As you would imagine discovering anew is quite an experience.  It’s been with these fresh set of eyes that Judy has finally met the remainder of my family and close friends.

It’s interesting that she’s enjoyed almost every aspect of our trip including visiting the small town where I was born, all the things that I took for granted.

She particularly loved the beautifully restored grandeur of this region, even Clunes which I couldn’t wait to escape when I was 17.

Discovering anew through a fresh set of eyes was refreshing.

Discovering anew was like when I brought the kids here from Canada. Everything is wondrous and beautiful through a new set of eyes…

We spent eight days in Ballarat in the first major leg of our road trip.  For those of you familiar with this part of southern Australia there is a lot of history and indeed, historical significance to Ballarat and indeed the Central Goldfields region.

My childhood home of Clunes is relatively close to Ballarat and is where they filmed movies like Mad Max (the original) and more recently Ned Kelly because of beautifully preserved main street from the 1850’s.

Fun fact:  The main reasons is that the town has no overhead power lines and therefore relatively easy to make over the old town and a perfect place to shoot a movie.

Our first port of call after arriving was to visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park so Judy could spend time with the kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas that are within the park.  A definite must see if you visit!

Next, we visited Lake Wendouree which Ballarat is centred around.  Not only does it have an incredible Botanical Garden within its environs but also has a terrific jogging, walking, and cycling track around the shady 6-kilometre foreshore.

The other important attraction to visit is Sovereign Hill.  This pioneer village is a step back to the Australian goldrush of the 1850’s.

Pretty cool experience and worth the visit, especially the mine tour that takes you over 200 meters underground into mine shafts cut from the quartz and alluvial soil.  Not something if you’re claustrophobic though…

We also ventured further afield and drove up to Maryborough where I attended secondary school before continuing onto Castlemaine and Daylesford.

All three towns are considered part of the broader Central Goldfields region and the heart of golden age of mining in Victoria.

Daylesford is an interesting town, in that it’s become an arts destination with lots of galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

And over the past two decades it’s seen a significant influx of artists, designers and creative types that have really contributed to the vibe in this country town.

After our family Christmas it was time to say goodbye to family and begin to make our way home.

We made it to Melbourne on Boxing day (Dec 26th) and stayed in an apartment adjacent to Southbank and close to the Central Business District CBD).   Just in time for the first heat wave of the summer mind you….

I’m talking 37C at 8:30 pm.

A couple of tips for those of you considering visiting Melbourne, firstly it has the best restaurant and coffee culture in Australia.  No big chains here thank you very much, all small business owners with delicious coffee and homemade treats.

During one of our excursions around the city we took the tram (streetcar) to Brunswick Street getting off at Gertrude and walking through the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy.

This part of the city is equal parts grit and bohemian and chock full of boutiques and cool artisanal shops intermingled with many empty and abandoned stores (post covid).

From here we strolled west to Lygon Street, which was once considered the centre of Little Italy, but now embraces restaurants from all over the world…

We grabbed a coffee and pastry at DOC

The highlight of our visit to Melbourne were centred around two art events.

The first was at the LUME gallery situated within the Convention Centre which featured a collection of the works from the great impressionists – Monet, Degas, Seurat, Manet, Cézanne, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec…

The difference between this exhibition and a standard one at a gallery is that the experience is totally immersive – 360-degree experience – the art was on the floor, walls, roof and combined with movement and a musical soundtrack to bring the works to life.

An incredible experience!

We also visited the National Gallery of Victoria to view the Alexander McQueen exhibition.  McQueen was one of the most celebrated and original fashion designers of his era.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2010 at the age of 40…  Can you imagine the pressure of being the head of one of premier French fashion houses at the age of 26?  A true genius lost!

It is an amazing and diverse collection of his work over the last decade of this life and worth a visit.  It’s on until April 16, 2023, if you’re visiting Melbourne.

This road trip has been all about discovering anew.  I feel fortunate that Judy is such a good sport and was okay with such a long and extensive trip across Australia.

We’ve seen some great sights and enjoyed time with family so far, but our visit to Melbourne marks the turning point for our trip in that from here on we’re slowly making our way back north to Newport.

Until next week