Mum of 3, Bec, has joined our blog team to share her epic family adventures around Ballarat each month! Finding hidden gems, exploring local events and offering her humorous take on family life in Ballarat! Enjoy X
BALLARAT. It lies 115 km west of Melbourne; it has a population of 101,588 and sits at an elevation of 435 metres. All very informative but if you wanted this sort of information you would have whizzed over to Wiki for a gander. What we really want to know is what is good and enjoyable in this town of ours.
My husband and I were living in NSW and after he accepted a job offer we moved south to check out somewhere new for a couple of years. That was ten years ago. We both fell in love with Ballarat and have made a life here. Our three beautiful cherubs were born here; Patrick is 4, Emily is nearly 2 and Julia is 4 months.
Ballarat has changed a great deal in the last ten years, in many ways. Granted my perspective on things has changed since having kids, but I think we have come a long way when it comes to food, family and fun.
Just like most families, we love nothing better than hanging out on the Trampoline, digging in the garden, playing hide and seek or making a mess in the lounge room (and every other room); however we do also love to explore. Ballarat provides such wonderful opportunities for families and this blog aims to find some Ballarat Gold and share it. My bambino’s are quite young so when we will be exploring areas, activities and events it will be mostly relevant to age but hopefully it can help lots of families to discover and explore themselves. I hope you enjoy Ballarat as much as we do.
Volume 1: Summer Holiday Fun
Ahh Summer. What a wonderful time of year in Ballarat. December is delightfully fuelled by the Christmas crazies and then it is a hop skip and a jump into jolly old January. The air is clear, half the population racks off to the beach, to the river or some sort of water body and there is vibe that can only be explained by the possibilities offered at the beginning of a new year. Ballarat often gets a bad rap in the weather department, understandably so, but it is this conditioning that makes Ballarat peeps so wonderfully appreciative of a good day. After a long winter, anything above 17 degrees results in t-shirts and shorts a plenty, the Lake is pumping and every outdoor dining space is filled. It’s great. We [myself and the kids] are no different. There is nothing more rewarding than tired legs after a good day out or park visit.
We started our year with a little explore around the lake with a friend and her two little people. We only did the small section between St Pat’s Point and the Yacht Club. It was a lovely day and the kids had a ball paddling in the water, looking at bugs, experiencing the slippery slime (a wet bottom confirmed its slipperiness), watching the weed tractors, talking to all the water birds and using the reeds as super hero ropes. It was great to take the time to enjoy and explore and watch all the people jogging, walking and cycling past along the path. There was no shortage of chatter from any of us!
There are so many free events on around the city throughout the year and January is particularly primed. We stopped in to watch the 2018 FedUni RoadNats on Wednesday 3rd January. It is really lovely wandering up and down Sturt Street with all the elite bike riders whizzing past. I took the kids in with a picnic and we found a spot in the median to nibble and watch. I think for the kids it is much about the people watching as it is about the bikes. Mr Four asked lots of questions and was very interested. Little Miss Nearly Two is a bit of a flight risk so keeping her entertained is sometimes a challenge but she was pretty good. There were lots of other families about. Most of the pubs and cafés were open and pretty understanding when it came to using the toilets and facilities without needing to be a customer. It is really lovely to see them supporting the event in this way.
I was in town doing some lunch break shopping with my husband; making the most of the January sales and while on the hunt for a toilet for Mr Four I popped my head into Inexterior (corner Doveton Street and Mair Street) and discovered a wonderful open space complete with large children’s area. Many places provide a children’s area, but it is often clearly an afterthought and the real estate allocated is small. This is not. I was immediately compelled to book a coffee date and test it and let me tell you it passed with flying colours. The menu is very varied (tick); the staff really patient and friendly (tick) and the food and drink is delish (tick). While I was ordering I had one child wanting every piece of cake on offer (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), one determined to make his order known and then Miss Four Months spewed on the floor and register. It was all met with a smile and assistance by the staff and I wasn’t made to feel like I should run for the door. I did forget to order a coffee but they were even observant enough to ask if I wanted something. TICK!
January is pretty full of birthdays in our circle. It is a great time year for parties. Our own Mr Four had an actual birthday party this year which was very exciting. We always host a first birthday party for our kids with friends to say thank you for the support in the first year and celebrate the milestone, but this year we decided that we would have a party with his mates. After attending a party as a three year old at Inflatable World he requested that his party be there. I must say, having a party at a venue is positively brilliant. We turned up with a cake and some party bags and the team at Inflatable world did the rest. I did bring some allergy friendly food as they don’t cater for that but are very happy for it to be provided. We had an injury and they were quick to provide ice and help. They sorted food, drinks, plates, cake cutting and cleaning up. Most importantly the kids had a ball. I know there are many party venues in Ballarat that have varied offerings to suit individual’s needs. Ballarat also has ample outdoor spaces for parties which are generally easy and affordable, however as previously discussed; there is always the Ballarat weather factor.
Before we knew it the working week was short again and Australia Day was upon us. We were lucky enough to score a barbeque invite for lunch and after the success of watching the fireworks last year (no tears) we wanted to take the kids again this year. We headed in at about 8.45 pm and parked at Vic Park and walked over. We scouted a spot and settled in. The super summer storm did hit earlier in day and I did forget to bring a picnic rug, or anything to sit on for that matter so hot tip for next year. Didn’t matter in the end as Hubby and myself were wearing jeans so the kids just sat on our laps and surprisingly our bums were fine. The fireworks didn’t disappoint. They did decide to launch them from two spots which is a great idea but I wasn’t a fan of them going at the same time. We were all torn with where to look and didn’t want to miss any. Nevertheless the show was spectacular and the kids were left satisfied, elated and keen for Australia Day to come again.
Australia Day generally marks the end of the ‘holidays’ and the beginning of a new school year. Our Mr Four started Kindergarten and it has left me somewhat skittish about the lunch box. They certainly have changed a great deal since I last packed my own lunch box in high school. With the emergence of allergies and the focus on healthy eating it is completely reasonable and a positive change. Homemade is always great but my new mission is to find some Ballarat Gold in the form of lunch box fillers for when assistance is required. Stay tuned.
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