Ringed by deeply forested mountains about 90 minutes by winding road north-east of Melbourne, the historic tourist getaway of Marysville was a flashpoint in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. No other community was so profoundly scarred: 35 dead, all but 33 houses razed, the landscape charred. From the ashes, a new Marysville rises, sharing its stories and rebuilding its homes while remaining forever mindful, perhaps, of nature's cruel beauty.
A modernist take on the mountain shack - a kit home perched on a hill on the edge of town - Stompin' Wombats is all glass, corrugated iron and functionality. The views across a frost hollow to Sugarloaf Peak in the north and the tree-burnt ridges of Lake Mountain in the east are stunning. A wood stove warms the heart nicely, as do playful interior-designer touches (from glam wallpaper to Banksy prints) and a well-appointed galley kitchen with cheerful blue splashback and stainless-steel bench. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms ... there are endless weekender possibilities.
Marysville will never be the same again, but some of its natural attractions endure: the floodlit Steavenson Falls, most of the main street's old oaks, its majestic stands of towering mountain ash, the winter wonderland of Lake Mountain. Tourist businesses (cafes, B&Bs, ski-rental outlets, local-produce shops) are gradually rehabilitating themselves as sightseers return, drawn by fond memories, stories of courage and now the town's emerging sensibilities of survival and renewal.
Aunty Maria's sugary-sweet banoffe pie with a cup of locally roasted organic coffee at the artfully charming Fraga's Café in Marysville. Alternatively, take a country drive north to nearby Buxton Ridge Winery for its local-produce platter and a few drops of sauvignon blanc, shiraz, or a celebratory quaff of its sparkling Molly Jean Blanc de Noir from the cellar door.
Need to know
Cost: $700 for a two-night weekend.
Distance: 1.5 hours' drive (100km) north-east of Melbourne.
7 Fiske Street, Marysville, Vic
PHONE: 0408 519 514