Ballarat, VIC – We had a slow start this morning, since it was the first time in awhile that we didn’t need an alarm! We walked from our hotel into the central business district where we found a place for brekky (breakfast). From there we went to the Optus store to have some phone questions answered. We made a stop at the Visitor Information Center and got some maps. We walked around the downtown area where there were many historic buildings that were built during the gold rush years, when this was a very wealthy area.
Our reason for coming to Ballarat was to tour Sovereign Hill, a re-creation of a town during the hay day of the gold rush era. I love these kinds of places (Genesee Country Museum, Williamsburg, etc.) and this one did not disappoint. We got tickets to take a tour of one of the old gold mines and that was interesting, especially as we rode a tram down to the mine and experienced the sensation of total darkness. This mine tour only went to a depth of 65 feet, but it was deep enough to give us a feel of the life of a miner. The miners in this particular mine were well paid but had short life expectancies because of the dangerous nature of the work. We toured the schools, churches, shops and even a bowling alley type place. It was a beautiful day to be outside which added to our enjoyment.
After 4 hours at Sovereign Hill we walked back to our hotel where we changed into our biking clothes and got the bikes out of the boot of the car. We followed a bike route that toured 2 of Ballarat’s largest parks. The first park, Victoria Park, was a large space with footy and soccer fields, BBQ pits, and lots of green space. The second park was Lake Wendouree, or as Jim calls it, Lake Windouree, as it was terribly windy as we biked around the lake! This lake’s claim to fame as it was the site for the rowing and canoeing events in the 1956 Olympics that Melbourne hosted. It was way too windy for any boats to be out today, but we may drive by the lake in the morning as we leave town. We got 12 miles in on this ride, but it felt like more as we battled the wind.
For dinner tonight, we went to Forge Pizza, a fairly new place in town. We tried to eat there last night, but without a booking (reservation) we were turned away. So we booked a table for tonight and had a delicious meal. I ordered a pizza named the Shearer and it came with pulled lamb, spinach, locally made goat cheese, red onion, and pine nuts! It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.
Tomorrow we head north to Daylesford for their Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. After that we will explore some more of the small towns before heading back to Melbourne. We have to get back in time to do some packing as we are moving to a new apartment on Monday morning.
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