Gaols, Gold & Good Times

Do you know what one of my favourite things to do is? Go on a road trip! And living in the gorgeous Australia provides a great journey, no matter where you are.

I assembled what was left of my friends; Gustav, Veera and Filip, and rented a car. We were supposed to leave very early on Saturday morning, but I was late (totally not like me….) so we left mid-morning. The main thing I love about a road trip is sitting back, listening to music and watching the scenery – however I wasn’t allowed to partake in this soothing activity as I had to bloody drive!! You see, I’m the old granny of the group since I’m 25 and everyone else is in their early twenties, and because of rental laws I had to rent the car in my name (plus we got it cheaper that way). Fun fact about me: I can legally drive but I’m not very good at it. However, I had no choice so sucked it up and managed to take us out on the road safely.

Our first stop was in Geelong; it was around an hour outside of Melbourne and is a gorgeous town right by the water. We went for a stroll around the water, and noticed a boat selling ‘fresh’ seafood, so I obviously went over to investigate.

I was extremely let down, it wasn’t clean and the people working on the boat didn’t convince me that the oysters (which is what I wanted to buy) were safe to eat. So we passed up on the dodgy seafood experience – probably for the best – and continued to wander. A big wheel was our next distraction, so we decided to treat ourselves to a wee ride:

It was very windy but we had a great view of Geelong. After the ride, we went for a stroll down closer to the water and took in the sights:

Then we headed back to the car and googled more things to do in Geelong. We were recommended to visit an old abandoned warehouse that had been covered in art; it was called Powerhouse. We pulled up to it and absolutely loved the art; each piece was unique and some were very risque. However, it was hard to appreciate it since you couldn’t trespass on the property – that didn’t stop the boys though as they ran and touched the building (but immediately came back) #rebels

Not far from Powerhouse was a vintage market, so without thought we pulled in and explored the market.

After spending a few hours in there, we decided to leave and find out what else was on offer. The car journey lasted just under two minutes as we passed a place called ‘Sexy Land’ and, with that name, we HAD to go in. We became very immature and laughed at all the products on offer, then swiftly left when serious shoppers came in.

Dinner time had come around, and in typical backpacker style, we sat in the car and ate a picnic, that had: salami and ham sandwiches, avocado, carrots, oranges, salmon pate and jaffa cakes (weird combo I know). After dinner, we headed up to Geelong Gaol (strange word isn’t it? Well the correct spelling for us in ‘Jail’ – bloody Aussies and their weird lingo!) for a ghost tour. The tour guide took a shine to Veera and named her number six and used her for all the historical examples. We walked around the first level of the gaol/jail, learning that it ran from 1864 to 1991 and that the prisoners crimes ranged from murder to just being a drunk.

Our tour guide started talking about the first spooky story, but Veera and I missed the majority of it because something distracted us. One of the cells had banging coming from inside; none of the others did and the sounds faded in and out. Veera and I love ghosts so were fascinated by this, and even attracted some other ‘believers’. It creeped us out a bit too much so we joined back with the group. We then headed onto the second level and learned about a little girl that was thought to haunt the stairs; from when the prison was a girls school. The tour guide needed to lure the little girl out with one of us, so who did she choose? Veera of course! Nothing much happened though, and we were still distracted by the bangs from the cell.

We walked around the whole prison, learning about how tough it was to live there; prisoners had to be in complete silence 24/7, they only had 1 hour of recreation time a day and how mesh had to be installed between levels because too many people were taking their lives/pushing others over the banisters. The kitchen and the autopsy room were right next to each other, and they even had a trap door for dead bodies to fall in between these rooms. Lovely.

The tour was coming to an end but not before getting a photo of our group. Veera and I may have gotten too into character:

The tour was awesome! We experienced cold spots and heard noises but were wanting more so may have to go back…

Once that had finished, we got back into the car and drove another two hours to our favorite spot in the rain forest. The car journey there was up there with the ghost tour, because we were driving in the pitch black and I was on directions. Thank goodness we didn’t get lost, and managed to find the secret camping spot. Since the trip was extremely short term, we couldn’t afford a camper-van, so slept in our car instead. Here’s a sneaky pic of the group in the morning:

It wasn’t the comfiest sleep I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t the most un-comfiest either. It did the job, but I could have done without the boys farting all night. After we all woke up, we decided to explore the amazing camp ground once more (it was the same place we visited on our great ocean road trip). The first thing we did was go to the water, and get back on the swing:

Then we decided to venture into the woods, but had to leave Veera as she only had thongs on. The adventure didn’t last long and we headed back to the camp ground. The sun had finally come out so I could get some lovely snaps:

We then hopped back into the car and headed to our next destination; Sovereign Hill, Ballarat. I had visited this place when I was 8 years old and absolutely loved it, so thought my friends would enjoy it too. Here’s a little throwback to when I went back in 1999 with my parents:

How fashionable was I??

So what is Sovereign Hill you say? It’s an old fashioned themed gold mining town, where actors walk around dressed in Victorian attire; there’s themed shops and fun themed activities. Honestly I love a themed place so I felt so excited to be back.

The first item on the agenda was exploring the old main street and having a nosey in the shops:

Then the boys and girls split up; the boys went to watch gold bars being made and Veera and I went to watch sweeties being made. It was so interesting to watch and we even got a cheeky free sample at the end:

Next up was my favourite activity of all time; panning for gold! Here’s my dad showing us how it was done in 1999:

The four of us grabbed a pan, pushed a few kids out the way and started to look for gold. Here we are:

We weren’t being very successful, so a helpful member of staff gave us some instructions. After that, we all managed to find gold! However, we weren’t made millionaires that day with our big nuggets, instead we settled with flakes of gold that probably equated to $10.

Next up was a gold mine tour, which started off fantastically! We sat in a cart and got lowered into a cave; it was so cool! Then when we got off we explored the candle lit caves, and even came across some gold:

The tour reminded me a lot of Coober Pedy, as miners would risk their lives to get the goods but this time it was gold and not opals. The tour then came to an end, and we got a cute wee train back to the cart. I love little touches like that!

It was approaching the end of the day, so I put in one last request and it was to go candle dipping. At one point I didn’t think they did it but a sign advertising the experience brought my faith back. I paid $4 to dip my own candle, and because I love colour I went for a rainbow! Honestly I was so happy with myself:

We all then had to say goodbye to Sovereign Hill and get back on the road, but not before stopping to get a cheeky Nandos:

I hadn’t had one in Australia yet, so was excited to see their take. Filip and I shared a platter, that had: lemon and herb chicken legs, mango and lime chicken loins and BBQ chicken ribs, with a side of peri peri chips and slaw too. It was so tasty and gave me the energy to drive us all back home.

It was an amazing trip with fantastic people. I love living in Oz and being able to do things like this extremely last minute.

I can’t wait for our next adventure!

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