Road Trip! Day 10 – Port Fairy – Warrnambool – Ballarat

On the road We bid good bye to our gorgeous waterfront villa and hit the road again today. It was at this point that we decided to leave the coast. We had reached the end of the Great Ocean road and its amazing sights officially at Warrnambool, and although Port Fairy was well worth the extra drive to visit, it was time to move on to new adventures!

So we headed off, but before leaving the coast altogether we stopped in again in Warrnambool, as we had been invited back to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village to take a look at it in day-light after their great laser shipwrecking of the Loch Ard show last night.

The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village was brilliant (there’s a feature review to come – watch this space!), with a fully recreated 1800’s seaside town – complete with farm animals! If you’re in Warrnambool, the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is well worth a visit.

The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village

The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is well-worth a visit

Finally, we were ready to leave Warrnambool, and so I set the route on Google Maps and pointed the car inland towards Ballarat – the gold rush town! Warrnambool to Ballarat is a really easy drive, and although it’s lots of straight inland roads, it’s not boring. There are a few tiny hamlets along the way – you also pass by some interesting landmarks such as Elephant Mountain, a huge round-backed mountain that is quite in the shape of the top half of an Elephant!.

Elephant Mountain, Victoria

Elephant Mountain, Victoria

One of the creeks we passed was named Haunted Gully – we speculated as to just why this would be! Now and then we would see a Koala or Kangaroo road sign, but no actual visible wildlife to speak of other than birds.

Around 2 hours after we left Warrnambool we pulled into Ballarat, a large and historically significant inland city. Ballarat was the location of a gold-rush from 1851 to the late 1860s and the location of the famous Eureka Stockade – a tragic clash where Ballarat miners rebelled against the government for unfair conditions. Ballarat is now a large and well-serviced city, with many beautiful old buildings.

Ballarat main-street

Ballarat main-street

We would be spending the next two nights at the Sovereign Park Motor Inn in Ballarat. This is a brilliant Motor Inn to stop at – just one kilometre down the road from Sovereign Hill, it’s great quality at a competitive price – with surprising facilities! You can read our Sovereign Park Motor Inn review here.

While the kids had a play in their indoor playground I ordered dinner for all of us from the connected The Red Lion restaurant. Luckily they also operate as room service, so I asked for dinner to be delivered to our room an hour later so that I could take the kids for a quick dip in the wonderful pool – heated indoor, with fountains, stepping stones and Jacuzzis! (At this point, I might just add that it is really hard to type when children keep sending gigantic splashes over the laptop to get you to come in!)

There's nothing like a refreshing swim after a road trip!

There’s nothing like a refreshing swim after a road trip!

After the kids had burned off some energy in the pool we headed back to our room for dinner. The food was way beyond what you expect a Motor Inn room service to be – absolutely delicious! After dinner it was time to go to the Sovereign Hill Sound-And-Light Show.

Sovereign Hill Sound-And-Light Show “Blood on the Southern Cross”

The kids enjoyed the Sovereign Hill Sound-And-Light Show “Blood on the Southern Cross” show. I thought it was good, but given the multi-million dollar budget, it could have perhaps been a little more interactive.

The show starts off as a video presentation in a theatre, introducing the story of the Eureka Stockade, which is the event this show is based around. You are then moved outside of the theatre, down to the Sovereign Hill tourist park gold diggings area. There was quite a bit of standing around to watch this part of the show. The kids were surrounded by adults, and so couldn’t see much.

Much of the show, both at the diggings and at the main set location is basically lights going on and off in scattered tents and buildings, with a narrator and role-play dialogue played over the top. Sort of like an invisible play.

The Sovereign Hill Sound and Light show

The Sovereign Hill Sound and Light show

I overheard a couple of Australian tourists making critical remarks behind us as we went around each location as to how “interactive” they thought the show really was – and to a certain extent, I thought they were right. We just seemed to be shuffled around from one location to another for the same effects to tell each part of the story of the Eureka Stockade. That said, there were a couple of surprises during the show that made you sit up in surprise!

We were transported in a bus with connected open air carriages from the first outdoor scene at the diggings to the main set at the other side of Sovereign Hill site. This was the kids favourite part of the night – travelling through the dark village on a journey to who-knows-where! Upon arrival a couple of minutes later we were directed to another theatre which opened up to an outdoor set.

Seated in another theatre, the kids could actually see what was going on in this part of the show which was a vast improvement. The outdoor set for this main part of the show was life-size and huge – the scale of it was certainly impressive. However, again, with only sound and light and no actual character acting, following the story depended a lot upon your imagination. For this reason I think the kids had some trouble following the storyline. Many of the kids in the audience seemed restless. I asked my two children later what they thought the show was about – Samantha (7) had absolutely no idea, and while Brooke (9) could retell a couple of show events, she still didn’t have an overall understanding of the Eureka Stockade.

The girls were delighted to meet the character actor from the Sovereign Hill Sound-And-Light Show

After the show the girls were delighted to meet an actor from the Sovereign Hill night show!

At the end of the day though, even though they couldn’t follow it that well the kids did enjoy the Sovereign Hill sound and light show, so that of course is a real positive. They really loved the excitement and night-time experience of being at Sovereign Hill after-hours. I myself did find it entertaining, just not brilliant value for money as a family show.

As the show hadn’t started until 9pm due to daylight savings we didn’t get back to our hotel (just a minute away) until past 11pm. This made it a long night for the kids, but with Sovereign Hill not opening until 10am the next morning – our next activity – they could sleep-in – and they did!

Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photographs of the show, hence my lack of photographs – apologies for that, they wouldn’t budge on this point even for our blog, so I can’t show you any of it here.

Admission prices to the Sound and Light show only (prices correct at time of publishing):

Adult $59
Concession $47.20
Child $31.50 (Under 5’s are free)
Family (2 adults, 2 children – no single parent family discount) $160

Today’s route – Point Fairy to Ballarat

You can read our Road Trip! daily posts here:

Read the Road Trip! Day 1 blog here  -Canberra to Gundagai to Wangaratta
Read the Road Trip! Day 2 blog here – Wangaratta to Glenrowan to Aireys Inlet
Read the Road Trip! Day 3 blog here – Aireys Inlet to Lorne
Read the Road Trip! Day 4 blog here – Lorne
Read the Road Trip! Day 5 blog here – Lorne to Apollo Bay to Cape Otway
Read the Road Trip! Day 6 blog here – Cape Otway
Read the Road Trip! Day 7 blog here – Cape Otway to 12 Apostles to Port Campbell
Read the Road Trip! Day 8 blog here – Port Campbell to Warrnambool to Port Fairy
Read the Road Trip! Day 9 blog here – Hearn’s Beach & Port Fairy
Read the Road Trip! Day 10 blog here – Port Fairy to Warrnambool to Ballarat
Read the Road Trip! Day 11 blog here – Sovereign Hill gold mining village, Ballarat
Read the Road Trip! Day 12 blog here – Ballarat and the road home…

Tomorrow we’re spending the day in Ballarat to return to Sovereign Hill – we’ll catch up with you then!

Have you travelled (or want to) travel to Port Fairy or Ballarat with your family? Comment here!



About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!
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