Postcard: {more} Ballarat Winter Festival

We are guests of Visit Ballarat and have had all our accommodation, meals and entry covered generously by all these businesses…thank you! I love being able to share travel tales from different parts of this country – especially in regional centres like Ballarat.

We’ve arrived safe and sound at my sister’s place back in Melbourne, happy but exhausted from so many adventures in Ballarat. So much wholesome family fun…we really were so lucky to experience these great businesses and all they have on offer during the Winter Festival which is running from now until the end of July. Let’s have a look at what we got up to over the last 24 hours.

We started our morning off yesterday enjoying a fabulous breakfast at Eclectic Tastes Cafe & Pantry at Lake Wendouree. I was so impressed with the service, style and of course food at this place…it was absolutely delicious and for a Tuesday morning pumping. We all got stuck into a hearty breakfast with Mags most pleased with what as on offer.

I loved driving around Lake Wendouree too – grand houses and beautiful parks (especially good ones for kids)…perfect people watching and then discovered a connection to my old High School seeing a Loreto College there. Great spot!

From there we headed into the Winter Festival Hub right in the heart of town (around the corner from the Gallery) for some ice skating. I was grateful for Maggie as an exude to not hit the ice but Rob and the girls did and had an absolute ball.

There are slides and lots of different activities down there that kids can join in on.

After an afternoon sleep for Mags (at last!) we headed out to Ballarat Wildlife Park  to the absolute delight of Mags. She really is the perfect person for us all to travel with…letting the big kids be little ones again and delight in everything around us. What a joy she is! The park is filled with lots of native animals, some crocs, some new penguins and a great spot to sit down and toast some marshmallows on a cold afternoon. Mags loved this place!

We finished off this great day with a real highlight for me…dinner at The Forge Pizzeria on North Street. This place is a MUST see, I loved everything about it. Great atmosphere, food, style, staff and they are obviously doing something right this place was PUMPING for a Tuesday night. It’s a huge space and yet there wasn’t room to move. Proof that when you get the recipe right, you will be busy all the time. Wish we had something like this in the Highlands.

This morning we were back into the hub in town for breakfast at another great cafe Little Bird in Sturt Street. This place has a great retro diner feel with booths and seats serving fabulous coffee, an amazing selection of home made cakes and sweet treats and some yummy home made cooking…we had a delicious breakfast (think thick home made crumpets with lashings of jam and butter, coco pops for kids! And yummy mushrooms and goats cheese) and for me WITH the rind on which makes me SO happy.

Our last stop on the way out of town was to Kryal Castle. Opened in 1974 this place has been through a few lifetimes and still stands. It was renovated a few years back and was actually much better than we were expecting it to be. Daisy is MAD for Merlin and anything King Arthur so she was BESIDE herself at this place with all things King Arthur…knights of the round table, horse riding and a whole castle grounds set up. Think lots of English accents and “Lords and Ladies!” and medieval music being pumped through the speakers, Rob and I had lots of Wally World moments but the girls LOVED it. Potion workshops, live horse shows, they really had so much fun. Rob and I laughed a lot.

As we stood in the carpark packing up for the last time I said to him “Oh Sparky, we did alright” the kids were exhausted and STOKED with everything that we got to enjoy. I felt very lucky that we even got the opportunity to visit and share with you guys. I was amazed by the grandeur of Ballarat. She’s quite the city! I felt like we could have been in Adelaide (a lot of the houses reminded me of the style of South Australia). Ballarat is HUGE and growing too. The expanding houses now reach to the outskirts of places that were likely once in the middle of nowhere…houses reach the fences of Sovereign Hill and the Wildlife Park too. I loved how friendly everyone was, smiles and happiness everywhere. I loved the people behind these great businesses – lots of family duos of sisters (at Little Bird) and brothers (Forge Pizzeria) they are working hard and nailing it. I loved the passion and enthusiasm of the people at Sovereign Hill working hard and bringing history to life for so many families to enjoy. I can’t imagine how much money these places take to run…it’s up to us to keep them alive! As much as I remember holidays like this as a kid I know that my girls will always remember this trip (and they have journals to remind them!).

We visited:
Eclectic Taste Cafe & Pantry
Winter Festival Hub
Ballarat Wildlife Park
The Forge Pizzeria
Little Bird Cafe
Kryal Castle

I loved everything about the last few days. Thanks Visit Ballarat for letting me have the opportunity to do so, and for making my family very happy. Thank you!


  1. Thank you for sharing your adventure, looks like you all had a fabulous time. xx

  2. I am just loving your family car trip… Holiday Roaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad…. you are totally doing a National Lampoons vacation! ha ha ha. Love it.

  3. Lynda Smyth says

    Hi Beth, have really loved following your road trip every day – I have 3 girls too but they are big girls now and I’m wishing we had gone to Ballarat with them when they were little girls! So much fun, thank you for sharing your wonderful adventures with us!

  4. Samantha says

    Beth – where did you stay in Ballarat? Cheers Sam

  5. Kryal Castle OMG! I went there with my grandparents in 70s and thought it was a little bit naff even at the age of ten. Am surprised and pleased that it’s still going strong.

    • I think it had a very long time where it was not a great place to be – but they have turned it around. The girls loved it!

  6. What a fantastic school holiday adventure. It is so NICE to know that the things that we enjoyed as kids, and that were treats for us in a non-technological age, are still treats for your kids.

    Yay for Mags keeping you all connected to wonder and joy!

    This makes me want to take a road trip, so mission accomplished Beth!

    Enjoy Melbourne, we’ve turned on the blue skies and sunshine for you.

  7. I remember going to Kryal Castle in the 80’s and they were doing pretend public lashings. A woman was tied to a pole and the back of her dress was ripped off and they ‘lashed her’… blood and all – I don’t know how on earth they did it. Thirty odd years later and I still remember it – scarred for life!!

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