One new year, one new Linux.conf.au conference. This time I was off to Ballarat for LCA 2012.
As a first time ever, I was lucky enough to get a 1st class seat for a flight to Australia (actually I'd have been happy enough with business, but that was not available). I still don't think it's worth the 'list price', but considering the quite reduced price I was able to get it for, it almost felt ok :)
I setup a little office I could work in :)
So what is there to say about Ballarat. It's a former mining town. The town itself can be visited in an hour or so (count a day to see the nearby attractions). All in all, definitely not something you'd fly from abroad to go visit, but since Linux.conf.au, my favourite conference, was there, so so was I :)
Downtown had a few old buildings that were kind of nice:
Ballarat's birds were loud but pretty :)
but the town was pretty sad. On a saturday afternoons, shops in their main 'mall' had closed by 16:00. I remember walking in front of a sushi restaurant that was supposed to close at 18:00 (on a saturday again), and they were closing early at 16:30 while giving me a 'sorry' look. In the end, there were only a very few places that were open for dinner.
Oh well, it was not a big town, I just had to know that :)
They had an old observatory with vintage telescopes, we went there one evening to do a bit of stargazing
After the conference, I went to visit what seemed fun to visit. Bird World was a grandma and grandpa 'shop'. it could have been a lot of fun, but unfortunately their free flight cage net was broken, so they had to put all their great parrots in cages. It was a bit sad since I could tell some were very friendly and would have loved to interact with me.
this one was so friendly and definitely wanted to come say hi
Next, I went to Sovereign Hill. This is actually the highlight of this town, a recreation of what used to be this old gold mining town. They have shops and blacksmiths like 150 years ago, and people dressed in the style of the day. Kids can pan for gold in the river.
Someone also showed how they make gold bars:
They had authentic machinery using steam power:
They then had a night show that was a recreation of the mini insurrection that happened there against the British taxation. Too bad they got squelched by the British and never fought back after that.
After a ncie visit to Sovereign Hill, I went to see the local Ballarat Wildlife Park. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Autralian wildlife parks (which I much prefer to zoos). It's always fun to be able to pet a few unusual animals like a wombat, and hand feed kangaroos or wallabies.
While I didn't expect too much, at the same time I've actually been pleasantly surprised by such parks in the smaller towns, and that turned out to be true there too.
Their crocodile feeding was particularly impressive, their kangaroos quite friendly, and petting wombats was cool :)
this was a very cool layed back kangaroo, nice claws too ;)
food, for me? :)
kangaroo was friends with wombat :)
food comma :)
those things peck hard when you feed them, they don't know any better :)
The crocodile feeding was quite impressive:
this guy really had balls, even by Australian standards :)
I hope he gets paid enough for this :)
While it was a small town, the places to visit still made for a fun day.