Friday, October 13, 2006

Trip To Victoria - Day Four

We ventured out looking for breakfast although Yu-Jin and I had already eaten Nutri Grain. Miky couldn't make up her mind, and it didn't help that he tummy was very unsettled, but she finally decided on soup and a focaccia. I walked to the chemist to buy some buscopan for our stomach aches.

Hook turn sign in Melbourne so that you avoid colliding with the trams.

The Old Rialto Hotel.

The slightly-more-impressive new Rialto.

The Rialto Observation Deck is right up near the top.

They don't have newspaper stands like this in Perth.

You can see the different eras that each of the buildings came from with the contrasting styles on display.

The old Spencer St Station has been given a bit of a revamp and become the Southern Cross Station.

Back to the hotel to check out and then grabbed a taxi to the Budget car rental shop. Our driver took a wrong turn at the intersection where Budget was situated but no harm was done. I had booked a Nissan Pulsar but was supplied with a Subaru Impreza. The Budget guy showed me quickly on the map how to get onto the Westgate Freeway and to the Western Freeway so that we could make our way to Ballarat.

Fairly uneventful journey to Ballarat. So uneventful that everyone else had a sleep. On the freeway there was a radar speed check which I thought was quite useful. It only registered speeds of up to 117 km/h so no point in trying out the car to see what it could be wound out to.

Once in Ballarat we stopped off at the Eureka Centre which is the site of one of the most significant events in Australian history - the Eureka Stockade. Sorry to say that, although the centre was well displayed, it was a bit boring. We spent 20-30 mins walking through. Obviously nothing remained of the original site of battle so they were a bit limited in what they were able to display. I purchased a combined ticket to the Eureka Centre and Sovereign Hill, which was our reason for visiting Ballarat.

Our impressive hire car.

An old coach inside the Eureka Centre.

Old guns on display.

That all-famous Southern Cross flag.

List of the main people, out of some 12000 miners, who were involved with the Eureka Stockade.

Some 60000 miners signed a petition against the Government's mining licence requirement.

Eureka Circle - to commemorate the 150th anniversary in 2004 of the Eureka Stockade.

Eureka Circle - detail of one of the 24 or so panels.

Sovereign Hill was excellent. People at the living museum, a bit like a folk village in Korea, were in character throughout the town. Clothes, schooling and everything available for purchase were done in the old style of the 1850s.

I had a lamb stew pie for lunch which was rather different. There was a five gun salute marking tribute to those who fell at the Eureka Stockade and lots of wares on display and for sale. The township even has a bowling alley. The kids attended school and you could poke your head into the classroom to have a stickybeak. You could even wander through people's houses as they went about their lives. School kids from the outside world could book a class in the school and be taught in the days of yesteryear. What a great idea for kids of today to appreciate how learning was carried out all those years ago.

Miky felt sick after lunch so went to have a sleep in the car. Yu-Jin and I panned for gold whilst waiting for the Mine Tour to start. We didn't find any. The underground mine tour was excellent - Xavier was our guide. He informed us that the wages in 1854 were 2 pounds, 7 schillings and 6 pence. That equates to about A$80k p.a. these days. But life expectancy was mid 30s. We took a train ride to the surface.

Sovereign Hill diggings. Ah, that must have been comfortable.

Lovely old buildings.

They even have a theatre but we weren't there at the right time to catch a performance.

Some finely crafty items for sale.

The milliner would have a bit of work to do on this hat.

I couldn't see this exquisite work lasting five minutes in our household.

Horse and carriage rides for sale.

Here's the pivot head of a working mine.

The school is in session.

Not a great deal of privacy if you wished to take a bog.

How's this for a fancy kitchen? Doesn't quite cut it with the modern day features.

Old style bowling alley. It works!

Panning for gold. Didn't find any.

Here's an old gold mine that they discovered when digging the tourist mine.

Our guide, Xavier, discussing how the mining methods changed twenty years after mining first began. They had been using crowbars and hammers along with explosives and then came the pneumatic drills that made everyone deaf and dropped the life expectancy down to 30-40 years.

More of the diggings at Sovereign Hill.

Ye olde style butcher shop.

Rang my Aunty Joan to tell her that we were coming but may take a while to find her place. How prophetic that statement was. We arrived in Geelong at about 6:05 which was 65 minutes after the tourist info closed. I parked the car and went into a shopping centre and asked a young couple if they knew where the city of Belmont was. The young girl used to live there and gave me very good directions past Skilled Stadium. We stopped outside a pharmacy to get our bearings again and I asked the shop assistant for futher directions to my aunty's house. She wasn't quite correct but we found the street. Only wasted some 45 minutes to find the place that was 5-10 minutes away.

Aunty Joan made a wonderful stew for tea and some pastries. We played a couple of games of Chinese Checkers. Aunty Joan and I stayed up until 11:30 talking about families and poring over photo albums.

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