Marlo is a pretty little town, surrounded by bush and farmland, on the mouth of the Snowy River. Apart from fishing, bushwalking, observing the stunning bird life and walking along the pristine beaches, not much happens in this sleepy settlement in East Gippsland. Except on New Year's Eve, when Marlo "goes off". The population doubles as 400 people head to the historic pub overlooking the Snowy to see in the New Year. This summer young Victorian musician Josh Cashman will play on a flatbed truck on the pub's front lawn, while inside a DJ will be playing new and classic dance tunes. This summer sees other events in Marlo: a cheese-making workshop at the pub on December 16 and 17, the Marlo Triathlon on January 10 and the annual woodchop of January 17.
2. Proud pub
Watching the sun set over the Snowy River is one of life's little joys. The dappled golden light playing on the still water of Lake Corringle is broken by the occasional tinnie piloted by a local fisher. You take this in downing an ice-cold beer on the deck of the Marlo Pub, one of Australia's best little hotels. It started life as a bark hut in 1875. After various additions and renovations it is now a sprawling and characterful weatherboard building. The bar, decorated with fishing paraphernalia, looks out over the Tasman Sea, while in the dining room you'll find really decent pub grub at respectable prices and served in generous portions designed to feed hungry farmers. Out back are comfortable rooms that lead to a wide balcony with a sea view. 19 Argyle Parade, 5154 8201, www.marlohotel.com.au
3. Pedal heaven
Throw your bike in the luggage car of a Bairnsdale-bound train and then ride the 110 kilometres to Marlo via the East Gippsland Rail Trail. This ride follows the old Orbost train line through farmland and forest, under trestle bridges and over rivers along a well-made gravel track. If you're fit you can do it in a day. If you like a little luxury you can break up the ride by staying in B&Bs or hotels in beautiful country towns such as Bruthen. You can have your luggage forwarded to your next place of accommodation by Snowy River Cycling (snowyrivercycling.com.au). The company can also do pick-ups and drop-offs at Bairnsdale station. A side journey takes you along the banks of the Mississippi Creek, through patches of temperate rainforest into Lakes Entrance. Take plenty of water on this trail as water points are few and far between. Visit railtrails.org.au
4. Cape Conran Coastal Park
Cape Conran is one Victoria's most beautiful parks, with 11,700 hectares of bush, banksia forest, beach and dark freshwater lakes formed by creeks dammed by vast sand dunes. Along the pristine beaches are rocky outcrops covered with orange lichen and surrounded by tussocks of grass. The cape has a campsite in the banksia forest, with wooden cabins offering a level of comfort in this wilderness-like location just 20 minutes from Marlo. Visit parkweb.vic.gov.au
5. Luxury cabin retreat
Not far from Cape Conran are the West Cape Cabins. Furnished with local timbers, these rustic and cosy cabins look out onto forest one side and farmland the other. Here cattle and kangaroos graze along with a couple of ostriches. Sit in the spa and watch the king parrots come in for a feed. Quiet, comfortable and dog friendly. Visit westcapecabins.com
6. Paddle steamer cruise
A century ago East Gippsland's roads were just muddy bridle tracks. The main form of transport was provided by a fleet of paddle steamers, with the coast and rivers alive with the shrill sound of steam whistles and the rhythmic churning of water. Wool, corn, sheep and cattle were shipped down Snowy River. Building materials, clothes and early tourists came the other way. The PS Curlip, a sleek and graceful steamer, is a replica of an original paddle steamer and was built as a community project. Volunteers lead 90-minute cruises around the Snowy River Estuary.