Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary

The World's Longest Lunch. Marysville, Victoria. Friday and Saturday the 11th. and 12th. of March 2005

Yesterday, on Friday the 11th. of March 2005, Denise and I took off from home in Melbourne to drive to the country town of Marysville, some 95 kilometers or about 65 miles out of the city.

To reach Marysville, you travel through the picturesque Yarra Valley, home to a number of fine vine yards, covering some wonderful rolling hills. You climb and cross the Black Spur, over 15 kilometers or 10 miles of winding, twisting roads, round hairpin bends, on one side a sheer drop down to the forest floor, hundreds of feet below. Huge straight trees abound, reaching skywards to the light, with tree ferns prolific, all a gorgeous green, it is a wonderful drive with breathtaking scenery that is world class.

We never tire of this magnificent area, on our way to and from Marysville.

Denise and I at the long lunch, with Liz opposite.

Denise and I at the long lunch, with Liz opposite

The Longest Lunch.
Our aim in making our way up here to Marysville was to attend The World's Longest Lunch, to be set up on the main drive into Maryland Country House, built in 1927, it was the first of five Guest Houses built by Eric Dowell. This property covers seven acres, with many beautiful trees, those flanking the main drive almost meet overhead.

Marylands Country House  The open fireplace at Maryland 
Marylands Country House The open fireplace at Maryland

When the house was first built, it had features unusual for those times, hot and cold running water in all rooms, indoor bathrooms and toilets. Electricity was generated on the property from water from the Steavenson River, and this commodity was not available to the town from the State Electricity Commission until 1955.

Pre Long Lunch scene at Maryland Country House

Pre Long Lunch scene at Maryland Country House

Our Lunch.
A continuous table in a straight line was set up on the main drive, to seat about 140 people who had travelled from the surrounding district, and others, as we had, drove up from Melbourne. Local produce spanning four courses was provided by chefs from: Taste of Eildon, Magnolia Gourmet Country House, Maryland Country House, and the Marysville Patisserie. Each course was matched with a premium wine from local vine yards with wonderful names like: Dalatite, Snobs Creek, Nillahcootie, Scrubby Creek, Growlers Gully, Kinlock, Giverny Estate, with beer by the local Jamieson Brewery.

The long lunch table and some of the participants

The long lunch table and some of the participants

The weather just perfect, nothing but blue sky and sunshine. At 12 noon, on manicured lawns we were served local cheeses, local olives, smoked chicken and trout, mushrooms, organic type breads, with a range of wines or orange juice for a few takers. A talented lady rendered appropriate stringed music.

At 1 PM we made our way to be seated under the trees at our huge table, on Denise's right, a lady who had met an Australian in her homeland of Canada, married him, and moved to Melbourne, they also maintained a cottage at Marysville, and visited it most weekends. On my left, a retired Royal Australian Air Force Officer, who had served for 40 years in that Service, opposite us, two retired lady teachers, Margaret and Liz, friends over many years, the former also had a weekend type house at Buxton, about 11 kilometers down the road from Marysville. All our lunch neighbours had travelled the world widely, and very lively conversation ensued.

All the waiting staff were drawn from the final year students from Alexandra High School, all wanting to study in the area of Hospitality. At 4 PM, we finally made our way from the table to go our various ways, we had but a few steps to make it to our suite here at the Maryland Country House, as we had booked in for the night. I am uncertain if our lunch gained its name from the time we sat at table, or from the length of the Lunch Table to cope with the 140 participants, I really feel it was probably the latter.

Township of Marysville.
The town's main street has a little stream coursing down one side of the road, and is lined with huge old oak trees, just starting to reveal their beautiful autumn ( fall ) colours. The Marysville Patisserie is run by Asfraf, a past colleague of Mario, my son in law, they worked together for years at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in Melbourne where Mario was the General Manager. After Ashraf resigned, he moved up to Buxton, and with his wife Christine, an accomplished pastrycook, they opened the Patisserie, and quickly prospered wonderfully. They have just won The Age Good Food Guide Award for 2005, a coveted award which will ensure a full house most of the time.

They featured 22 different, luscious cakes, and their Leek and Chicken Pie with a Puff Pastry top is out of this world. They are in the midst of building a combined house and Patisserie, on the site of the former mini Golf Course in town, and will move to these new premises about the end of May.

At the end of this street is a lovely park and a bubbling creek wends its way through it, a very serene sight that draws crowds of people, many with young children that fill the area with laughter.

Historical Display.
The local Historical Society of Marysville are mounting a display of past history of the district in the club rooms of the local Football and Cricket clubs at Gallipoli Park. It will run over the 12th. 13th. and 14th. of March.

Denise had been born at Alexandra, and as a young girl lived at Buxton Farm, a Guest House run by her parents at Buxton, and had attended the tiny State School there with a total of 12 students and a lone male teacher.

Meeting of the Waters at Buxton, Denise used to play here with her three brothers when a young girl

Meeting of the Waters at Buxton, Denise used to play here with her three brothers when a young girl

After her parents sold the business, it was destroyed by Bush Fires in the sixties. We visited this History display today Saturday, it included some material about Buxton Farm, with some lovely descriptions of this old establishment, eg: Full Board only 4 Pounds 4 Shillings a week ( about $8.40 in today's money ) electricity, sewerage, swimming, tennis, shooting, 9 hole golf course, open log fires, bus door to door from Melbourne, fresh cream and butter, and country cooking etc.

All very nostalgic at this distance in time.

The winding creek in the park at Marysville

The winding creek in the park at Marysville

We had a wonderful lunch and stay at Marysville, and drove home Saturday afternoon, stopping just out of Lilydale, to visit a winery that specialises in organic breads of many different types, we bought a crusty whole grain loaf, a spicy fruit loaf with herbs and a couple of Easter Buns, replete with their symbolic white cross.

All in all, a satisfying visit to beautiful Marysville and its surrounding district.


Marylands Country House

The open fireplace at Maryland



Denise and I at the long lunch, with Liz opposite.


The long lunch table and some of the participants.

# The winding creek in the park at Marysville.

# Pre Long Lunch scene at Maryland Country House.

Meeting of the Waters at Buxton, Denise used to play here with her three brothers when a young girl.

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