Inga’s Travelogue: Yeah, Ballarat again…

I’ve treated myself to some more Ballarat adventures. I don’t know what it is about that bloody town, but there’s definitely a little (vodka-drenched) piece of my soul there.

The Ballarat Cup was the premise of this trip. Nikki and I cruised up there on Saturday, had a little poke around the Mill Markets, then checked ourselves in to Reid’s Guest House. I’d found Reid’s on the internet: “providing respectable low-cost accommodation since 1886.” Ceiling murals! Leadlight windows! Heritage listed! Wheeee!

It turned out to be a mildewed fire trap filled with meth addicts. In addition to being a backpacker hostel, it also serves as the local ‘emergency accommodation’ for at risk individuals. It’s a monolithic timber warren of stained carpet, creaky steps and desperation. It smells of fungus, crack-pipes and cheap air freshener.

And I loved it. I adored the fact that 100 years ago, tipsy tight-arsed revellers just like me were floating down the halls and stairwells after an evening at one of Ballarat’s fine drinking establishments. I loved the fact that my ancestors (and perhaps even an itty-bitty GOF) would have strolled past its lead lighted foyer doors.

Welcome, crackheads

Just like the Vatican, only better.

Ceiling murals

Our depressing, grey room on the third storey featured an inspiring view of a brick wall and 4 foot wide alleyway. Around 9pm on Sunday night, we heard voices down below. Nikki squeezed as much of her top half as she could manage through the window pane, then reported that “there’s like 50 people down there! It’s a tour group or something!” A few taps on our smart phones, and we found out the cellar at Reid’s is one stop on the Ballarat Ghost Tour circuit. It was disappointing that we didn’t realise sooner, so we could have put sheets over our heads and moaned eerily down at them. Although I’m sure the sudden appearance of Nikki’s bosom 25 feet overhead was equally thrilling.

We kicked off the weekend with a good ol’ fashioned pub crawl. We spent a considerable amount of time at our old favourite Bluestone 101, where we were the only patrons for a good hour and half. Three or four different venues later, we strutted into a cosy little place in a side street and ordered vodkas. After a couple of minutes, we noticed that everyone in the bar seemed to know everyone else. People were giving us sideways glances. There were banners and balloons festooning the walls proclaiming HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY DYLAN. Uh oh. We sidled up to the friendliest looking bar tender and learnt that we were, in fact, crashing somebody’s birthday function.  Luckily, ‘Dylan’ turned out to be ostentatiously homosexual, and more than thrilled to receive birthday wishes from random inebriated women. Even so, we drained our drinks and bolted the hell out of there.

An indefinite number of hours and vodkas later, we wove our way back to the room at Reid’s. Nikki started texting her boyfriend, so I took the opportunity to explore the labyrinth of halls. Most of the hallway doors are fitted with a little infra-red security lock – you wave your key over the sensor, then there’s a beep and a click and you can push the door open. I beep-clicked my way through a couple of dimly lit storeys, finding laundries and linen closets and row after row of locked doors. Eventually I pushed through a slightly ajar door thinking to find yet another storage area, and nearly fell on top of some poor bloke asleep in his bed. In my hazy state I convinced myself he would wake up in a heroin-fueled rage and start chasing me, so I piss-bolted back through the maze of corridors, frenziedly beep-clicking like I was in Mission Impossible. The creaking floorboards and doors screaming on their hinges as they slammed shut behind me added to the terrifying illusion that I was being pursued, until I exploded back into our room.  I turned off the lights, plunging a startled Nikki into darkness, before explaining in a stage whisper that a guy was coming to kill us. Nikki took the news remarkably well, and declared that we would go and find this man before he found us. We marched boldly back out into the hallway, and wandered back and forth until we heard voices coming from behind a locked emergency exit. We decided we’d stumbled across the resident ghosts, and promptly skittered back to our room, locked the door and braced it with a chair.

Argh, ghosts! Murderers!

Sadly, the evening’s adventures left us in no fit state for the races the following day. We threw on our racing outfits regardless and blearily teetered around town looking for the bus to the Turf Club. We managed a listless two hours at the race track before we realised we were about to keel over face first into the grass and choke on our own misery, so we accepted defeat and caught a taxi home.

But just so the day wasn’t a total waste, I made Nikki take some photos of the local architecture on her iPhone 4S:

Three levels of dancing and mega-hot security guards

Bluestone 101

Mmm, meat.

Ballarat Steakhouse

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10 thoughts on “Inga’s Travelogue: Yeah, Ballarat again…

  1. I would SO love to go with you to Ballarat! I can stumble around in a vodka induced happy cloud with the best of them. Just keep me away from tequilla! (crap, I can’t spell tequilla….good thing I can’t drink it either!)

    What a fun place to stay! Bahaha about ghosts and Nikki’s bosoms…..

    • Oh god, tequila…for some reason my drunk brain forgets that tequila shots are alcoholic. I get to a point at about 1am where I’m like “uh oh, I’m too drunk…I’d better only have tekshila.”

      And you’re MORE than welcome to come on a Ballarat adventure with me! Of course you’d also be obliged to head north and hang with the GOFs for a bit. 🙂

  2. How come none of this was included on the itinerary when you took me to Ballarat!!!! Eh???? I never had the opportunity to sidle up to any Dylans and wish ’em Happy Birthday. Sheesh! Elder neglect! 🙂

    • Oh don’t you worry GOF, the next time you come to visit I’ll be sure to take you out to every pub in Ballarat! Actually we needn’t wait until you come down, the next time I visit YOU we’ll have a nice daddy-daughter bonding session over some beer at the TAB! We can place bets on every race, and you won’t have to worry about driving because I’ll be much more relaxed driving your truck after a few beers – I’m sure if I just pretend it’s my car we’ll be fine. It’s ok to rev a turbo-diesel to 6500 rpm, right? Oh my, we’re going to have so much fun! I’m glad you suggested it!

      • OK, I’m beginning to think it might not be the world’s best idea.

        Can’t help thinking that if a group of 50 people woke me up from my beauty sleep at the ungodly hour of 9pm I’d be sorely tempted to heave something more than bosoms out of the window. 🙂

  3. Holy crap, this reads like a good ghost story! How do I know this the REAL Inga writing this post, hmm? I seem to remember some misadventures in abandoned buildings, we have a few euphemistically named “State Schools” which are actually old insane asylums, regularly broken into by ghost hunters. Ballrat looks like a fun place to explore, plus they do not make old ceiling murals and doors like that any more. Great photos.

    • Ooh, I love a good insane asylum. The town I lived in when I first moved to Melbourne has a special needs school up on a hill that used to be an asylum – it had a giant boiler room with a chimney, and according to the stories more than a couple of troublesome patients wound up being cooked. Ballarat certainly is an awesome place to explore, and I hope to have another exploratory expedition over Christmas. Come with? 😀

      • I would like that more than you can imagine, Inga. Oh, the trouble we could stir up……keep me in mind for this year and maybe you would still consider that tough muddier run? (or other mischief, I may not have the meddle for a second run, lol)

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