Words by Chris Q.
The weekend of the 30th of April and 1st of May so the return of the twice annual Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally from the affects of the pandemic. A smaller than ideal attendance didn’t dampen spirits however, Both Matt and I were joined by Chris G from the events team, and Dot and Shane and guests on the Sunday for the day trip.
Saturday we arrived at our accomodation in the mid afternoon, and spent the time taking in the crisp Ballarat atmosphere, before heading out to Craigs Royal Hotel for dinner. Located on historic Lydiard Street in the heart of Ballarat, Craig’s Royal Hotel is the legendary Australian gold-rush era grand hotel. Built in 1862 on the site of Bath’s Hotel, Ballarat’s first officially licensed pub, Craig’s has been a goldfield icon since Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, slept in its ornately decorated rooms in 1867 and Dame Nellie Melba famously sang from its balcony in 1908. Host to poets, princes and prime ministers over its 160 year history, the hotel is a true icon of the Victorian period.
Sunday we made the 40 minute or so drive out to Lake Goldsmith, which is about halfway between Beaufort and Skipton just slightly west of Ballarat. The Steam Rally site is set on some 70 acres of prime farmland and contains rows and rows of sheds with all kinds of assorted collections, from steam engines and industrial machinery, to kerosene lamps and other vintage homewares.
There was a small display of vintage cars, trucks but mostly tractors. Also of interest was a 90ton Steam Face Shovel that was used at the Geelong Cementworks to remove limestone from the quarry for cement making.
A small cottage known as ‘Hogans Cottage’ was an eye opener to home life well before modern conveniences. They did also have a Devonshire Tea which was worth the visit alone.
An early style sawmill was in operation, and demonstrated the labour and manning required to run such a task, I suspect an industry that has been taken over largely by automation today.
A good weekend was had by all.