Road Trip! Day 12 – Ballarat – and the road home…

Gundagai McDonald's windmill

And so in the blink of an eye, our last holiday day dawned.

We had been on the road for nearly two weeks, and although we’d been having a brilliant time, we had reached the point where we needed to go home to touch base – you know, wash clothes, visit the pets, read the mail…that kind of thing…LOL!

So we set off from Ballarat headed for home – but not before stopping in at the local Maccas for our morning coffee, tea and orange juices.

Ballarat McDonalds is worthy of a mention – located on Bakery Hill in Ballarat, the building is old brick in keeping with the historic location. Inside it’s huge and quite stylish – built on several levels, and complete with multiple TVs playing the morning news – Tony Abbott is still PM apparently (funny how blissfully out of touch you can become when you’re away from home and out of routine!).

There is an excellent indoor children’s playground – so this could serve as a good parent travel break spot – plus there’s always the free wifi, which also works in the car park!

Ballarat McDonalds has a great kid's playground

Ballarat McDonalds has a great kid’s playground

Our total trip home would be around the 7-8 hour mark (without breaks) if we drove straight through. With a car load of people, we decided to aim for Albury, and keep going if all was well with everyone, and I wasn’t too tired – there’s nothing worse, or more dangerous than driving really tired.

In planning the route home, we had the options of driving the straight highway back to Melbourne and then up the freeway, or going cross-country to the freeway. The latter was also the longest option, but nobody wanted to backtrack, so we opted for the scenic route!

Hanging Rock looms over the tourist car park

Hanging Rock looms over the tourist car park

We passed along back roads, country towns and zig-zagged our way across the countryside. We passed through Hepburn, home of the famous springs and spas – it was so beautiful there.

We stopped at Tourist Info at Woodend to use the (very clean) toilets there. Reading the information plaque outside was interesting – Woodend was named for its location at the end of the “gloomy and dangerous Black Forest”. I thought it sounded a little Hansel-and-Gretel-esque!

This Woodend plaque tells that Woodend was the end of the gloomy and dangerous Black Forest!

This Woodend plaque tells that Woodend was the end of the gloomy and dangerous Black Forest!

The Macedon Ranges were huge, and we had a quick drive up to the original Hanging Rock (as in the eerie old movie Picnic at Hanging Rock).

We stopped at the small town of Lancefield to find a bakery, and bought four meat pies and donuts – not the healthiest lunch perhaps, but a fast, easy one that I knew everyone would eat – holiday-fare survival!

Kilmore was our last town before getting on to the Freeway, and we stopped in at the park there to eat lunch and for the kids to stretch their legs on the excellent playground there – great for a family stop.

Kilmore playground makes for a good family rest-stop

Kilmore playground makes for a good family rest-stop

It took us around an hour and a half to make it from Ballarat to the freeway which led to Sydney, and from then on it was straightforward cruise control most of the way home.

Once we reached the freeway, for the first time during the whole trip, I allowed the girls to watch movies together on their iPads. Not allowing the kids to spend the journey glued to their tablets was one of the best decisions I had, kind of unconsciously, made. It left the girls to look out of the windows, write in their journals, chat with each other and us, read books and play all sorts of imaginary games together – and get up to mischief! I did allow them to use the iPads / iPod to for photos or video, and the girls thought it was hilarious to make loud and crazy songs and then play them back to me whilst I pretended to be annoyed! It was all good fun!

We had a few rest stops, including Caltex Seymour and Gundagai McDonalds (avoid the Gundagai McDonalds – it was a mass of flies inside!) and with the help of a few coffees I was feeling fine, and drove the rest of the way home that evening!

In the end…

we had travelled for 12 days,
drove 2,500 kilometres
stayed in 8 hotels/motels
…and made many new wonderful family memories!

Thank you for joining us on our Victorian Road Trip – we hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our meandering journey. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed coming along for the ride – maybe we’ve even inspired you to go searching for your own adventures with your kids!

I hope you join us again for another family jaunt as we family-test-run our next destination! Now about that huge pile of washing…

Have laptop - will travel!

Have laptop – will travel!

Today’s route…

You can read our previous 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…

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

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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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