Friday, 3 April 2015

Ballarat Trip -> Day 3

Everyone woke up in the middle of the night, freezing cold. The girls came up onto the mattress with me, and I reorganised blankets so LiAM had more, and we eventually became warm enough to get back to sleep. I later discovered that one side of one of the tent windows was unzipped, so that would have made things much chillier inside than they needed to be!

We all slept in until nearly 9 then got up and had a relaxing morning - I read my book (re-reading the Twilight series, up to Eclipse today), the kids jumped on the jumping pillow and rode scooter and RipStik and played in the playground and the TV room. Once we'd had breakfast I got ready to go out and we headed into town, so that I could get some more tea bags, and to buy more blankets! Caitlin suggested op shopping for the blankets and I found a couple near Woolworths so we could get everything in one trip. At the first op shop we found a (vomit green) woollen blanket and a quilted fabric sleeping bag - perfect. The kids also picked up some toys and games and books and knitting needles and warmer clothes. We popped into Woolworths and got tea bags, socks for the girls, and a few other supplies, then over to the other op shop where we got a polar fleece sleeping bag, a few polar fleece blankets, scarves for everyone, more warm clothes and a couple of kitchen supplies that had been missing from our camping equipment.

It was a very cold morning, with an icy wind, so Caitlin in particular was very thankful we'd found warmer clothes, and she changed into them straight away. We drove straight to Sovereign Hill and headed back in, with a bit of spare time before the Red Coat parade. We went down to the Chinese part of the settlement and spent a bit of time at the Chinese temple. We lit incense and wrote wishes on wish cards and hung them up in front of the temple. We looked through the tents and Chinese shops and watched a bit of a video about the Chinese miners standing up to the government when they were taxed more than non-Chinese miners. I hadn't heard much about that side of the goldmine history and it was quite interesting.

Back up the hill we watched two (actor) guys chatting in the main street while we waiting - they were hilarious and drew a huge crowd, then the Red Coats marched through and one guy made a speech and then the soldiers fired their guns, which were very loud. After the kids had their photo taken with one of the Red Coat soldiers, we joined the crowds of school kids in the Confectionary Factory to watch Raspberry Drops being made. It was a very cool process to watch and his commentary was informative. The best bit of course was the free sample we all got afterwards - it was still warm and even more delicious than the regular ones.

We stopped and ate lunch and watched the crowds go by for a while, then went and bought tickets for a coach ride. There was a bit of a queue and we wanted to watch the musket firing, so we decided to do the coach ride after that. One of the troopers talked us through the history of the police force in the gold fields and about the weapons they used. He handcuffed Caitlin and LiAM together - but LiAM's hand was small enough to just slip straight out which was pretty funny. He filled the barrel of his musket with gun powder then showed it to everyone, letting us look down into the barrel - as Caitlin was looking he yelled 'Boo!' which scared her a lot and startled everyone else - she thought it was pretty funny afterwards. He fired the musket which was again pretty loud, then we headed back up to the horses. Millie showed the other kids the rock collection she'd discovered the day before. The horse and coach returned and we all climbed in and went for a ride around the settlement - it was pretty cool, especially after watching the coach go past so many times in the last 2 days. We patted the horses for a while afterwards, then the kids ran after the coach as it headed to it's storage place - we were the last ride of the day (running after the stage coach is something the kids do when we play Toy Story 3 on the Playstation, so it felt like we were reenacting that scene, it was fun).

Caitlin being arrested by the trooper
Patting the horses after our coach ride
We wandered up to the top end of town where we hadn't explored yet - and saw some very big turkeys in a yard. I wanted to check out the iron foundry where the guy was making brass and iron items. There were so many beautifully crafted objects there, and I ended up buying a big iron frypan and an iron omelet pan - exactly what I've been looking for, and great to talk to the guy who actually made them, about how to care for them, and to see how much he loves what he's doing. From there we walked back along the residential street of the settlement, and were able to explore some of the houses and talk about how different they are compared to ours - why the toilet is outside, why there was no stove and how they cooked, why the baby might be sleeping in a drawer etc. In one of the houses a lady was doing some quilting and we stayed and talked to her for a while, discussing how it worked, and admiring her sticky paper fly catcher above the table. She let the kids sort and take a handful of hexagons home so that they could start their own quilt - Caitlin loved talking to her and the other kids enjoyed it as well. From there we checked out the cart and wheel makers, then wandered through a couple of gardens, and back down the main street and home to our tent.

Pumping water into the horse trough
The kids played with the kids from the caravan next door and LiAM met another boy on a scooter, so they scooted around the park, and played giant chess, and jumped on the jumping pillow. I cooked dinner and it was quiet enough to eat it in the camp kitchen this time. After we'd eaten the kids played a bit more then I packed all our jackets and new scarves and we headed back to Sovereign Hill for the Sound and Light Show. The Show was spectacular. No actors, just voices, sound effects, and lights in various places to tell the story of the Eureka Stockade. Some was inside but most of it was outside - at the main gold diggings (where we'd panned for gold the day before), or after a long bus ride to the other side of the property, sitting in an auditorium with the front wall open to a reproduction of the Eureka Diggings. It was cold outside (it had been cold all day) but it was a fascinating show and I'm so glad we went. Millie spent the whole time cuddled in to me and didn't watch at all - but later talked to me about the story and she'd taken it all in and understood it all. I remember this was one of my favourite stories when I studied Australian History at school, and I enjoyed seeing it explained in so much clever detail, and glad the kids have heard the story now too.

We were back at the caravan park around 10.30pm and set up our beds with our new blankets - the girls on the mattress with me again, and LiAM snuggly bundled up on his camp mattresses. We read Eldest for a while then snuggled in to go to sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment