Three family adventures you can have in Ballarat {Share Australia}

June 25, 2015 · 25 comments

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I don’t know about you but I consider myself very lucky to have been born in Australia.  There are probably more than a million reasons why I’m grateful for the quirk of fate that saw me delivered to parents from down under.  But right now the one I’m really thinking about is how much it has to offer to those who enjoy the thrill of exploring new and fun places and spaces with their family.  

Today, I’m taking part in a challenge, as part of Kidspots Voices of 2015,  to share with you my own personal pocket of Australia in the hope that I can temp you to come and do some exploring here in Ballarat. Ballarat is a beautiful town.  It has clear crisp air, fabulous distinctive seasons and a part in  history that any living museum would be proud of.    But why would you want to bring your family here to visit?  Oh my friend the list of reasons is endless but today my job is to bring you three good ones and then let you discover the rest. 


Spend some time at Lake Wendouree


The lake (as the locals call it) is a pretty big deal in Ballarat and an easy place to lose a good few hours of exploration time.  If you’re feeling energetic you could walk the six kms of pathway that winds around the lake itself.  (If you’re here on a Wednesday morning you might even see me slowly jogging my way around – so wave and please offer me a drink if I look ready to pass out.)   There are playgrounds dotted regularly around the lake but make sure you stop at both the Adventure Playground (a massive wooden construction so huge you’ll be lucky not to lose your kids) and the Indigenous Playground (a beautiful area filled with lovely art and rhythmical playthings inspired by our indigenous history) as they are particularly beautiful and a real experience for the kids. 

Lake Wendouree In Winter Ballarat For Families.

Once you’ve walked the lake and had a play you can head over the road to the Botanical Gardens.  My own personal favorite things to do here are play spot the goldfish in the fishponds and walk down Prime Minister’s Avenue taking selfies with our  Ex-Prime Minsters.  But you might prefer to do some of the more traditional activities like checking out the begonias, enjoying the plant life or visiting Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Cottage. Each to their own as they say.  

PM Selfies Ballarat Botanical Gardens Ballart for Families

The lake also has an impressive wetlands areas open for exploration, the stirring Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial and a fabulous vintage tram you can ride on with the kids.    Once little tummies start to rumble there are more perfect picnic spots than you can poke a proverbial stick at, along with electric  barbecues, cafes and a regular ice-cream van. Lake Wendouree is a seriously great place to have a family adventure and you could easily spend the best part of a day exploring all it has to offer.   (PS: I had just finished my run around the lake before taking these selfies – so I think both me, Bob, Jules and Kev are looking mighty fine!)


Visit Nimmons Bridge on the Railtrail


The next Ballarat based adventure I’ve chosen for you is a quick trip out to visit Nimmons Bridge.   The bridge is part of the Ballarat Skipton Rail Trail and was built back in the 1850s as part of the local railway net work.   The Rail-Trail winds its way from the Ballarat Station, meandering out through a host of local community towns, for 63 kilometers until it reaches Skipton.      As you can see from the photos, Nimmons Bridge is a stunning old railway bridge that has been restored to provide a breathtaking glimpse into life in yesteryear. 


The bridge is about a twenty minute drive from Ballarat by road or, if the family is up to it, a 30 kilometer bike ride from the Ballarat Station.   (It’s on my  own personal bucket list to do the bike ride – but I must confess it hasn’t happened yet!)  The bridge’s under-structure is made from the most impressively huge logs, the sight of which leaves you wondering where they found trees big enough to make them from.   The surrounding views of gorgeous local farmland are lovely and all of the locals will tell you to make sure you leave some time to simply stand on the bridge and gaze out – allowing the view to restore your soul.    My trick is to let the kids go running ahead, following the pathway, while I wait on the bridge to watch them and enjoy my moments tranquility on my own.   


There are two picnic tables ready and waiting at each end the bridge and a walking track which lets you see the bridge from underneath – which is honestly the best and most impressive way to see it.  You’ll also find an information alcove in the parking area which provides all of the history and backstory that you need give your Nimmons Bridge adventure some historical perspective. 


Do the Tourist Park thing

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the epic-ness of Sovereign Hill, undoubtedly Ballarat’s most famous attraction and something every family should do at least once.  It is seriously worth it.  We’re not talking about whiz-bang rides and fast food styled amusement parks here.   Sovereign Hill is a living museum of life back in the 1850s where you’ll find yourself panning for gold (which you get to keep by the way – watch the kids eyes light up when you tell them that), conversing with beautifully dressed ladies and cheeky old fashioned policemen and taking  rides in  horse drawn vehicles.  You can also create your own candle, watch old fashioned lollies being made and see the blacksmith at work – among other things.    It’s a fabulous day (or two) out and has much much more to offer than I can express in this one paragraph.   It’s literally a Ballarat must do – maybe even an Australian must do. 

Ballarat For Families attractions collage

But Sovereign Hill is not the only tourist park Ballarat has to offer.  You should also consider spending some time at Kryal Castle.  It is an enchanting and magical place with its story woven around a mythic King, his lovely Queen and an un-seen She-Dragon who lives curled up in the Mountain behind the castle.    Recently re-developed, the castle has been well thought out to appeal to everyone in the family and will keep you entertained and on the go for hours.   There are puppet plays and the Tooth Fairies very own lolly shop, jousting knights and magical wizards blending mythical potions, playgrounds, magical mazes and even (if you are game and over 12) the gruesome Torture & Dungeon Museum.    Yet another great adventure waiting to be had in Ballarat. 

Have I impressed you with our tourist parks yet?  Best wait to answer that one because there are still more.   Ballarat is also home to a beautifully set out Wildlife Park  which specialises in crocodiles  (The Ballarat Wildlife Park) and a very cute and clever Tangled Maze – both of which you could easily lose two or three more hours to.     Did I tell you we are spoiled for choice?

Ballarat For Families collage Caz Filmer Writes

Are you tempted to come and explore Ballarat with your family?   I have no doubt there are enough exciting escapades waiting for you here that you’ll need more than a day.  If exploring really is your thing you might be interested in the Ballarat Bucket List which has another seventy-two family friendly things you can do in and around Ballarat.  So, if you’re up for it I think we could probably keep you here for a week.   Maybe I’ll see you out exploring my home town some day soon. 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Senin sikicem demedimmi December 10, 2016 at 6:57 pm

I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else
experiencing issues with your blog. It seems like some of the text on your posts are running off
the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well?

This might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
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2 Michelle V June 30, 2015 at 3:54 pm

This post couldn’t have come at a better time as we are heading to Ballarat this weekend!
Can you suggest some nice restaurants please? Thanks in advance


3 Caz Filmer June 30, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Hey Michelle, lovely to hear from you 🙂 Are you coming with kids? There are two good family bistro type places. Zagames on Main Rd and the Robinhood on Peel Street. They are bistro quality but both have playgrounds – which can be a lifesaver. The Turret Cafe on Sturt St is also lovely – one of my favs for spoiling the kids at. They are child friendly – but not child focused – if you know what I mean. But that said there are heaps of cafes along strurt street. The Golden City (Sturt St) is good too – oh and Pipers on the Lake too. Anyhoo – that gives you a few. Let me know how you go and if you come up with any of your own favorites!
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4 cityhippyfarmgirl June 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm

I want to go to Ballarat now!
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5 Caz Filmer June 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Yay. My job here is done them 🙂 hee hee
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6 Kaz June 28, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Ballarat looks like a wonderful place for a family holiday. Kryal Castle would definitely be enjoyed by this family too.
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7 Caz Filmer June 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Hi Kaz, always exciting to speak to another Kaz/Caz 🙂 Thanks for visiting. I was checking out your blog the other day – it’s beautiful. Well done.
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8 Leanne June 26, 2015 at 6:35 pm

That looks like a gorgeous part of the world! Seriously. I remember going there once for a conference. I was impressed. It’s a place I may never have stumbled across on my own. Your photos are gorgeous.


9 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Leanne 🙂 Funny how many people I’ve talked to who have been here for a conference. We must have a good conference centres here in the Rat. 🙂
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10 Shelly Mumdoha June 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Righto – thanks for this. You have just helped me decide where to visit for the school holidays. Now I just need to choose between the castle and the hill. Which one do you think. I have 3 kids (10,8,6). Any recommendation for me?


11 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I’m sure they would love both. You seriously cannot go wrong Shelly with either of them. Perhaps ask them if they like the idea of gold panning or dragon slaying 🙂


12 Bec June 26, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Yes, I definitely want to take my girls to Ballarat one day. I always have wanted to go to Sovereign Hill and now I will add Kryal Castle as a place to visit.
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13 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

You will love them both 🙂 Loved your night time routine post – really painted to picture of life with young children. Lovely work.
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14 Maxabella June 26, 2015 at 1:36 pm

I’m so keen to bring the kids to Ballarat, Caz. This looks great! x
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15 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Let me know if you make it down and, if you have time, we’ll do coffee 🙂
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16 Jody at Six Little Hearts June 26, 2015 at 8:21 am

How much fun is Sovereign Hill?!!! We went to Christmas in July last Winter and it was wonderful. Hope to attend again this year. Kryal is great too!
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17 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 8:24 am

I know Jody – we love it. One of the best things about living in Ballarat is that the kids get to go every year and be part of the Red Hill School. They get to dress up and live the magic for a few days. Some of my own best memories … and now my kids are doing it too.
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18 Emily June 26, 2015 at 7:17 am

We almost headed your way on this week’s family holiday! But opted for warmer climes in Mildura instead. We’ll definitely hit Ballarat too, but maybe in summer. Thanks for sharing these.
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19 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 7:51 am

Pleasure Emily 🙂 You sound scared of the cold, which many people are. But I’ve come to see it as part of Ballarat’s charm. The local City are doing a wonderful job of celebrating it this year. We have ice-skating and winter warms – all such fun. Thanks for visiting – maybe we will see you in the summer! (PS: Really enjoyed your grammar lesson – great post.)
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20 a June 26, 2015 at 6:47 am

Oh my goodness, the kids would go gaga for Kryll Castle. Look like we’ll have to add Ballarat to our always expanding list.


21 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 7:52 am

Mine loved it – so I’m pretty confident yours would too. Thanks so much for visiting 🙂
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22 Haidee June 26, 2015 at 6:27 am

I agree with Lydia, that castle looks awesome!
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23 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 12:24 pm

It is Haidee – if you are ever in these parts I am sure you little tribe of men would love it.
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24 Lydia C. Lee June 26, 2015 at 6:22 am

I want to go to that castle – how fun!
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25 Caz Filmer June 26, 2015 at 12:25 pm

It really is a fun day out. I’m sure you’d love it if you are ever in these parts. 🙂
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