Luka and I got back on Tuesday from a few days in Ballarat (about 100km from Melbourne), travelling with a dear friend from Sydney to visit other dear old friends who are now living there. Travelling with a baby is a very different thing! Gone are the days of starting and finishing a book on a plane trip, slow, contemplative coffees between flights, relaxed strolls in the departure lounge. It was more work, but travel - as with life - with my little man is a lot more fun! I was very fortunate to have Sarah to travel with - the perfect travel companion, especially with a baby.
Luka was pretty near perfect on the way there and back. Once there, he was a little more unsettled than usual, but did quite well overall. And the travel itself was a dream. Which bodes well for this young man's future...
Asleep in the shuttle bus on the way there
And asleep in the shuttle bus on the way back
Happy mum and Luka after arriving back at Sydney airport
Ballarat was a delightful little city. Big enough to have plenty of interesting sights to see. Small enough to still be a quaint country town. We enjoyed a walking tour of the old area of town. Its important place in Australia's gold rush era makes for a beautiful old town. The buildings have been well maintained and walking around felt like I was on a movie set.
Ballarat Congregational Church
Inside Ballarat University, which used to be the old gaol. Beautiful grounds.
The gorgeous old multiplex cinema
Enjoying a morning in the art gallery, which houses a great collection
A lot of art related to the history of the area
Rosie and Luka made more noise than most art gallery visitors, but I also think they might have enjoyed it more!
The lake - a very short walk from our friends' house - was beautiful, again with many lovely buildings, these ones to house boats.
We picnicked in the Botanic Gardens on a lovely Sunday afternoon. (We chased the hot weather each way, arriving in Ballarat to a 38 degree day and back to Sydney for a 43 degree day. But our stay in between was perfect.)
Walking into the Botanic Gardens
Mighty sequoia trees
Delicious picnic lunch - broad bean and roasted pumpkin frittata, roasted capsicum hummus, salad, bread and amazing chocolate brownies. Yes, every meal was as good as this one. We were spoilt!
The beautiful Rosie having fun in a cardboard box
Luka loved his picnic lunch
We did only a little shopping. One morning. Two shops. Both patchwork shops and both amazing! I was in shopping heaven.
Ballarat Patchwork. A test in willpower.
And the lovely house that is Gail's Patchwork Emporium, recently burned down, now rebuilt and gradually being restocked. Still very impressive!
I wanted to buy a LOT but was very restrained and came away with just a small pile of beautiful goodies.
My friends' house was gorgeous. I'm sure everyone got sick of hearing me say how cute all the weatherboard cottage-type houses were as we walked around town. Combined with my friend's beautiful decorating style, this particular house was perfect! I wanted to package it up and put it in my pocket to bring back home.
Luka enjoying a chair that George re-upholstered herself, amazing girl that she is!
Gorgeous old blanket box
Luka swimming in books. What a life!
But beyond a lovely city, nice weather, cute house and beautiful fabric shopping, it was - first and foremost - just a very special time with friends with whom I hadn't really caught up in years. They were the perfect hosts: obviously enjoying having us visiting, thoughtfully preparing many delicious meals, making us feel comfortable enough to be in a hotel but welcome enough to be part of their home. And their most gorgeous little girl charmed us all - she was funny, super energetic, cheeky, beautiful. I miss their faces already. Need to start planning another trip back... It was just the refreshing break I needed!