Monday, 14 March 2016


We are staying in Ballarat for four nights on our way to the Grampians Texture week. Our stay has coincided with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in out-of-home care. Cardinal George Pell was giving evidence from Rome throughout our stay in regard to the abuse in the Ballarat area, and the Town Hall was set up for special viewing of the evidence. Media coverage was happening and police attendence was high at the town hall where screening of everyone was completed. All the schools, churches and institutions linked to the Catholic Church in Bathurst were decorated with ribbons on the fencing to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of child abuse in a strong yet peaceful protest to what has taken place in this area. The girls and I all tied our own ribbons to the fence, each representing different personal tributes to what has taken place.

Whilst in Ballarat we visited two amazing craft shops one Gail's Patchwork Emporium in Sebastopol, the suburb in which we are staying, the second Mill Rose Quilting Store in Ballan a neighbouring suburb and many purchases were made by us all.

The Town Hall of Ballarat

Queen Victoria Statue in Sturt Street

The girls waiting for Ruth who is parking the car, before we go shopping.

On two separate days we went to the Lake Wendouree to enjoy our lunch on the shores of the lake in Pipers Cafe one of Western Victoria's leading restaurants.

Directly across from the cafe is the Ballarat Botonical Gardens.

The girls at Pipers Cafe

Whilst in Ballarat we are staying at the WorldMark Resort. The history of the building really gave power to the mood of what is happening in Ballarat with the Royal Commission.

The history of the Resort starts when a lucky Scottish miner, James Leckie, built an ostentatious bluestone mansion, Blythewood Grange, in 1878. The fruits of his fortune, made from local goldfields, are now the reception area of the resort, along with a few guest rooms and sitting room.

Outside, even below the surface of the 22.25 hectares of beautiful manicured lawns and gardens, are the remnants of prosperity. Strolling around the tranquil willow-fringed lake with lawns carpeted with delicate white flowers, it's hard to imagine that nearby, 125 metres below ground, is one of the shafts from Ballarat's busiest and most prestigious goldmine, Prince of Wales.

Leckie was the "top manager" of Prince of Wales. So successful was the mine more than 250,000 kilograms of gold was extracted.

Today, the grey, heritage-listed Blythewood Grange is complemented by heritage-listed red-brick Edwardian buildings.

A religious order, the Sisters of Nazareth, operated a convent and girls' home from Nazareth House. After the Leckie family (Leckie had 11 children) left Blythewood Grange, the Bishop of Ballarat lobbied the sisters to acquire the property to build a boys' home and working farm. Successful, the bishop laid a foundation stone in 1911. Classrooms, dormitories and recreational grounds were envisaged and St Joseph's Home had its grand opening in 1913.

Ninety boys moved in, as well as five nuns, who used the original mansion as a convent. A chapel was built, which became the local church, and the on-site kindergarten school became the local kindergarten, too.

For 70 years, St Joseph's cared for children - 2500 of them. In 2003, a global hotel consortium bought the site and faithfully redeveloped it. Whilst walking along the quiet corridors, you can imagine children running up and down, flitting between classrooms and dormitories. Lime-green tiles along corridor walls cheerily feature blooming red roses; outside in the garden, 400 real rose bushes bloom.

Blythewood Grange

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