Yarra Valley, Victoria
After the devastating Black Saturday fires that killed 173 people, injured 414 and destroyed over 3,000 structures in 2009, the township of Marysville was massively impacted. Having been through the town numerous times before and after the fires, post fire it was sadly a shadow of its former self.
The towns people and residents needed temporary accommodation so that they could rebuild their lives and houses. Community spirit is strong in devastated areas. What is now Camp Marysville was established by the Department of Housing and when the resilient folk of Marysville moved back into their rebuilt homes the temporary village was no longer required. That is when the Outdoor Education Group (OEG) stepped in and hey, presto, saw the potential of an instant camp on the doorstep of Lake Mountain and Cathedral Ranges.
It consists of forty-one purpose built, 2 bedroom units with kitchenette and bathroom. The camp can sleep a massive 287. The main dining hall, that acted as the Marysville Town hall during the rebuild can seat 300. It’s clean, airy, spacious yet feels cosy with a little lounge area tucked into a corner. Little improvements that OEG have done to the dining hall, incorporate using exposed timbers to give it more of an architectural feel as opposed to a institutional feel. The industrial kitchen is massive and runs on a zero waste policy. Everything must get used or recycled.
OEG have a maintenance person who is very creative/artistic and his stamp is all over the camp. Little sculptures here and there, like fences made from treated pine posts that have been shaped, sharpened and coloured like pencils create interest and remove institutional like boundaries but still keep you on the right path.
OEG have also added numerous outdoor (and indoor) activities over the last couple of years to widen the available activities they can offer on site. I really like the policy of giving campers an electricity quota in each sleeping unit. If they use to much, they need to generate their own extra electricity, night or day. You do this by pedalling recycled pushbikes connected to a dynamo, fed into a battery earning you electricity credits.
The centre piece of the camp is by far the climbing tower. As far as climbing towers go at camps this one is a biggin’, stretching in at 21.5 metres high which I believe would make it the tallest wood climbing tower in Australia. It doubles as an abseil tower as well. With the crux climbing coming in at the final couple of metres as the angle begins to get steeper to eventually over-hang.
Other activities include, low-ropes, basketball court, indoor bouldering and fire circle (that you must hand split the wood for, using hydraulic hand operated splitters).