This is a non crafty post today, a celebratory post actually to share how my family makes memories!
In the middle of last week my husband and I made the impulse decision to visit Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. We made this decision based purely on the recommendation from my friend Belinda from Mum Central. You can check out her blog here about her trip that inspired us! We wanted the kids to experience Sovereign Hill and also the Christmas in July Winter Wonderland.
On Saturday morning we headed off in our Ford Fairmont, which is on gas, for our adventure. We left home after voting at 10.38am and hit the road. The drive was long but made interesting by stopping at different towns along the way. One of the highlights for us was all the gorgeous street art at Kaniva. The kids just loved the pigs and the sheep. We also loved the border of South Australia and Victoria too. It was great fun standing either side of the line and lots of laughs were had about this!
We arrived at our first destination in Horsham at about 5.30pm. Yes we stopped many times. We stayed at a quiet little place called Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort. The lady could not have been more helpful making sure we were checked in and upgraded our cabin so we had extra beds and no one was sharing. The cost of the cabin we stayed in was $94 and we booked on booking.com (the link to the property is here!)
We left the next morning at 8am ready for our 2 hour drive to Ballarat. We arrived at 9.45am and found there was ample parking even on the busiest of day. Tip – buy your tickets beforehand from RAA as a family ticket is $140 or with RAA its $122 giving you extra money to spend on a mine tour or even a coach tour. I had to email the lady at the counter the receipt so she had a copy and she handed us our map and showtimes for the day.
As we entered the main street filled with beautiful red bows and christmas decorations amongst the colonial town we were immediately taken back to a time we were so eager to learn more about. We started by going to register for a Mine Tour (not the free one) for $20 for the family. Our time was for about an hour and a half later as they fill very quickly. We did the tour about the Chinese Miners and how badly they were treated. It was a real eye opener for us all. The mine tour was at 11.30am and we headed underground in a tram and then followed our tour guide through the man made mines and to watch a light show about the chinese. The facts were amazing however I am not going to spoil it for you. But definately a must for the day.
Then we headed for bowling in the bowling lane, the kids were blown away by how heavy the balls were and the wooden lanes.
My youngest son made a candle for his Auntie and was very excited to do it all himself and pick the colours for her.
We were thrilled to see the snow fall during the morning (fake snow), it happens a couple of times a day, and seeing the kids faces light up was purely magical! (Clearly by these photos its not just the kids faces that were lit up!)
As we organised our trip so close to departure we hadn’t budgeted on an expensive day so we looked around and headed to the Cafe for lunch which is located in the front right of the place. The boys and my husband had 5 buckets of chips between them, and a hot drink each and I had the toasted sandwich and a large hot chocolate and the total was about $50 which we thought was quite reasonable for a “theme park”.
After our lunch we spent time watching a Christmas shadow puppet play and also a Pantomine which were great fun. The kids really got involved with the cheering and booing of some of the characters. Pure innocent fun! We even got to see Saint Nicholas too and get a lolly from him.
At 4pm we went to see the Acrobats in the Marquee which were great. A mime show filled with giggles and laughter. Sorry about the average photo!
As the end of the day got nearer we headed for the main street and waited for the Winter Wonderland night show to start. When it started it was magical, no other words can explain it. To see their little faces light up and to cheer as they ran around was pure joy. It made the long drive worth every second. Have a look at the displays which changed constantly over a 15 minute period. This repeated itself for about an hour and a half and was just incredible. It was icy cold so we were thankful we rugged up, in fact I am not sure I have ever worn so many layers!
As we left Sovereign Hill we stopped to warm our hands by the fire. What a perfect day!
We left for our accomodation at Eureka Stockade Holiday Park who had called earlier in the day as their office shuts at 6pm each night to let us know how we could enter. The accomodation there was the exact same we had at Horsham however $100 more expensive. It was $195 for the night and the only thing that was different was location and the in the kids room instead of being 2 sets of bunks it was a double bed and a single bed over the top which the kids thought that was very cool. We booked this accomodation through a site called www.agoda.com.au which I found very easy to manage (the link for our accomodation is here too!)
We set off to come home at 8am and drove the whole way home stopping at many places. One of our favourites was Nhill because they had a great playground and a swamp you could walk to on a boardwalk. It was a great place to stretch our legs and let the kids have a good run around.
When we got to Tailem Bend we had the beautiful view of the Murray River and reminisced of many times we spent at a shack next door to the service station before we had children.
It was an incredible trip and we arrived home about 4.30pm ready for showers and an early night. So many incredible memories were made and the options of how to share them are so exciting. My son and I both made little brief clips of our trip using an app called Power Director. We filmed about 5 seconds every half hour of our trip and its great to look back at. We did a LOT of driving! Thankful for DVD players, Ipads, Tablets, Mobile Phones AND HEADPHONES!
I hope that together with Mum Central we have been able to inspire you to take time out of your busy life to celebrate Christmas in July with Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and make some memories today!