Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Fords and Gold Fever…………

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on May 4, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Me, Joel, Danny and Gaye

Cunningham Pier

We stayed our first night off the ferry at a free camp in Avalon, (camps 5 # 570) which sits behind a huge service station.  We’re not very hungry after feeling so sick all day and it’s an early night for us all!

Headed into Geelong and stayed at Geelong Riverview Tourist Park.  It is across the road from the Barwon River and it was surprisingly busy.  We had the car booked in not far from where we were staying to get the suspension changed to cope with the new weight.  As usual the rain is still following us so we took a few days to catch up on some schoolwork for the boys and lucky me got to get our tax papers in order:( Geelong is very geared up for cyclists and there are a few great cycling and running paths around the river which we have explored with the kids, when the rain stopped.  They have a few rowing clubs located just down the river from us and we watched some people training and racing-it’s all very competitive here!

Skate Park

2000 Ford Mustang Cobra

We caught up with Joel’s cousin Danny, Gaye and Penelope.  We went down to meet them for a sail but there were some mechanical problems so we headed back to their place for some yummy gourmet pizzas and good conversation.  We headed back the next night for a delicious meal with Danny and Gaye and a few friends.  Thanks guys for the wonderful hospitality it was great meeting you all.

As I am a huge ford fan we visited the Ford Museum, oops sorry the Ford Discovery Centre, in Geelong.  (I’d put a link to it but the site keeps coming up with a malware attack so not this time:)) I thought it was very cool and Joel and I enjoyed a trip down memory lane looking at how the cars have changed over the years.  They had some pretty cool cars in their too!  They also have a solar car model and interesting facts for the kids regarding hydrogen as a future energy source and the explanations about how the process works, through interactive models.  It’s quite

1934 Ford Coupe Hot Rods

1960 Ford Zephyr

amazing that when there is something the kids can play with to find answers that they will retain much more of the information!  Oh that and the car game “rush hour”.  It’s more like a puzzle about how to move the red car out of the traffic – think you can download it as a game for computer and phones now too.  It had all the boys transfixed for ages!

The Waterfront in Geelong is really beautiful.  The Cunningham Pieris an absolute beauty and there is a Baywalk Bollards along the foreshore, where a local artist has transformed the old timber shipping bollards into people, reflecting the history of the city of Geelong. They are quite striking and I particularly like the bollard-band playing in the park!  The day we were there the pier was partly closed as they were expecting a large cruise liner in the next day and were getting things prepared.  You can drive right out onto the pier and lost of people were there fishing as well.  There is also a fantastic skate park there at which we whiled away a few hours reading and

Boys with Rush Hour board game

Front of organ

Back of organ

basking in some of that yellow suff, um you know what it’s called, um oh yeah the sunshine! – while the boys did their ‘thing’.

We went to a food festival one morning and got sunburnt and tried a lot of different food.  If I could’ve taken a photo I would have as there were thousands of people trying to move up and down the closed streets – unbelievable! There were bands, food from all nations and we also saw a guy working a Verbeek 73 key concert organ.  Now that doesn’t sound very exciting but this thing was huge and portable and the sound was incredible.  He gets a lot of gigs apparently but it was like nothing we had ever seen before.  With such a rapid change to the weather we thought we’d make the most it and head out to the peninsula to the beaches at Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove.  No sooner had we got there, when the sun disappeared to be replaced by more black clouds.  Wade and i figured we might as well go in but chicken Joel and Dan stayed out of the water on the beach. Back to the park for a ride, a run and early dinner.  We had a great time in Geelong and we’ll be sure to come back again.

$1 and $2 notes

Wade and Gold Bar

We set off for Ballarat today with the weather still looking very ordinary. Well we thought Tassie was cold. OMG! We stayed at the Eureka Stockade Holiday Park and mentally got ourselves ready for a freezing cold few days.  We organised tickets for Sovereign Hillby day and the night show of “Blood on the Southern Cross”.  We dressed very warmly – read jackets, beanies and scarves – for the night show as part of the show is held on the Sovereign Hill grounds outside and then the “sound and light show” is held in a small theatrette.  Well we sat in a building in seating, then an entire wall opened up before us, showing a “movie set” under the stars. I wasn’t sure how the kids or us were going to go with this as there are no actors in this show.  It is just done with a voice over dialogue, sounds and a lighting show.  However we were all pleasantly surprised by how entertaining and gripping the story was, even with no real people.  There are sound effects, explosions, lots of lights and smoke and the whole story is wonderfully told.  I don’t think the boys

Underground Mine Tour

Dan and Gold Bar

would have got as much out of the Eureka Museum as they did from this show! A truly amazing show! Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos of the show.

Next day saw the weather overcast but not raining which was good as we were off to do Sovereign Hill by day. For those who nothing of it, Sovereign Hill is built on 30 acres and is like stepping back in time to the early 1800’s.  It is like a recreated, gold settlement where the staff dress as they did in the 1800’s, the shop fronts and buildings and the general layout of the place is all circa 1830’s.  It has been around for years as I remember going to it when I was a kid!  Unfortunately we did have to share this wonderful attraction with about 4 different school groups! Ah-ya-karumba! Most of the kids were reasonably well-behaved, there was just so many of them! Quite often the kids get some funny looks from other kids, like why-aren’t-you-in-school-type-thing but they explain what they are doing and the looks change:)

Wade patting Clydesdale

Where is it

We spent the day watching an old-fashioned gold pour, clamouring down an old mine in a rickety old mine trolley, eating yummy old-fashioned pies for lunch and some very productive gold panning.  They have an area where there is like a stream running (recycled water) and have set up the banks of the river with gold pans and sluice boxes for everyone and anyone to try their hand at gold panning.  There is a gentleman there who gives a demonstration every so often and it’s worth listening to as you really do find bits of gold.  The “river” is seeded with flaked gold every so often and we were very lucky to find quite a few bits of gold.  The kids wanted to get it weighed and paid out but we managed to talk them into keeping it for a memento as it wasn’t really worth that much even with the soaring price of gold at the moment:))  Our guide for the mine tour was a guy who was an ex-soldier (artillery I’m thinking) and ex driller as well.  He was great but VERY LOUD!!!!  He wasn’t even just yelling he voice just boomed! A bit scary when you

Family Photo

Working together

are so many metres underground!:)

While we were there i wanted to get an old fashioned photo done as a family. That was met with “No, don’t want”, “Do we have to”, to “No way, nah-uh-no way!”.  After much cajoling and then “You will do this for me” Daniel actually enjoyed the experience.   We sort of got to pick what sort of person we would like to dress up as; I didn’t really think the humble wifey-wife was for me, so I chose to be a bar wench, Joel a pastor (WTF), Daniel was a young soldier and Wade was so cute in his young boys outfit. The photos turned out quite well and it was a lot of fun to see each other dressed in the old clothes too!

When we were at the gold pour, the gentleman running the show was an ex-school teacher so we felt like we were part of the class.  He knew we had to leave a bit earlier as we had to do a tour of the underground mine so he selected Wade as one of the participants to be allowed to hold the gold bar!  We rushed out of the show but

That yellow stuff

went back later to thank him and have a chat.  He was most chuffed and then took Daniel out into the gold pour room so he could hold onto the bar as well and have some pictures taken. He was such a lovely bloke and we thanked him again as we headed off to shop. There was a display frame with some old and new coins and a $1 and a $2 note as well.  The kids couldn’t believe that there was such a thing as $1 and $2 notes and paper

Candle dipping

ones at that!- how soon we forget but it was actually 1984 for the $1 and 1988 for the $2, when the $1 and $2 coins were introduced.  And did you know that new polymer notes were invented in Australia (joint venture with the Reserve Bank and the CSIRO) and we also print currency for many other countries due to the newer technology and anti-counterfiting measures built in to the notes. Well I never………!

We got to see how they made (and still do) wagon/coach wheels.  There is some amazing woodwork that goes into creating these things and the kids were suitably impressed as were we, even if the machinery was sooo loud! We headed up to the old bowling alley for some bowling and fizzy drinks and the boys tried their hands at candle dipping.  The lovely gentleman there also told us about the history of candles in the settlement, costs and worth of candles at the time and that kids Wade’s age and older would be sent to work by their parents for extra money.  Mmmm now there’s a few possibilities………..

Old Fashioned Bowling

It was a very long but fantastic day and even though we were there all day we didn’t get to see every show or exhibit.  The kids and us had a great time and i would definitely recommend a day here for sure. Best of all there’s plenty of room for them to run amok as well!  I can’t believe how bloody cold it is here – 3 and 4 degrees and I’m sure it’s not far off snowing, brrrrrrr.

We headed to the Gold Museum which is just across the road from Sovereign Hill and it extends the story of Ballarat and the gold rushes.  Some of it was quite interesting but too much info for the kids and they did get a bit bored after awhile.  We headed back to camp for the boys to do some schoolwork, then off for a run and some warm soup for tea! Thank god for powered sites is all I can say ‘cos we’ve been running the heater pretty hard at nights!

Till next time



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