Coming home #blogjune

This is my front door, a white door with lead lighting in the window.

It means I am home, after a long day at work, or from travelling for work. 

Sometimes I have Mooch waiting to be let in at the front door, especially if she has heard the car pull up. If I am lucky, there is a parcel at the door.

Inside it is warm, with a lovely hum from the presence of my family or the central heating.

I have been away from the family for work a bit the last few weeks, and it’s not easy. I am thankful that MrBG is there to keep things ticking along, and I know the kids are in safe hands, even though there seems to be a suspicious amount of white bread and chocolate mousse (in the form of a ‘dairy dessert’) being consumed in my absence.

After the craziness of the last few weeks at work I am glad for a refuge here.

Sunday wander and wonder #blogjune

Miss BG noticed a large building while we were shopping on Saturday. Part of Federation University (what used to be the University of Ballarat), the building looked quite derelict and forlorn. 

The little BGs and I went back today to see if we could get a closer look. This part of Fed Uni was once the School of Mines, established in 1870 and one of the oldest institutions of technical education in Australia. It was established to train engineers and other skilled workers for Ballarat’s gold mines. Its focus shifted to other technical pursuits when the mines closed, as evidenced by the Arts School building.

As we explored we found another part of Ballarat’s history, the  You could still see one of the turrets and the great steel doors. Much of the gaol has been absorbed into the university and only remnants of it exist.

We finally found the tower, which was cordoned off behind a wire fence. 

The kids enjoyed exploring and discovering a bit of their town they had never encountered before. It also felt a bit naughty to be traipsing around the grounds as if we were trespassing ☺

Heading home, a bit of sleuthing uncovered the original purpose of the tower. It’s a brewery tower originally part of the Ballarat Brewing Company. The company was established in 1895, and brewed Ballarat Bitter, amongst other beers. It waseventually sold to Carlton and United Breweries in 1958. When brewing ceased in 1989, the property was sold to the School of Mines in 1994.

A perfect way to spend a lovely sunny winter’s day in Ballarat 😀.

Degrees of separation #blogjune

Ballarat has around 100,000 residents, but it sometimes feels like you know everyone. 

Comparing Facebook friends with a girlfriend, we came across a couple of mutual friends- turns out I knew them through Twitter, and my girlfriend knew them because she was either related to them, or they had worked together at one point. 

I will go for drinks with one group of friends and bump into someone, who will know at least one other person I am with. I am mindful of talking about people, as I just know my words will be heard by a mutual acquaintance.

I have grown used to my circles of acquaintances converging and am somewhat intrigued by the situations that arise.  #becauseBallarat should be a thing :).


Watching the Begonia Festival Parade is more like counting how many people you know…

Of course, it’s like that in Libraryland, but it’s called a Network. I love platforms like Twitter, as my circles have increased to include librarians from other states and sectors. It has come in handy when I introduce myself to someone face to face that I have been conversing with online for ages.

It’s always fun when library circles converge, and they do regularly. One of my work colleagues used to work with Mr BG at the public library, I went to uni studying librarianship
with another work colleague, and the mother of one of Miss BGs mates works with Mr BG. #becauseLibraries ☺

EatDrinkShareBallarat #blogjune

The long weekend has beckoned and the first order of business is a walking tour of foodie Ballarat.

Food is taken very seriously in Ballarat- cafes and restaurants open under great scrutiny and are praised or pummelled in the local press. A second Vietnamese restaurant opened last week with much fanfare (we have a lot of Thai restaurants, but could do with a few dumpling places actually!).

In the last 10 years there has been a growing dedication to eating quality regional produce, and drinking quality wine and coffee. EatDrinkShareBallarat is a three hour tour of some of the best foodie places Ballarat has to offer. 

EatDrinkShareBallarat is run and owned by Lyndel, a running compadre of mine. The business has been operating for just over a year and is one of the top rated things to do in Ballarat according to Trip Advisor.

There are about seven stops on the route around central Ballarat, encompassing food, coffee and wine. The businesses are locally owned by people passionate about quality food, who are happy to talk about their business and what they offer. You are given a chance to buy along the way, and are provided with a complimentary brown shopping bag to put your purchases in.

Half the fun is in meeting and talking with other people on the tour. We had a few people who were in Ballarat for the long weekend from Melbourne as well as a few locals. I was there with my friend the lovely Shannon, and we had a ball chatting to the group about how good the weather was (ie not as bad as the freezing day Thursday was). I ran into a few people along the way I knew when we were out and about, as you do in Ballarat.

A few words

Liana from Finding Femme tagged me for a series of questions. Please read her- she’s a lovely lady.

It’s nearly the end of the year. What are your favourite achievements of 2014 so far?

2014 has been a year of journeys and travel to Tasmania for the summer holidays, Fiji for my sister’s wedding, the United States for Mr BG’s pop fests, and interstate for work several times. My logistical skills have been finely honed as a result!

What’s something you don’t do that you wish you did?

I wish I could sew and make my own clothes. I never really got the hang of it when I was at school, and patterns are pretty incomprehensible to me. I can hem, and mend and am a dab hand at sewing buttons, but anything beyond that is a bit scary!
How do you feel about Christmas and other such festivities, like Easter and Halloween?

I love the music of Christmas- except Bing Crosby and Kenny Rogers. It brings back memories of my time in retail, working at Myer, and hearing them both ad nausaeum over the PA. I survived seven Christmases at Myer and while it has left me with a taste for wearing black and the ability to wrap presents, I hate the frenzied shopping that goes with it. My favourite memories of Christmas pre-children are finishing up work on Christmas Eve at Myer, getting the store ready for Stocktake Sale, then adjourning to the Scottish Chiefs Tavern for a drink with my workmates. Now Christmas means spending it in the car to visit everyone in Geelong and Gippsland. It’s lovely to catch up with everyone, but the drive can be tiring.

I really enjoy Halloween, and being of Irish origin, I quite happily claim it as a derivative of Samhain and get away with it! Our neighbourhood block this year organised a trick or treat for the children, with one parent hosting a barbeque and then the children going around the block to each others houses for candy lollies. There was a lovely community feel, we were lucky with it being a warm night as well :).

Easter was always a time of religious significance when I was growing up, and giving something up for Lent was always done. I consider myself happily lapsed, but it is always a time for family. And chocolate. Another thing I discovered about Easter was that in Public Library Land (yes, there is such a thing) it is the busiest time of the year. Easter Tuesday is like Stocktake Sale time in libraries.
What thing does everyone say to you that you’re really tired of?
“It must be great to be a librarian- you get to read all day long!”
“Ballarat’s so far away…” A common excuse I hear from Melbourne peeps 🙂

What is your favourite creative thing to do and why?
Tell stories- there is a power in words. What I have been doing more though is telling stories through pictures, and taking photos and posting them on Instagram. It is becoming my preferred way to document my life.

What activity has taught you the most about yourself and what did it teach you?
If you had one superpower, what would it be and why would you want that over any others?
A very fast metabolism, so I could eat anything and not put on weight! Either that or the ability to teleport myself to another place with a click of my fingers.

What is your favourite or your most popular blog post?
My favourite posts are my travel posts. I write them on the go and they’re not only an online postcard for my family to read, but they’re a snapshot of what was going through my mind at that time. They are often my most honest and written on the fly, like one I wrote about feeling frustrated with being in Florence and it not matching my expectations. A post I wrote about a Ghost Tour to Aradale was my most popular post for 2014, even though it was written nearly 2 years ago.

What do you like about Ballarat?
Its weather- it has four distinct seasons, which have been a joy to see unfold from my window at work, and from my backyard deck. I love the light, the fresh air, and the fact you are never too far from a cafe serving excellent coffee. This is especially important when it gets cold in winter. I also like the fact Ballarat is taking pride in just more than its history- it is becoming a great place for food and drink. The range of eateries has improved over the last 10 years, since we moved here, and

What’s one truth you know now that you would like to impart on your younger self if you could?

Don’t care about what other people think of you- it’s your life, not theirs. Be responsible- for your health and your happiness.


I am not tagging anyone, but please feel free to answer these questions if you need any inspiration for blog posts. A group of people are blogging on the #blog12daysofxmas tag on Twitter, if you wanting any more holiday reading!

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 :).




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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Ghost Signs in Ballarat

I had no idea that this had a name, but I like the idea of Ghost signs. With a city as old as Ballarat, there are many buildings with previous owners who have left an imprint upon the building. It’s also pretty cool that the vestiges of businesses past have been allowed to remain on the building, as an historic marker.


This was my first ghost sign, it’s a window on the side of a building in Armstrong Street.

Camp Street Ballarat #happy365 #ballarat #2013pad #ghostsigns #offtothehairdresser

This is in Camp Street, where the building is now a nightclub.

Clyde Batteries #ballarat #ghostsigns

Police Lane, which runs between Lydiard Street and Camp Street.

Old Salvation Army chapel Albert Street Ballarat #ghostsigns #ballarat

Albert Street, near the entrance of my gym. The building is now an office for a Victorian Senator and an employment agency.

Doveton Street North,  near Creswick Road roundabout #ballarat #ghostsigns

Doveton Street North, near the roundabout at Creswick Road. The building is now an accountant’s but it was previously the Carriers Arms Hotel. The pub served Melbourne bitter and another beer, Tiger bitter, which is seen faintly underneath the Melbourne Bitter sign.

A more recent one which featured in my Month in the life posts, is this

#ghostsigns #amonthinthelife #ballarat #autumn #campst

I will also hunt them down when I am in other towns, they are another thing to look for!

Waiting for the NBN

Once upon a time,  we thought it would be a great idea if the Bookgrrl household was connected to the NBN. Ballarat is one of the places to be connected and our street already has had the NBN truck in the street ,so we knew we could get connected.

After a couple of phone calls to our ISP, we were booked for connection at the end of April. The work had to be completed by NBN Co, who came up from Melbourne to undertake the connection.

After waiting for nearly an hour for them to arrive, I had a phone call from them asking where I was. At home I replied, a tad perplexed. It turns out they had been working on a property around the corner as their GPS had not been accurate enough. Sometimes it helps to look up and check for road signs, but that’s another story.

While the street was connected, the connections hadn’t been made to each house. The technicians couldn’t do it, as it was another department. No connection.

A few days later, I did notice that contractors had been out to the house, dug up our nature strip and obviously done something to connect us to the NBN connection in the street. A subsequent phone call then had us booked in for the 11th June.

The day finally arrived and Mr BG was to wait for them in the morning. 12pm came and went, with both of us by this stage, slightly cheesed off. Due to the state of the nature strips, the council had refused access to NBN to undertake any work. The issue was that NBN had not informed the ISP nor any of their customers to this.  I rang the council and learned that the NBN had been refused access for  nearly 3 weeks- hmm…

3rd July, our fingers are crossed! 3 young men turn up, lay a cable underneath the house and connect a tiny little fibre to a hulking big box. It’s done in just over an hour.

2014-07-03 13.48.09Then they say the words- “Um there’s a statewide shortage of batteries (???), and we can’t connect you. We should get them in next week, and we’ll give you a call to make a time to install them. It’ll take about 5 minutes. It’s not our fault, they just didn’t order enough of them”.

I know it’s not they young guy’s personal fault that some desk jockey dickhead in Canberra could not be arsed to add an extra couple of zeros to an order for batteries, and in doing so has affected hundreds of customers, but to have everything connected and then to tell me at the last minute as they’re leaving is kinda cruel. I stifled a whimper and headed to the lounge room to console myself with popcorn and “Back to the Future” with the kids. It’s still as good as what it was in 1985 and Master BG loved it :).

To be continued.