This year my family and I decided that we needed a holiday. Admittedly we did want to go somewhere warm after a very cold Melbourne winter but didn’t have the funds to do so. Instead, we decided to explore our own backyard in Melbourne and Victoria and do a few weekend trips instead. So for our first holiday we decided to head to Ballarat for a 3 day weekend.
Big 4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park
Friday we checked into the Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park, and I have to say that the staff there were so lovely and friendly. We stayed in the Spa Cabin, and it was immaculate. The best part for us is that we were located right next to the jumping pillow so we could sit on the deck with a cuppa and watch the kids at the same time. It had everything you could want to entertain the kids from the jumping pillow to the outdoor playground, indoor play land, movie room, games room and giant chess board. There is an inviting pool and an indoor swim spa that we all relaxed in.
M.A.D.E- Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka
M.A.D.E is Australia’s newest museum and is dedicated to democracy. It was a fantastic place to start our Ballarat trip as it really gave us the history of the area and the role the Eureka Stockade had in shaping our nation. The kids had a great time as they learnt history in an interactive way using the latest technology to engage them. We then headed to M.A.D.E’s cafe, Saltbush Kitchen. They make delicious food with native Australian flavours and apparently the best meat pie my husband has ever eaten. We picked our food and headed out the beautiful Eureka Gardens to eat lunch. They have complimentary bean bags or picnic rugs as well as a playground.
Ballarat Wildlife Park
Next we ventured to the Ballarat Wildlife Park. We loved it there! This is truly a hands-on wildlife experience. The kids couldn’t get enough of hand feeding the kangaroos. You can also cuddle koalas, handle a snake, but the highlight for me was Crunch, the 5.5-metre saltwater crocodile. He was incredible and terrifying at the same time, and we were about a metre away from him in his glass wall enclosure.
Dinner on Friday night was at The Forge Pizzeria. We highly recommend it as the service was amazing, and the food was fantastic. The kids were entertained taking advantage of the communal colouring in table
Saturday morning breakfast was at L’espresso. They make seriously good food! In fact, both my husband and I thought it was the best breakfast we’ve ever eaten.
On Saturday, we headed to Sovereign Hill. We had such a great experience at Sovereign Hill as we were taken back in time to what Ballarat was like after the discovery of gold in 1851. There is so much to see at Sovereign Hill that tickets are valid for 2 days. You can experience the costumed characters roaming the streets, candle making, coach rides, underground gold mine tours and musket firing. We all had the best time, and our favourite activities were the sweet making, gold pour and getting our very own old-fashioned family photo. The highlight for us was being able to pan for gold, and yes we found some! Even though it was a very tiny piece the kids were thrilled with their find.
We finished the day with dinner at the Golden City Hotel, which is the most beautiful old building with a really modern interior. It overlooks the tree-lined Main street of Ballarat which looks so pretty at night. The trees light up green, and it looks magical.
We started Sunday at a recently opened cafe called Yellow Espresso. It’s a really trendy cafe that serves all day breakfast and great coffee plus it was kid friendly too.
Our last stop for the weekend was a medieval adventure at Kryal Castle. It recreates a land of myths with knights, dragons, wizards, kings, queens, princesses and fairies. The highlight here for us was the jousting in the castle arena.
Once you have kids your perspective on holidays really changes. It goes from being all about relaxing to all about making sure the kids have fun. There is nothing more special than seeing your kids enjoy themselves, and I feel like Ballarat gave us the best of both worlds. We got to have some relaxing time, and we also got to have a great family experience together. With school holidays approaching, Ballarat is a great place to go exploring with the kids!
By Rochelle Ramage