A week in small town Victoria – and then we ended up in gaol

It has been a week of creature comforts, visiting family, a lawyer mum flashback, and looking forward to some roughing it ahead.

We have been to Lancefield (near Hanging Rock – cue haunting pan pipes), Ballarat, Daylesford, the Grampians, Warrnambool – and ended up in gaol in South Australia (as a birthday treat for the 9 year old).

(And also pretty excited to be featured this week on the Travelling Australia with Kids website – a fantastic site for anyone planning a a big road trip with kids. It helped us prepare for this trip – and also helping us even more now that we’re on the road and realise all the things we forgot to prepare for!)

Some more super dodgy masking tape efforts

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And a few snippets from our week…

School camp in Ballarat – and it was fr-fr-FREEZING

Six degrees at 4pm on Sunday in Ballarat. NOT happy. We wanted to chase the summer around the country. What the hell is going on here? I had planned on fabulous tannage and shorts all year long. I had not planned for scarves and thermals – in February!!

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Huh?

Ok enough whinging. Other than shivering for a few days, Ballarat was wonderful and, ah educational. Win for the new home schooling parents. “Excursions” to the Eureka Stockade museum (MADE – Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka – quite the contrived acronym), and Sovereign Hill. MADE was interesting for the hubby and me  – though a little above the kids heads  – lots of small writing on walls, not enough canons to play with. And then there was a pretty awkward moment when they asked for our postcode at the entry and my daughters insisted we didn’t have a postcode because we didn’t have a home, and trailers don’t have postcodes. The stern lady at the front desk then started asking why they weren’t in school on a Monday and I had some explaining to do.

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And then a day at Sovereign Hill. Which was a bit like going on school camp but was fun (really) for all the family. Blacksmiths, gold panning, tours down 100m deep, 150 year old decrepit mines (which we were assured were perfectly safe), gold smelting and pouring, old engines and mechanical bits and pieces for the hubby, giant lollipops – and did I mention the blacksmith??

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Something for the kids…
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…and something for the ladies

A lawyer mum moment

Lancefield is one of those quintessential small Victorian towns. Not too far from Melbourne, but unlike its counterparts in Sydney,  it is still its own little town and has not yet been subsumed into the greater suburban sprawl of the big city. Close to Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges, wineries, farmers markets, health food shops galore and great coffee – and we are lucky enough to have family who run the Lancefield Guesthouse. It is an old converted hospital and kinda creepy in a Shining like way – but also really cosy and lovely (with a super cool trap door in the common room that leads to an underground wine cellar). It is always a treat to go there. When we pulled up out the front, my youngest daughter (now 4) said “Oh Mummy – I remember this place, this is where you had to do all your work on your computer in the other room away from us all”. Yep – that’s the one. The last time we were here, I was in the middle of the biggest deal I had ever done. We had been planning a trip with the kids’ great-grandmother in Victoria at the very same time I had a crucial deadline on the deal. I had to choose between the deal (which wasn’t really a choice because the juggernaut wasn’t going to stop for school holidays) or pretty special memories with the kids. In the end I just tried to do both. The whole trip (including our time at Lancefield) was spent on calls and emails. Clearly my (then 3 year old) daughter remembers it the same way.

I don’t feel guilty about working hard while I had young kids (despite much questioning from a few angles about my career/life decisions). I’m sure I will work again and won’t be with the kids all day long. At the time, my hubby and I were trying to do the best we could for the family in terms of providing for them, and caring for them. Just like most working mums, and working dads do. I’m also not saying (at all, in the slightest) that stopping work and being with the kids all the time has restored the natural order  – and that a mother’s place is in the home (or trailer, as it may be). But – working so hard all the time did make for a pretty sucky holiday. So this time round, I got to see all the markets, parks, picnics at Hanging Rock, and dinners with the fam – without once thinking of work, marking up a share purchase agreement, (but btw – the Lancefield Guesthouse does have excellent wifi) checking emails, or taking calls.  Over achieving at holidays, even if sucking pretty massively, and in complete limbo, on the career front at the moment.

FOMO at every turn, but enjoying the meandering

We have spent a few days in Warrnambool at the bottom of Victoria before heading back into the wilderness and wine country. Some time with cousins, aunts, great-grandmother, and a few creature comforts.

We stayed at a council run campground right on the beach for a few days. There were hot showers, a laundry, flat ground, grass – in other words: Pure. Luxury. (for only $48 a night).

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Warrnambool beach – on the walk back from the surf club

On the way here we drove through Daylesford and Vaughan Springs (spent the night at a free campsite with the best slide ever), and then a drove through Grampians and spent the night off a 4WD track in the deserted Boreang campground, with no internet or water (notice the order of priorities), and with lots of emus and kangaroos.

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Dinner time at Vaughan Springs (spot the cask)

 

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Wine o’clock in the Grampians  – spot the new cask

We have been zigzagging our way through country Victoria which is a maze of criss-crossing roads and small towns. Every time we take one turn, we fear we are missing out on something else amazing down the other road. But we are enjoying jumping between roughing it and a bit of “luxury” now and then, between mountains and wineries and spectacular coast and outback and rivers – so much in one state (though a bit of sunshine would also be nice). Once we get further west, our choices are going to be hundreds of kilometres apart and I expect there will be far more roughing it than creature comforts – so we are enjoying our meandering for now.

And then we ended up in gaol…

It is our daughter’s 9th birthday. And so for a treat, the kids get to sleep in beds, for the first time in a month, in a gaol. Happy Birthday!!

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No, really – it’s pretty amazing. We have crossed the border to South Australia, gone back in time half an hour and are shacking up in The Old Mount Gambier Gaol. Owners James and Mel are excellent hosts – and the only family in Australia to live in gaol. They tell us they have cleansed the gaol of evil spirits, and it really does have a lovely vibe. We are in a 6 person bunk bed dorm room, next to the “Wardens” common room – which has a…TV. !!!!  Wow – and we thought the beach campground was luxury. The kids are running around like puppy dogs with excitement.

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We will explore some caves and lakes tomorrow – and then we hit beaches and WINE COUNTRY. Oh yeh – hello South Australia!

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I am (was?) a corporate lawyer who has packed it all in and hit the road. With my hubby, three young kids, Bonnie (our 4WD) and "The Shack" (our camper trailer), we are taking a year (or so) to forget about work and city life, enjoy our amazing country – beaches, mountains, outback, desert, food, wine and adventure – and figure out what we want to do next.

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