The Battle for Ballarat

There is something brewing in Ballarat, not the excellent craft beer, nor is it the upcoming 160th celebrations of the Eureka Rebellion.

The red coats are coming!  #ballarat #sovereignhill

On the last Saturday in November, myself and Mr BG will head to the local primary school to vote in an upcoming State Government Election. We will be inundated with how to vote cards thrust upon us by the party faithful, ensconce ourselves at a cardboard booth and consider who will be our representative for our electorate for the next four years. With any luck, there will be a sausage sizzle.

Election Day in Ballarat

One would think that with an election, it would be the same old story- a few stories about Ballarat being the bastion of democracy, yada yada, the sitting members campaigning, a visit or two from the Premier and Opposition Leader, followed by the election day, with only a few people tuning in to the ABC for updates (cough cough). This year, it’s a little bit different…

In 2013 the boundaries of electorates were changed to allow for a more equitable distribution of votes in each electorate. For the city of Ballarat, this meant that the seats of Ballarat East and Ballarat West were amended and renamed. Ballarat East gained the area of Sebastopol, a traditional bastion of the ALP and was renamed Buninyong. Buninyong requires a 1.6% against the sitting member Geoff Howard for it to be won by a Liberal Candidate. Ballarat West was renamed Wendouree and with the loss of Sebastopol, has technically become a Liberal seat, even though it is held by the ALP. It requires a 0.1% swing to the ALP for it to be retained as a Labor seat.

As a result of the boundary changes, I am living in the most marginal seat in Victoria- so what does that mean?

There is the Battle of the Billboards, with prominent corners having been overtaken with Liberal Blue extolling the virtues of the contesting candidates Craig Coltman for Wendouree and Ben Taylor for Buninyong. Despite council requesting that some billboards be taken down as they do not comply with local planning laws, the billboards remain with a stoush in VCAT imminent. While I am seeing more blue billboards than red in my marginal seat, I am also seeing a LOT of ambulances with very pointed messages on how to vote, or how not to vote.

We have had numerous announcements from the Premier, the Minister for Planning, the Opposition Leader, and a myriad of dignitaries for photo shoots for the local paper, before they scuttle quickly back to Melbourne. Usually the local candidates are standing by their sides, nodding in the appropriate places and often wearing matching yellow vests and hard hats.

We have had the regional launch of the Liberal Party campaign in Ballarat over the weekend- in fact Mr BG thought he pprobably did see Premier Napthine around the corner! which also happened to coincide with the Ballarat Show. It was also another photo opportunity to proclaim more money for the Showgrounds, which desperately need an upgrade. The ALP also factored in a upgrade to Showgrounds facilities in its pledge to upgrade the nearby Eureka Stadium, for it to host AFL matches.

There has been announcements from both major political parties to guarantee the jobs of those workers currently building much needed trains for the Melbourne public transport system. This has come at a good time, as the current Liberal government awarded a tender to a Polish company, thus leaving Alstom the train foundry at risk of closure.

The Civic Hall saga has continued, with the Liberal Government pledging to bring VicRoads headquarters to Ballarat, with the site of the building to be built adjacent to the Civic Hall. As a result, plans for the Hall’s demolition have been placed on hold by the Liberal-dominated Council until the outcome of the election is known.

For the moment, I am sitting back and enjoying the attempts of both parties who are falling over themselves in attempt to woo voters :).




The Book Club

My friend Nardia is a fantastic person. She makes cheese, loves food and she introduced me to her book club, a group of ladies whom she got to know through being a ballet mum (there’s a lot of waiting around involved in being a ballet mum…).  It had been ages since I had been in a book club, way before kids, and it was nice to have a chance to talk about books and reading. I hate to spoil a stereotype, but being a librarian does not mean I sit all day behind a desk and read books, or talk books. I’d like to, but then I’d be out of a job :).

Anyway, we meet on the last Tuesday of the month at a local pub. where the publican graciously allows us the use of one of his rooms and we stay for around 1-2 hours, quaffing wine, or a tea or coffee and “talk books”. Honestly we do, but we also talk about our kids, what’s happening in our lives and trashy TV. Forgive me if I am not more specific, but what is talked about in book club, stays in book club.

This year, we were assigned a genre and we chose a book within that genre. As a result you get to read something you wouldn’t have even thought of picking up at a library or bookstore. It can be a classic like Catcher in the Rye, a popular title, or something a little bit saucy like 50 Shades of Grey- that evening was a hoot!

Some of the ladies buy the book selection at the start of the year, either from our local bookshops or online, or if you come to the book club a little bit late and are not the least organised (*cough cough*) you borrow from your kids, or from the library. My selection for book club this year was The Hunger Games, which saw a great deal of the ladies raid their children’s bookshelves for the title. (As a side note we all enjoyed it- young adult fiction is great fiction!).

For next year we are doing book bingo. Rather than genre, we are selecting a book like A woman writer, An Australian Writer, Something New, or for myself, A Book based upon a True Story. The book group ruled out true crime, so I will have to go for a hunt.

What I  have loved about being in a book club is that usually at the end of the night we ask around the table what else are you reading? This is a great way to get recommendations for further reading- word of mouth is so often the best way to find a good book to read. One my to-read list is Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North which rated a thumb up from one lady, and I put my two cents in for The Rosie Effect, the sequel to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.

Thank you to Nardia for helping me get my reading mojo back!


Thanks to Bookworld for supporting this post.

Pop Up Frock Up Ballarat

My favourite words are “frock” and “pop up”. When the two are together it is an irresistible combination.

I headed down to St Patrick’s Hall on the second day of the Pop Up Frock Up Ballarat with Miss BG.

2014-08-17 13.57.24Miss BG was happy to go and spend some time with mum, especially when the outing ended in cake. Once inside, we marvelled at the range and stalls. Sunday was quieter, and you could move quite easily amongst the stalls.

While it is lovely to have a shopping companion, a nearly seven year old who loves to touch does make you hyper aware that a) the goods on display are fragile and b) expensive. You couldn’t get lost in the racks, flicking through without making sure little hands were not touching too much stuff. I ended up giving her my phone so she could take some photos.

2014-08-17 14.16.38

Glamorous mannequin

The bling was definitely something which caught her eye and the dresses dod not disappoint. Vintage was quite an elastic term, with pieces from the last 20 years for sale, but stretching back to the 1930s.

Coat detail

Coat detail

There were though, a few dresses from the 19th century on display, which made for interesting viewing.

1890's - look but don't touch!

1890’s – look but don’t touch!

 Cake beckoned as Miss BG’s interest was waning as and luck would have, we were right across the road from the Golden City.

It was a lovely afternoon of window shopping and marvelling at the beautiful frocks on display 🙂

Snowed under

Snow! Winter in Ballarat is long, but snow definitely makes it worthwhile.

It was a magical hour between 11am and 12pm today when my workplace turned white. The rain turned to sleet, then snow started falling thickly.

I couldn’t feel my toes as I went outside with other hardy souls to take photos, have snowball fights or simply stand outside, excited like little kids.

I shared photos with my workmates across the other campuses in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne- all of whom were enjoying warmer weather conditions, but they were still excited to see it.

Then I returned back to my real work, wading through usage statistics and updating procedures…

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Eat, Drink, Share Ballarat

For the last couple of months, I have been running with a great group of ladies on a Saturday morning. It’s a good run and a great chance to meet and talk about everything under the sun. I wouldn’t have been able to do the Run for the Kids without them.

One of the ladies, Lyndel, has just started a new business called Eat Drink Share Ballarat. It’s a walking tour around Ballarat where you get to go to foodie establishments, look at what they offer and have a taste as well. And there are some really lovely places to eat and drink here, with fantastic local produce and excellent coffee.

If you are venturing up to Ballarat this weekend for the Heritage Weekend there are places available on the Saturday. You can also buy gift certificates as a birthday or Mother’s Day present.

I have bought some gift certificates already, and when I get back, I’ll be booking in as well!


A Day at M.A.D.E.

The afternoon on Anzac Day a couple of weekends ago was spent at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.



I had gone to a previous version of the museum, when it was known as the Eureka Centre. That had been quite a good museum, built on the most possible site of the Eureka Stockade itself, and told the story of Eureka quite well.

However it was not that sustainable and the centre shut, got rebuilt and then reopened as the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, or M.A.D.E.

It was a chance to see this museum which has attracted a fair bit of attention for overspending its council-allocated budget. Rather than rely on the belly-aching of The Courier’s comments pages, I wanted to gauge for myself what it was all about.

The museum is not in the centre of town, but in the suburb of Eureka, in Ballarat East. You can enter via Stawell Street (which runs off Victoria Street, the road to Melbourne), or via Eureka Street.

M.A.D.E. is set in a hollow, in a park adjacent to the Eureka Swimming Pool. There is also a playground, fashioned in the style of a wooden stockade, with a dozen wooden statues of troopers. The playground was in good use!

There was ample parking, mainly because the swimming pool had closed for the season. It turned out that the car park I had entered was on the opposite side of the entrance, which was a bit confusing.

Signage is an issue as the entrance door wasn’t really well marked, and it was really the presence of a sandwich board which alerted us to the entrance.

As we were Ballarat residents, we were allowed free entry- all we had to do was show evidence of our residential postcode. We were given a map and brief instructions and then entered the exhibition.

The museum has function rooms and a theatrette, but the actual exhibition space consists of a large room with alcoves. There is also a cafe on site, a small temporary exhibition space, and office space.

What I liked

The content of the museum and the concept is really good. It is a great expose of the history of democracy and they do very well to place Eureka within that context. It is seen as a part of workers agitating for greater representation

There is an exploration of people who are disenfranchised due to their race, gender or sexual identity, songs of protest, an expose of banned books and an interactive rotunda depicting the history of Eureka. A display of flags and their significance led to the Eureka Flag on display in a darkened space to preserve the fabric.

What could be better

I wish there was more! The exhibition space is quite small and there is a temporary exhibition space which is quite tiny. What this means is that concepts are not fully explored, or you are left wanting. A mention of the Goldsboro 4 left us with questions that weren’t answered in the museum and we had to go home and google it. I would have liked to see more about Women’s Suffrage, other Civil Rights movements such as in Northern Ireland or Solidarity,  and the Fall of Communism, but there isn’t the space.

Sometimes the interaction is too quick to see- the banned books exhibit of a screen with spines is a bit tricky and as a librarian who goes to bookstores, it would have been a better option to display the books on the screen face out, rather than relying on the spine to read on the interactive screen.

The function areas take up some space and there looks like a large space for offices from the maps provided. Unless they are being frequently utilised, they look like a waste of space.

What I would like to do with it

Create better signage to the museum or at least a better entrance- the placement of it in a hollow makes it a bit tricky.

I think the cost puts visitors off initially and sets the museum up for failure. There should be a significant reduction in the cost of entry to encourage people to attend.

More events and programs should be scheduled there, as presently there are just two and none appear to be forthcoming.

While there are activities for children to do in M.A.D.E. such as create your own flag, providing something for children like a democracy passport to ensure they visit each section and engage with the exhibition. Much of the material is skewed towards a secondary student demographic, which didn’t help with energetic kids. Luckily the playground outside was put to good use :).


M.A.D.E. Playground



There’s an opp shop in my street!

St. Peter’s Anglican church in Sturt Street has an op shop in their hall on a Friday from 10am to 2.30-ish. It’s a minute’s walk from my house, and with Master BG eager to escape from the house for a short while (he’s got a cold and was home from school), it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

It’s mainly clothes, with a little bit of bric-a brac, and they have a cupboard of manchester and napery. What I love about it is that when you walk into the foyer, the volunteers are always milling about, chatting and often having a cuppa.

When I was paying for my items, they were discussing the latest news of the Ballarat diocese allowing female deacons to be ordained as priests. One lady was bemoaning the fact she would be away during the ordinations for two female deacons already working in Stawell and Warrnambool. ‘You know, my husband would be turning in his grave at the moment’ she declared. Another lady nodded.’So would mine,’ she said, with a grin. I somehow get the feeling they were revelling in the news.

It’s also quite affordable- I bought a top for myself and 2 dresses for Miss BG for the princely sum of $8. Now I just need the weather to improve  so my daughter can actually wear them