Friday, 7 February 2014

Runaway Mum at Ballarat Goldfields

Its been awhile since I've posted and that's mostly because I've either been working like a mad thing to get ready for a wee break or I've been away on a wee break or I've come back to a mountain of work after my wee break.  A wee break, that is, lasting a total of  6 nights ON MY OWN!  Egad! Is it true?
Did i really go off and spend a few days away from my son and hubby leaving them alone to manage a home and little Miss Tilly on their own?  Really???  Such was the reaction of several of my fellow campers who queried where my family was.  Honest, I'm not sure if they were incredulous that i would do such a thing or were they just full of pure unadulterated jealously.  

"The Boys" (read 16 year old and 53 year old) got their usual booty of stuff for Christmas.  Having no interest in getting anything, i asked for "Time for Myself".   No cooking for anyone (though i do remember visitors being served meals), no housework (hmmm, i do remember a lot of setting up and homemaking going on), getting up when i wanted to (or when the neighbours children did but thankfully we were in sync and i loved their irish accents - so happy) and going to bed whenever i wanted including Nana naps.  Sound Good?

Many moons ago in the last century when i was but a lass i did my time of camping on riverbanks, squatting behind trees and being semi-dirty all day.  Well guess what?  At almost 50 (getting closer by the minute) i don't have to do that anymore.  But what i do have is a limited budget.  Thankfully about 5 years ago after a very expensive holiday staying in an apartment in Qld we bought a camper trailer.  It hasn't been used a great deal but my total holiday cost for the 6 days was less than $250 and to me that's a budget holiday.  As you will see i didn't go without.  Another cost saving was that my employer when hearing that i was umming and arghhing about going due to finances, threw me a fuel card to be used by myself and the boys running backwards and forward.  This really was helpful and a great saving.  

So where did i go?

Ballarat is 1 hr from home making it quick to get to and quick for visitors as well.  This place is so amazing and provides such great service that it is the 4th time I've stayed here.  Once you enter the gates you could be anywhere in Oz.  The temperature was between 27-40 during the day and at night  12 - 20.  A bit hot some days and I've since raised my right hand to Hubby and solemnly sworn that i will choose another time of the year to erect the camper trailer other than Mid Summer.  Goldfields is only about 800m from Sovereign Hill, one of the states leading tourist attractions.  Many of the guests of Goldfields make their way there and so there is actually a back entrance leading to a walking path straight there.  At night you can hear the sound effects from Blood On The Southern Cross. Its truly worth seeing.  

Most people stay in these air conditioned little cottages or turn up in caravans and motor homes.  

Its known as a miners cottage and comes with one, two or three bedrooms.  See the garden in front.  The entire site is covered in lavender bushes, standard iceberg roses and various natives.  Its like living in a garden.  

This walkway was full of bees, which didn't stop me running my hands over the lavender to release the scent.
The amenities block which is spotlessly clean.  I didn't think i should take photos inside, that would be a bit weird.  
Anyone for a dip in the pool?

On Tuesday 28th Jan, everyone left (to head back to school) and so i actually ventured into the pool and outdoor spa.  I did warn the owners they'd have to top the water up when i left.  
or perhaps the indoor spa area

This is actually quite warm and is lovely in the evening.   Its for private hire  - for $10 you get it all to yourself for 30 minutes.  Its also a swim spa so if you can be bothered you can turn up the jets and go for a swim.  
The site that i always get is not in the main camping area but off behind the pool where there is just 3 sites and the rest is a lawn area with a BBQ kitchen and tables.  It has 2 BBQs used mostly by the surrounding cabins and a sink with hot water.  My site is the closest and faces directly onto it and as such its like having my own kitchen. 

These BBQ's are cleaned till they gleam twice a day.  I cant believe the number of people who turn up to cook their meat and just walk away leaving it a disgusting mess for the next person.  If i could see pending doom, marinated meat, i race out and offer them my BBQ mat.  I wouldn't be without one of these and many never having seen them before, get one the next day.  I could have sold dozens of them.  
Not that i need another kitchen as i have my own in the annexe.

I have 3 gas hobs, sink and a 60L tank of water under the trailer.  On the bottom right you can just see my bar fridge which was full of all things girls love like salad, fruit, yogurt, juice, & chocolate.  I had brought lots of things from my garden at home so i was having grilled zucchini and tomatoes instead of meat.  Both are lovely with balsamic vinegar sprinkled on them.     
Glamp food 

I didnt have to share my diet ginger beer with anyone.  Yeah !!!
See, no messy BBQ.   I even got to have bread with seeds in it - not Tom's slimy white slice.  See how i cut a square out of the bread to hold my egg and stop it running everywhere. 
Those that don't come with a built in kitchen can also use the central camp kitchen which has everything you could ask for.  Fridge, freezer, ovens, microwave, indoor and outdoor dining tables, washing up area, cold drinks and chocolate vending machines, several bbqs, Internet cafe and just for fun a giant outdoor chess game.  They also run the kids club from here, either in or our depending on the weather.

I didn't need to use it but the laundry proves to be a meeting place for the ladies in the evening. 

So what does the rest of our camper look like? 
The other end of the annexe - crockery and cutlery set, oil burner with lovely smelling melts from Kim, pile of novels and puzzle books.   The windows can either be turned into verandas or rolled up.  
Up on top of the trailer inside is a queen inner spring mattress. We quickly got rid of the thin rubber one that came with the trailer. 

Normally at this end of the tent there is a self blow up queen mattress but with no one along for the ride i was able to set up another full length trestle table and have my laptop set up and also a fan to move the air around.  I hate having the tent messy so i always straighten up each day. Clothes are hung on hanger on the cross bars half way down.  I have a number of S Bend hooks so the floor is kept clear by handing everything up.   Good thing too because with the number of people who want the grand tour i wouldn't want my Reg Grundies laying around.  

So apart from reading, what else did i get up to?  Both Jessie and Kim told me i had really missed out not watching Downton Abbey.  So for Christmas i bought with a gift card the boxed set of the first 3 series.  This is what i did at night when all was quiet.  Not to worry the neighbours, i had headphones.  I did get carried away abit and a couple of nights i was going to bed in the morning.
This seems to have turned intoan advertisement for Ballarat Goldfields and for Arrow Campertrailers so i had better show you the outside.  This is not your Rays Tent City variety of trailer.  The canvas is extra heavy duty and the zips are massive.  On my first night it poured and with the rain only a few feet above my head it sounded amazing.  Its tied down so well it would stand the strongest winds.  Once i zip it up at night it is completely bug free though i was burning lovely orange scented citronella candles. The floor is part of the tent and so there are no gaps around the edges.  

How well you can put this up depends on  your site.  There is a slight slope on this one and so we couldn't get it completely tight.  It didn't bother me but it sure bothered Hubby. Being Ballarat there are also lots of buried rocks and so putting the pegs in (lots) takes time and grunt work.  

This is a keyed lockup for valuables.
Ok, now the bad news.  The main tent off the trailer could be up and plugged in and pegged down in an hour.  Add the annexe and all the extras (which is optional) and its probably a 3 hr job.  We don't use this for anything less than a week.  Due to hot weather (and pleas from The Boys) i came home a few days early.  This is why I've had to swear i wont do this again in mid summer.  It is tough job and the canvas is heavy to fold.  I got extremely burnt putting it up and Hubby got very hot as well (in other ways).  

Last time i was here, Hubby was working and i busted a knee the day before.  When i arrived, they took my car, while i hobbled on crutches to the site, and put it up for me.  I gave them the normal Oz currency of a slab and we were all happy. 

The good news is that everything that you saw in the tent above gets cleaned, boxed up and put in the trailer for next time.  There is a kitchen box, a microwave box, laundry and cleaning, toiletries and first aid.  The tables, clothes horse, mats, camp chairs, ladder, and annexe pieces also go into the trailer along with the fold in kitchen.  The main tent folds up like a concertina and packs flat so that it can be towed at normal speed. Everything is covered by a thick sealed zipped cover until it reaches our hard stand area in the front yard and there it is covered yet again.  All ready for next time.  Nothing gets taken out. Clothes and food, go in the boot of the car so it takes very little time on the home front. 

So what is there for kids to do other than the pool?   I received a lovely visit from Jessie from rabidlittlehippy and her 3 munchkins.   First it was onto the jumping pillow but they were really more interested in the soft sand that surrounds it.  Jessie did look a scream jumping from one end to the other until her pelvic floor gave out.  

At the far end of this enclosed playground is an air conditioned play room with indoor play equipment.  This is reserved for 0-5yrs but during holidays they also screen movies at various times.   
There is also a half size tennis court and next to it a basketball hoop for shots.
Tom and i spent some time in here playing pool very badly when they visited. 
The best thing about staying here is the people.  It is not only the owners and staff that are friendly and helpful but also the guests.  I don't know why but I've never had on any of my visits a rowdy crowd or groups of people who cause trouble.  Its such a family place.  I had a group of Irish families next to me for several days and they soon invited me into their midst for meals and singalongs.  I love that at night the men sing ballads along with the women.  Their accents were hilarious.  At night there was a Dad in each tent that snored.  They were going in tandem until i started to hear an equally disturbing noise in the tree above my head.  It was loud and kind of a strangled sound but in rhythm with the boys.  I rushed out in the morning saying "It wasn't me"  thinking that they would think it was me snoring but i told them it was the possums.  Not sleeping (Doh!) but having relations, above my head.  I was also adopted by a lovely Macedonia older women who told me "i was a lovely lady" and kept pushing her newly divorced son at me.  I kept saying, my husband this, my husband that...  it was a bit funny.  When they left they loaded me up with enough meat and veggies that i phoned the boys to come down for BBQ lunch the next day.   At night, it is the done thing to promenade along the roads around the park.  Everyone is on the move, stopping by, commenting on this and that, asking to have a look inside, or chatting about their journeys.  Some of the big Winnebagos are amazing inside.  When my Bestie came to visit, we walked 15 laps of the park without even a rest.    

And so that's it.   I went back to work for 2 days to do month end and then completed my wee break this week with another 3 days of reading and catching up on appointments for the family.  All ready for the next year ahead.  

Have you ever holidayed alone away from the family?  Tip for next time - leave the mobile at home.  

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land Of Oz


  1. Oh wow Lynda it sounds wonderful, I live in the town and have never seen the park.
    It sounds like you got a lovely break. You are set up really well. Glad you got a nice break x

    1. I did think of calling you to see if the kids wanted to come and lounge by the pool. One of the best things is being able, for $35 a night, to be able to share these facilities with friends. I second guessed myself that they would feel weird and yet they wouldnt have had to come near me except for drinks. Now i feel guilty i didnt do so knowing that they love the pool. Next time..... The park is so well hidden being off the main road. You would see the sign on left just before the turnoff to Sovereign Hill on right.

  2. Oh Lynda, congratulations on a little quiet time. What a brilliant Christmas present and and gorgeous trailer. I love how organised you are. I hate a messy campsite as well. And I laughed at your 'eggy bread'. My husband makes that for the kids, but he uses an egg ring to cut a round hole in the bread. Glad you had a good time - hope you feel a bit mentally recharged and ready to face the challenges of the new year:)

  3. Ooh I'm envious! of your 'me time' and your tent! Looks like a great site!

  4. Sounds like you had a great time despite the heat. I will add this to the list of places we might stay when we do our big trip around the country before moving to NZ.


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