We realised that a weekend just wasn't enough!
Here's a list of things we have done on our trips to Ballarat
I have fond memories of my childhood visits to Sovereign Hill, so it was nice to experience it with my own children, although being only 1.5 and 2.5 at the time, they were a little young to embrace it. A few of the things that we noticed upon entering are that you can hire prams and that it was all very pram friendly. Kids under 5 are free. Some of the activities that we enjoyed were the lolly making, the gold pouring, the bowling (although the boys were just a little young for most of the activities, the lovely gentleman that was at the bowling alley did his very best to help our little guys out. AND of course the panning for gold!! Mr 1.5 was clearly too young for the art of panning for gold, so he enjoyed a sandwich while Mr 2.5 gave it his best shot. Needless to say daddy still had to go to work come Monday, we didn’t hit the big time. All in all, we found that we rushed it a little bit, we’ll head back when they’re a older, maybe for their beautiful Christmas in July, we were in and out in 2 hours, considering what you pay for entry, I would have liked to have spent a little more time there, but we had a long list to get through on our trip to Ballarat. What we really liked though, is that you can actually return the next day for free, so if we hadn’t jam packed the weekend we could have gone back and that’s great for working around naps. That being said, it looks like they have a GREAT school holiday program with loads on for the kids. They also have a promotion running at the moment where you can buy a Golden Ticket which will give you entry to Kryal Castle and Sovereign Hill. Here is the link
I was really looking forward to Kryal Castle because my boys LOVE Mike the Knight, castles and dragons. When we first walked in we were greeted by a dragon- and Mr2.5 was a little bit scared I think. Until he worked out that it wasn’t real. When you are planning your day it is worth checking out their running schedule because there will be some shows that you won’t want to miss. Kryal Castle is set up with things for the kids such as a large playground, face painting for $1 and theatre shows that they can watch. There are people that are all dressed up in medieval attire, a bakery, bar and café on site, there is also accommodation there if you’re wanting to stay the night. And you get to take loads of corny photos like we did to laugh at in the years to come. Kryal Castle is really interactive, it has a bit of a King Arthur theme, kids are invited to come up and say hi to the horses after the shows and invited to laugh along at the pantomime at the Jester’s Theatre. It was really fun, we were there for hours and still didn’t see everything. The way that the shows are structured means that there is something on every half hour or so, so it can be quite busy, but you are given an itinerary so you can plan your day.
Ballarat Wildlife Park
It turns out that we couldn’t fit everything that we wanted to do into one weekend, so one short week later we were back again, this time to visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park. Mr 2.5 loves a Snap-odile so it was on our must see list. We arrived at 10.45 just in time for a guided tour that started at 11. I strongly encourage that if you go and the opportunity to take a guided tour is available- that you take it. In walking into the Wildlife Park we were immediately greeted by kangaroos. The very first one decided that he liked the paper bag more than the feed so $3 of kangaroo feed was scattered on the floor. Despite being feed-less the other kangaroos were all so gorgeous and friendly and were happy to have us pat them and say hello. The tour started with them bringing out a Koala so we could gently pat it and say hi. We moved through to the Tassie devils, more kangaroo and wallaby feeding and patting, eagles, and then wombats. Oh the wombats, don’t you just wish we could keep them as pets! We finally made it to their new crocodile enclosure to meet Crunch, a 5m 540kg croc. Although he was a little shy, we could see how big he was. Then we went through to all of the snakes and other reptiles. The highlight here for us was definitely the massive yellow python, but the Cobras were pretty awesome too. You also have to look out for the pig-nose turtles- I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before and they were so odd looking. Unfortunately we missed the crocodile show which was at 3pm because we again wanted to head to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Before you head on down to enjoy Midlands Reserve and the water playground, you might just want to check the weather. It was 10 degrees cooler on the day we went which made for 2 pretty disapointed little boys on the long drive home, whoops!
Accommodation – We didn’t decide that we were going to Ballarat until the Wednesday before the weekend. It was as simple as ‘I need to get out of here’ and booking some accommodation that sprung up in our newsfeed. And that was Sovereign Park Motor Inn. We were lured in by photos of the pool and renovated suites. Although our room wasn’t renovated it was all clean and tidy and very spacious. We wanted a separate room for the boys so we could close the door when it was bedtime and our night could continue with some movie watching and a few cheeky drinks with my sister and her hubby. After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and spas. There is a shallow kids pool and an hour flew by very quickly. There is also a gym, an indoor tennis court and a few other things to keep the kids busy. And then there is the Red Lion where we booked for dinner, and is part of the accommodation.
When we asked for recommendations for dinner there was only really Zagames that they recommended as an alternative for family friendly dining. With dining options so limited, you MUST book, call them if you are planning to go, as soon as you know you’ll be there. We sat in the café area, which had a play area for the kids. I chased them around while we waited for our food. They had a good kids menu, high chairs and my steak sandwich was perfect. That was as big a day as the kids could handle, so off to the room we went.
Church Retro Cafe
We checked in and then headed out for a quick drink at Church Retro Café and when they say retro this is clearly something that is taken very seriously, we were right back in the 60s. We sat down and enjoyed some pink lemonade and coffees. The kids enjoyed patting the gorgeous little dog that was wandering around and a few toys. It was a beautiful day to sit out in the sun.
The Pancake Kitchen
On Day 2 more of our family came up to join us- My Grandmother, Mum, Dad and youngest sister joined the 6 of us that were already there. And we headed to The Pancake Kitchen. Without a reservation. They graciously squeezed us in and got us some high chairs. It is set over multiple levels and therefore regardless of where you are seated there will be stairs, so I would recommend that you avoid bringing the pram if you can. Food was delicious in Pankcake Parlour Style and our breakfast ticked all the boxes in that we were served quickly, the food arrived quickly, and we all enjoyed it.
After our busy day at Kryal Castle we just wanted to relax before the drive home so we picked up some pies and rolls from The Beechworth Bakery (Next door to the Pancake Kitchen) and we headed to the beautiful Ballarat Botanic Gardens. We were all exhausted so we stayed at the brilliant park that they had there by the lake. I wish we had more time to stay there, I have very fond memories of my childhood where my big beautiful Italian family would pack into a bus and drive to Ballarat, singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, and enjoying a BBQ. All 40 of us! I hope we can recreate the memory again soon with our own kids. Although there would have to be 70 of us now! Anyway, we had an ice cream and I will fill in the blanks of what else you can do at the park soon.