Archive for July, 2014

July 21, 2014

18 to 21 July To Ballarat by train

18 July 2014
Left work at 3pm to meet Pat at Southern Cross station. We caught the 3.20pm train to Ballarat for our extended weekend. Great timing for the train. Plenty of other bike riders doing the same thing. Journey took just over an hour. Our accommodation at Soldier’s Hill was very close to Ballarat station and we got there in a few minutes. Anna met us and let us into the great apartment we had for the weekend. She has 3 small children and raced to meet us with them all. We explored the place a little and I took photos before it got too dark.
About 6pm we ventured out to the shopping centre to find somewhere for dinner. Not a lot open that we could find but we did find L’Espresso in Sturt St. I’ve been there before but it’s a bit different now. The gnocchi was divine. Pat had it as well but without the pancetta. It was melt in your mouth good. None of the desserts came with cream so we weren’t tempted at all. Back to the apartment for an early bedtime. We were both really tired.

19 July 2014
Slept really well. My bed is really comfy and I wasn’t keen to leave it this morning. Went to find somewhere for breakfast and ended up at L’Espresso again. Scrambled eggs with salmon were good too. We cruised the shops but didn’t find any that were inspiring. Went all the way to the Bridge Mall but a lot of them were vacant. Decided to go for a bike ride and found our way to Lake Wendouree. There was quite a lot of rain last night and the lake is very high. Last time I saw it it was empty. We rode past many boat sheds, an 1956 Olympic memorial, lots of moorhens (I think that’s what they are), swans and ducks. It’s bigger than I remember although I’ve never been all the way around before. We stopped for lunch at Ballarat Yacht Club (had to sign in!) that had a great view of the lake. Pat had potato and leek soup, I had tortellini. Not as good as last night’s meal though. No tempting desserts there either.
After poring over the maps we had, we decided to find the Ballarat-Skipton rail trail. From the official map it looked like it started near the Avenue of Honour arch. After tearing our hair out for a while we looked at the map on my phone and discovered it was a good deal down Sturt St from where we were. By the time we found it we’d had enough and only rode as far as it crossed Sturt St again and came back. By then it was about 4pm and getting decidedly chilly! Relaxing now before we decide where to go for dinner.
Went to Jackson & Co just down Lydiard St a bit. We couldnt see it until we were right in front of it on the corner of Mair St. It was a little bit like a pub but with really good meals. I had a steak (unlike me) that was so tender it melted in your mouth. We lashed out and shared a lemon cheesecake with real cream! That was worth being bad for. We were pretty tired from our energetic day so back to the apartment for another early night.

20 July 2014
Where to have breakfast today? Straight down Lydiard St there wasn’t much open on a Sunday. We found a cafe at the George Hotel. Had great porridge with rhubarb.
Our next adventure was to try to find the start of the Yarrowee river trail not far from our apartment. It was a bit of a trial but we finally did it down a few steps. The ‘river’ was a large drain until we went quite a long way and it turned into more like a creek. Plenty of wildlife if you looked hard enough. We ended up at Gong Gong Reservoir but couldn’t find any body of water. Kirks Reservoir across the road was much more picturesque with a garden, bridges and walkways to explore. There was a large body of water as well. We should have brought some food as there was nothing close by. Going back the same way was a good deal quicker. Back into Lydiard St to the Java Cafe for a vege wrap for lunch. Bit of a rest then off to find the other end of the Yarrowee river trail. The river goes underneath the city of Ballarat and comes out further downstream at Grant St. We found the other end and followed it to find a power station in similar style as the pumping station at Scienceworks. Complete with massive chimney. Not far from there the drain turned into a river again and we followed the trail to another reservoir in Sebastapol. We could hear loud bangs that sounded like guns disturbing the peace. It was getting late so we turned back. On the way back we stopped at Redan Wetlands for some photo opportunities. The sun was out and it was quite warming. Along the way we had been seeing plenty of tiny red marked birds. I finally got a picture of them. They are so cute. Back to the apartment for a shower and rest.
Had Thai food tonight for dinner. Steamed barramundi with ginger and vegetables. Mmm. Pat had pad thai. Our last night. Ohhhh!

21 July 2014
Back to L’Espresso for breakfast this morning. Creamed rice wasn’t available so I settled for toasted muesli with fruit and yoghurt (something different!). We walked around the shops again but didn’t find anything inspiring this time either. Many of them are empty. Myers and Target are identical to Melbourne’s versions. Oh well back to the apartment for the last time. Clean up, pack up and off to Ballarat station and home again.
We had a fantastic time. The weather was cold but not windy or wet. No snow either!