The Marysville 'Beauty for Ashes' Quilt will be presented to members of the Marysville and Triangle area on Sunday 7 February, the first anniversary of the Black Saturday fires.

We invite everyone who has been a part of the project to join us at Gallipoli Oval in Marysville on this day.

From 9.30 to 10.45 there will be a non-denominational service held. From then onwards will be Community Time in which members of the community will share their thoughts, poems etc.

We will be presenting the quilt between 10.45 - 11 a.m.

This will be a low-key, reflective event, with few media or politicians. Graeme Brown, the president of the Marysville and Triangle Development group, said that the committee were all in favour of the quilt being presented at this time.

If you are free that day, it will be wonderful to see you there.
My number is 0432 105 162 if you need further details.


The hearts of people all over Australia have been touched by the news of the devastating 2009 bushfires.

Many towns in beautiful mountains and valleys across Victoria suffered direct impact.

In my hometown of Warburton, we're lucky to be completely unscathed, despite a few risky days when many evacuated.

But on Saturday 7th, I was in Marysville with my three children and parents. We escaped with our lives, minutes before the firestorm hit Marysville and the town imploded.

Warburton is a beautiful little town nestled in the hills, with colourful characters and a strong community spirit and identity ... just like St Andrews, Marysville, Strathewen, Kinglake, Flowerdale, Steels Creek, Churchill ... names many of us may never have heard of before but now are seared on our national identity. I look at our glorious tree-clad hills and think, that could so easily have been us ...

That day in Marysville, I personally experienced the neighbourliness, courage, and common sense of Marysville people. The spirit I saw alive and well that day, through acts of kindness and bravery, can never be destroyed. Marysville will rise.

I drove through many fire affected areas close to my own home town in the weeks after the fires. Pining to return to Marysville, it was heart-rending to see the loss and destruction along roads, forests and fields so familiar to me.

Yet it was also a healing experience to see that, in the dead silence, in the whisper of the wind through leafless trees reduced to blackened spines, the beauty and power of the land is still there. These hills will once again embrace bush-loving dwellers, who will reflect the resilience of the land around them. These towns will rise again. The bush will renew. There will be beauty from ashes.

I was inspired to create a quilt for the community of Marysville that reflects these things, expresses our care and concern, and our hope for their future. Marysville was beautiful, and will be again.

Thank you for visiting this site. We invite you to contribute a quilt block towards the Marysville 'Beauty from Ashes' Quilt Project. In this site, you'll find inspiration, step-by-step instructions (especially for those who, like me, have never quilted before!), helpful 'how-to' links, and examples from clever quilters to inspire us others.

Where is the Quilt now?

The Marysville 'Beauty for Ashes' Commemmorative Quilt is now hanging in the new Re-Building Advisory Centre on the main street (Murchison St) - just down from the Bakery.

If you are in Marysville and would like to see it, turn right as you enter the building and ask where it is (it might not be immediately obvious as it is in an alcove behind double doors - a spot where there was wall space!)

The Marysville & Triangle community are planning to obtain a quote for a glass case to display the quilt in to preserve it.

Warm thanks again to all who so generously contributed to this project, and special thanks to Graeme Brown, President of MATDG, who has been taking care of the quilt's progress since the anniversary of Black Saturday.


Marysville is open for business

“Come and stay over” is the call from Marysville for 2010.

“We have people passing through, stopping for coffee, a bite and maybe a few photos,” says Pam Phillips of the Marysville Tavern at Crossways. “But we need people to stay overnight - or better still, a few nights – that more than anything will help the local economy survive.”

After the news reportage of the last year, you could be forgiven for thinking Marysville has been wiped off the map. Other than the Bakery and the ski-hire, is anything left?

On our recent visit to Marysville, we were impressed to see the progress in only twelve short months. The bush is coming back to life – and so is the town.

The weekend of the 6-7th of February 2010 was a significant time for my family to return to this pretty mountain town. Like hundreds of others, we came to attend the anniversary service of the fires. Exactly one year ago, in heat 10-15 degrees warmer than today’s hot summer’s day, we were on another weekend getaway and enjoying a cool-off in the Cumberland pool. We saw the smoke, heard the roar, and glimpsed the flames coming over the hill as we fled in a convoy of cars along the smoke-shrouded road to Alexandra.

Down on Trevor Harrow Oval in Gallipoli Park, known to all as Gallipoli Oval, other residents experienced a night far more terrifying than our own scary close call – one approximating the dreadful holocaust the park is named for. For many, the night they spent watching the town explode and implode around them, washing out each other’s eyes, wondering which neighbours got out safely, and who – God forbid – might be trapped out there somewhere, was so traumatic, it is with great difficulty that they’ll return to the place for the service tomorrow. Some just won’t.

As well as the marking of one year since Black Saturday, there’s a wedding on this weekend at the Crossways Inn. As we anticipated, all accommodation in town is booked out. The Tower Motel, the 10 units at Crossways, the 23 cabins at the caravan park, even the luxury B&Bs at Maryton and Delderfield have no vacancies this weekend. Well, we expected that, and came self-sufficient with tents and sleeping bags. Christine Adams at the Marysville Caravan Park finds us a little nook where we can pitch our tent on soft green grass, hedged by trees and right beside the Steavenson River. I just have to move aside a pile of desiccated orange foliage, a lingering souvenir the fires left behind, to make room to park the car. We have power to charge our phones, toilets and showers, and access to a shared kitchen with sink, stove, microwave and fridge. There’s even internet – but we’re taking a break from ‘’putersville’ this weekend. After dark, we’ll unzip the tent and gaze at the fathomless stars in a night sky unmarred by city lights while the river croons a lullaby. Such luxury for only $35.

It’s just a minute’s walk over to Marysville Central, formerly the Car Museum, that survived the inferno. It’s now home to the Foodworks Supermarket, where we buy cool drinks and some fruit and cereal for breakfast. ‘My Chef, Mike’ is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights – that’s when Mike, who bakes all his wares himself on-site, produces mouth-watering gourmet pizzas. Looking at the menu, I can see there’ll be no disappointment if you rock up hungry mid-week. He has souvlaki, schnitzel burgers, and a gorgeous butternut Schnapps cake that is calling out to me amid an array of other decadent treats.

Marysville Central is also home to the Patisserie with a delectable array of chutneys, chocolate and Yarra Valley fudge. How to decide between Moroccan Tomato and Strawberry Cointreau jam? There’s also ‘Lit & Beyond’, a fragrant alcove of candles, incense and fashion. Next door is ‘Penni Lanes Country Wares’, looking like a gracious country sitting room you don’t want to leave.

The friendly staff at the Information Centre tell me that the Bendigo Bank opens on February 13, and a 24 hr self-service card fuel pump is coming soon. In the meantime, it’s a 15 minute run to Buxton or the Black Spur Caravan Park in Narbethong to fill up.

I’m quite content to linger in the air-conditioned comfort and admire the photos by Donovan Wilson adorning the walls. He surely has the eye of a true artist and his frames range from $70 to $800.

But the kids want to drag me out into the unforgiving, undiluted UV sunshine for something far more pressing – the lolly shop.

Only the front fence and a little sign advertising Bruno’s sculpture garden survived the blaze that obliterated most of the businesses along Murchison Street. But Julia Harris has set up shop in a small shipping container. My kids take ages choosing how to spend their pocket money - just as they always did on pre-Black Saturday trips to Marysville - while Julia and I swap tales of how things went for us on The Day. I don’t mind how long the kids take - Julia has air-con! Outside, pots and barrows of flowers line the entrance invitingly. The charm this little shoppe always had remains despite the squatness of a steel shed. Uncle Fred & Aunty Val's Lolly Shop is not the only business operating out of temporary quarters – the Post Office & Gift Shop is also housed in a shipping container for now.

Like most children, my kids have an in-built radar for fun and while tanking up at the Bakery, they spy the town’s newly-opened swimming pool. What better place to be on a hot afternoon - and they were savvy enough to pack togs and towels. It’s open every afternoon; a family ticket costs $9.30. There’s a toddler pool under new shade cloths as well as the large lap pool.

While they tumble on and off the floating mats, I sit on one of the picnic benches under the shady veranda. Next door, it looks as if the new education/community centre on the site of the Marysville Primary School is nearly at frame stage. Looking up from my book, I see the hills around Marysville are dotted with other homes under construction – so far, 42 houses are somewhere between foundation stage and completion. The hills is less lonely now. Only 33 homes survived the fires. 400 did not.

Just beyond, down at the Oval, a rousing game of cricket is underway. How do they do it in this heat? Round at the golf club, 1km out of town on the Buxton road, are other hardy folk enjoying a game of bowls or golf. This was where my family and I temporarily sheltered before it was announced that the road to Alex was open: “If you’re going to go – go NOW!” Just over the road, 130 people are still living in the temporary village.

By the time the children are all swum out, the day has cooled enough for us to walk further up Falls Rd to Bruno’s Sculpture Garden. We have a soft spot for Bruno, as we were ‘refugees’ together, when a Rotary couple in Alexandra opened their home to 8 random strangers fleeing Marysville. The generous response of Alexandrians, when their own place was not safe from threat, left a lasting impression on the hearts of many survivors. Bruno seems as indestructible as his terracotta sculptures. He’s done an amazing job of restoring his gardens. It takes more than a firestorm to quell creativity like this. Almost 60% of Bruno’s tableaux survived, but many were damaged by the maelstrom of falling trees. Now, green fronds and bright flowers are perking up again between Bruno’s whimsical characters. It is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 5pm. Admission is $5. But Bruno looks hot and tired. Just in front of the entrance to his forest wonderland, he is re-building his home by himself, brick by brick. He’s wearing a brace around his torso from a recent back injury. He has a few thousand more concrete blocks to haul before he’ll have a shady place to rest.

We expected Sunday to be a sombre day and it is. Around 800 gather under the shade of the marquee as flowers and wreaths are laid on a wooden altar. The words of a profound old hymn are sung with gentle stoicism: “Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me” while the names of the 39 souls who perished are read. We present the Marysville ‘Beauty for Ashes’ Quilt to Graeme Brown, president of the Marysville and Triangle Development Group, who accepts it on behalf of the community. Its 131 patches represent the sentiments of people around Australia who care, but it seems such a small and useless gesture in the face of such devastating loss. Overhead, two cockatoos fly against a cloudless cobalt sky, respectfully and unusually silent. Not quite white doves, but close enough for Australia.

After the service, the shady verandas of the Crossways Inn provide refuge from the searing sun. Many locals, relieved to have the hurdle of that difficult first anniversary over with, are gathering here for a cool drink and tasty nibbles provided by Pam Phillips and Greg Cherry, the proprietors. How did Greg successfully defend this old wooden building with just a couple of buckets? At one point, thinking it was over, Greg staggered blindly through smoke in the direction of the river, just meters away. He knew he’d reached it when he tumbled down the bank. He sheltered under the concrete bridge until he thought it was safe to resume his dogged one-man bucket brigade. Employee Daryl Hull captured a vision of Greg moving through orange-tinged smoke like a wraith bearing buckets in his unforgettable footage later shown on several TV networks.

Since wedding guests and anniversary attendees are departing, Pam and Greg can offer us accommodation for tonight. So we make ourselves comfortable in River Cottage, which fronts the stream flowing under the bridge that saved Greg’s life that night. The kids are thrilled with decision, hopeful of another trip to the lolly shop and another dip in the pool. In the peaceful evening, I wonder why this place seems so bright and cheery now compared to other times I’ve come up during the past year. “It’s the birds,” says Pam. “Remember in the early days? The silence was heavy. Now the birds are back.”

Sue Abbs of the Tower Motel agrees with Pam that people coming to stay overnight will be a much-needed boon to the town’s recovery. She and husband Luke were just coming up to completing their first year in Marysville when the firestorm struck. As they celebrated, they congratulated themselves on making the best move ever. “What could possibly go wrong?” they thought.

“We were in Melbourne on The Day and we got the news that everything was gone – we wondered if we’d jinxed ourselves. But then we saw the motel on the news – still standing.”
The Tower Motel is now fully operating, with 14 units providing accommodation for up to 40 people with tariffs ranging from $70 - $115. Sue and Luke used some of their insurance money to re-furbish the units with new TVs with 8 satellite channels, new heating and cooling, and microwave ovens.

“Marysville is still a magical place to be, “says Sue. “We still have the canvas - and new colours appear every week. Coming through this experience has only confirmed what we thought when we first arrived – you couldn’t find a better community of people.”

Sue recommends the free shuttle bus which runs from Gallipoli Oval up Falls Rd to Steavenson Falls, departing on the hour between 10am -3pm on weekends and during holiday periods. “The road is closed to public traffic and this bus trip is definitely something to plan during your stay,” she says.

Steavenson Falls always was a spectacular beauty spot, with towering old-growth mountain ash, grey gums and messmate that defied the 1939 Black Friday fires. Flowing ferns fringed the 122-meter cascades, vying with lyre-birds to be the prettiest belles at the ball. Now, the echidna-spined ridges and the surviving bush that looks like gothic black Christmas trees swathed in green tinsel make an eerie sight. Yet the beauty that is and the beauty that will be is undeniable. This ride, more than anything, brings home the fury of the fires versus the relentless forces of the resilient bush.

Our visit is over and it’s time to pack the car and head home. On the way out of town, we stop at the Marysville Trout and Salmon ponds. Their sign says, “Catch a fish and help us re-build” - so we do. Owners Glenn and Vicki are open for business and facing the future with the resolve typical of folk throughout the fire regions.

“We hope more people will come and see Marysville as it is now, and be part of the re-building,” Glenn tells us. “Seeing the way the bush springs back after a fire – it’s part of being Australian, something you’ll never forget.”

He speaks of the bush but the same is true of the people. The impressions and images linger. The stories locals share have echoes. By the time another year has passed, the contrast between unimaginable devastation and glorious new growth will never be so stark again.
Once again, Marysville sends us on our way with hearts full of memories to treasure.
We’ll be back soon.



The Marysville Quilt in the newspaper

This article appeared in the Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader on January 5, 2010:


From the ashes of Black Saturday has come an amazing outpouring of warmth and generosity.
When Julie Bell and Julie Warren began developing a project to allow local quilters to show their support to bushfire victims, they had no idea it would involve people from all parts of the globe.
A Warburton resident, Ms Bell was trapped in Marysville on February 7 and witnessed first hand the devastation.
Her family and several other by-standers helped a woman escape from a car that was crushed by a falling tree. When the woman was safely in an ambulance Ms Bell said the group turned to see thick black smoke just 100m from where they stood.
They escaped the town and drove to nearby Alexandra, where they spent the night in a school hall filled with smoke from the fires.
"The one thing I experienced in the middle of all of that was an incredible sense of community," Ms Bell said. "People were looking after each other, and I was moved by their spirit."
Grateful to have escaped alive, Ms Bell decided she wanted to do something more to help Marysville on the road to recovery.
She began with a couple of planting days and then decided on a quilt project that would show the town's people they were not alone.
"I was a non-quilter so it was just an idea, but I was talking about it in a quilting shop in Healesville when Julie Warren, who was visiting from Mulgrave, overheard me and offered to help," she said.
The Beauty for Ashes project has collected more than 130 squares from quilters as far afield as England and Canada.
The giant quilt will be donated to Marysville on the one-year anniversary of the fires."