Monday 9th March 2020
Since my post on our visit to the Begonia flower display and festival, fellow blogger Paol Soren (aka John) went along on the Tuesday, after all the crowds had gone. His post has more wonderful photos of the blooms, and also more detail on the beautiful statuary in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. You can find it here.
On the Monday, John went in to Melbourne to watch the much larger Moonba Festival Parade. Bill and I were happy to stay in Ballarat and see what they had to offer. We weren’t disappointed. John prefaced his post with an “Extreme Photo Alert” and I have to give a similar warning. If you have the time, grab a coffee or three and watch the slideshow; or perhaps you’ll prefer to just get a taste. Trust me, these are only a small selection of what we took on the day.
If you’ve got to this point of my post then you have had a taste of the wide variety of participants. Ballarat residents from multicultural backgrounds gave colour. Bands – jazz, brass, pipes, and so on, provided music. State and private schools from little to big kids added the “too cute” factor. Community groups and clubs came to show off their toys (cars, steam rollers et al), or to spread their message. The union march was particularly relevant, as this holiday weekend – Labour Day – is to celebrate the introduction of the eight hour working day. The fight for a fair go for workers still continues, as evidence by the Nurses and Midwives group.
The parade finished with the Chinese dragon, a symbol that represents the large number of Chinese who came to this area during the gold rush. More on that in the next post.
The Ballarat Tramway Museum is next to the Botanical Gardens, so after the parade we wandered down there for a look. When Ballarat trams stopped running in 1971, volunteers stepped in to preserve their memory, and a section of track beside Lake Wendouree was retained for their use. The oldest in the fleet is an 1887 horse-drawn.
A number of trams are under restoration in the workshop, and many more are operational and were running with free rides for the festival attendees. As well as the above tram, there are others one hundred years old. This one was built in 1915.
Between the tram shed and the Botanical Gardens is the Ballarat Fish Hatchery. I’d forgotten to mention in the previous post that we visited this after we’d finished in the gardens. The hatchery was established on the edge of Lake Wendouree in the 1870s and today is run by volunteers. They farm brown and rainbow trout, harvesting eggs by gently squeezing the female, and combining them with the ‘milt’ from the male. All that was explained in a video, which, once seen, can never be forgotten 🙂 Visitors can stroll around the various tanks and ponds, however, without the video, it would have been difficult to understand the whole process. Some of the fish are released into the lake, the majority are sold to people who are stocking dams and so on.
(Another thing I forgot from the day before was the vital ingredient in the eggplant / aubergine stuffing – pomegranate! )
Also nearby is the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial dedicated to more than 35,000 held prisoner during the Boer War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.
The nurses have a specific panel. Many readers will instantly recognise the name of Vivian Bullwinkel , the sole survivor of the massacre on Bangka Island (now part of Indonesia), when 21 army nurses and 1 civilian were herded into the ocean surf and shot from behind by Japanese forces. She and and a number of the nurses listed on the memorial went on to survive the camps of Sumatra.
We had no difficulty finding the name of Cyril George Staples – a distant relative who I met in person much later in his life. Cyril was a Sergeant in 2/5 AGH (Australian General Hospital) and was taken prisoner by the Germans in Greece, 27 April 1941, part of the contingent who stayed with the servicemen who could not be evacuated. He was held in Stalag XXA in Thorn, Poland for some years until he was repatriated on a POW exchange in 1943. He was promptly directed to rejoin his unit, now in New Guinea, first at Bootless Bay near Port Moresby, then to Morotai. The 2/5 AGH ceased to function in November 1945, and Cyril, who had studied accountancy while imprisoned, returned to a long and successful civilian life.
After heading back into town for a hearty lunch at a busy pub – so many were out and about on this holiday Monday – we then returned to the Arch of Remembrance, where John had taken us a couple days before, so that I could photograph the most recent statue, this one dedicated to the mothers, in The Garden of the Grieving Mother.
And that was a wrap for our short-stay in Ballarat. Next in the plan is to continue west, on our way to Adelaide.