It was quite cool in Shepparton this morning (a minimum of 2 degrees) so we had the heater going until we warmed up and had breakfast. We were on the road around nine and headed toward Bendigo on the midland highway; smoko was taken at the small centre of Goornong (http://goornongcommunity.blogspot.com.au/) then we pressed on through Huntly and Epsom to Bendigo. Once we reached Bendigo we bypassed the city centre, getting a little lost along the way, and headed onward toward Castlemaine, then on through Daylesford where there were lots of people attending the markets being staged in the town.
The Bitch in the Box (the Navman) was guiding us and took us on a magical mystery tour leading us unexpectedly through the village of Dean (where we stopped for lunch near the now closed hotel) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean,_Victoria) rather than through the larger centre of Creswick. Eventually we reached Ballarat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballarat) and made our way to the Eureka Stockade Holiday Park (http://www.eurekaholidaypark.com.au/) where we had decided to stay. The park is adjacent to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (http://made.org/) which we will visit during our stay.
Monday morning saw another fine and clear day so we took the opportunity to visit Sovereign Hill (http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/) a major tourist attraction located in Ballarat. “Sovereign Hill is a not-for-profit, community-based cultural tourism organisation administered by The Sovereign Hill Museums Association.” The website indicates “Sovereign Hill is a living museum with working exhibits brought to life by costumed characters and over 40 horses. Set on 25 acres of an original mining site, Sovereign Hill is a goldfields town with shops, hotels, a theatre, schools, factories, a gold diggings and underground mines to explore.”
There were many buildings and displays to visit during our few hours on the site and we enjoyed the day visiting this historic site and taking many photos as mementos of our visit. We had lunch on site at Sovereign Hill then walked across the road to view the Gold Museum (http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/gold-museum-ballarat/) which is also part of the Sovereign Hill complex.
After visiting Sovereign Hill, we took a drive out to Buninyong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buninyong) and drove through the town returning to Ballarat via the Midland Highway, seeing a little more of the City along the way.
The rain on the roof of the caravan first woke us in the early hours of Tuesday morning and when we finally arose it was to a wet and miserable morning in Ballarat. Any thoughts of visiting the Botanic Gardens and Lake Wendouree were quickly dispelled by the weather and we chose instead to check out the retail area of the CBD first visiting a rather wet Bridge Mall (http://www.bridgemall.com.au/).
We then looked at the Central Square Shopping Centre (http://www.centralsquareshopping.com.au/)
and took a walk along Sturt Street in the City as the rain had abated. It was still cold (11degrees maximum) and there was a sneaky breeze adding to the discomfort level. There are many statues and memorials along Sturt Street which make for an interesting walk; couple this with the many stately buildings in the city and the charm of the place is quickly revealed.
“An outstanding surgeon, and a soldier in two world wars. Albert Coates became a prisoner of war and was an inspirational hero to those he cared for on the notorious Burma–Thailand Railway.” (https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/fiftyaustralians/9.asp).
To the west of the CBD the Arch of Victory spans Remembrance Drive (https://bih.federation.edu.au/index.php/Ballarat_Arch_of_Victory); this structure marks the commencement of the Avenue of Honour (http://www.swvic.org/ballarat_avenue_of_honour.htm) a road extending some 14 miles (23 kilometres) lined with some 3700 trees in remembrance of soldiers from Ballarat who gave service in the First World War. Both the Arch and the Avenue have undergone renovation in recent times and an article detailing the reopening of the Arch is attached (http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/11/06/3357413.htm).
After viewing the Arch it was back to town for a delicious lunch at the local Hogs Breath Café; then a little more shopping before we visited MADE – the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (http://made.org/). The museum not only tells the story of the Eureka Stockade and one of its central figures – Peter Lalor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lalor) but also of the other historic struggles that have shaped democracy as we know it in Australia. The remains of the original Flag of the Southern Cross under which the miners rallied at Eureka, is also currently on display at MADE.
One of the very interesting external monuments at MADE is the memorial to the Pikeman’s Dog (https://eurekaballarat.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/the-pikemans-dog-memorial-relaunched-at-eureka-park/). The dog was honored for the bravery and loyalty it exhibited during the battle of the Eureka Stockade.
Another memorial near the museum is the memorial erected in 1923 to those who fought and fell during the battle of the Eureka Stockade.
Wednesday morning was bleak and dreary but with brief flashes of sunlight from time to time. We set out to take a look at the Botanic Gardens and Lake Wendouree (http://www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/lae/lakes/lake-wendouree.aspx). Our arrival at the lake saw us on the spot where the Olympic Rings are erected (the lake was used as a venue for Canoeing and Rowing for the 1956 Olympics). There is a rowing course at this site which is in regular use, and a walking track and running course designed by Olympian Steve Moneghetti seems popular with the locals.
Not far along from this point is the Ballarat Botanic Gardens (http://www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/lae/gardens/ballarat-botanical-gardens.aspx) so we took a stroll along the paths under the very large trees and through the various gardens on the site.
There are also many statues in the gardens some dating back to the early 1800s and some as recent as the bust of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in Prime Ministers Row which contains a bust of every prime minister since federation with the exclusion of the current PM Tony Abbott.
A large glasshouse is located in the gardens and it was filled with lovely potted blooms; we wandered through the structure looking at these lovely flowers.
Next we visited the Adam Lindsay Gordon Craft Cottage (http://www.artsatlas.com.au/adam-lindsay-gordon-cottage/) located in the gardens. The cottage is filled with craft items for sale, the proceeds of which assists in the upkeep of the cottage.
A drive around the perimeter of Lake Wendouree was next on the agenda; in fairer weather we would have walked the track as it is only six kilometres in length. The inclement weather must be of little concern to local residents as there were many walking along the whole time we were there.
There is another monument in Ballarat close to the Botanic Gardens and that is the Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial (http://www.powmemorialballarat.com.au/). “The Memorial symbolises that all Australian prisoners embarked to serve away from their homeland and acknowledges the hardship, deprivation, brutality, starvation and disease endured by Prisoners of War during their capture and the scars many continued to endure upon their repatriation to Australia.”
We inspected the memorial and the list of 36,000+ names recognised on the plain black stone of the memorial some adorned with Anzac poppies, and marveled at the appropriateness of the design and its simple dignified presence.
As light rain again started to fall we left the gardens precinct to return to the caravan park to prepare for our departure north to Bridgewater (north-west of Bendigo) tomorrow morning.