One of my son’s dreams when he grows up is to be a knight.
On a recent road trip to Victoria we decided to keep the dream alive a little bit longer and paid a visit to Kryal Castle (he’ll find out soon enough that being a knight is not really a viable 21st century career move).
Kryal Castle is one of those rare monuments to one man’s vision – a replica medieval castle built in the undulating hills just outside of Ballarat.
The look on our son’s face as we drove up was worth the 12 hour trek down the coast alone.
He was nearly delirious with excitement.
From the dragon and castle-themed playground to the jousting tournament between the good-hearted Red Knight and the evil Black Knight, he was in awe.
The how-to be-a-knight workshop turned out to be a young man in a slightly dubious Game of Throne inspired outfit handing out foam swords to boys and girls and encouraging them to beat each other up.
There were tears...but I think everyone had a good time pretending to be valiant (or evil) knights of the realm.
Our young daughter loved getting lost in the stone maze. She took off, delighting in leaving two frantic parents in her wake.
The crowd favourite of the day was the jousting tournament to save the kingdom – which saw the Red Knight and the Black Knight engage in a series of duels, culminating in a nail-biting jousting tournament on horseback.
Ultimately the Red knight, who was on the side of good, won and the comely queen was freed from her spell and everyone, except the Black Knight, lived happily ever after.
The kids were able to get their photo taken with the knight of their choice.
Our son chose the red knight (parental sighs of relief).
Our daughter chose the Black Knight.
Raised eyebrows and looks of concern were swapped as we glanced at his skull helmet and black leather getup.
Despite our youngest child’s dubious choice in knights, we enjoyed the day out.
It was a freezing cold day with the occasional period of sleet so it actually did feel as though we were stuck in a medieval village.
It was quite friendly on the wallet with a family pass for $100 and we managed to avoid the over-priced souvenir stands on the way out.
The only downside was the fact that the castle, opened in 1974, is looking a bit tired in some places.
But through the eyes of a child, this anochronistic, incongruous castle set in the middle of pretty much nowhere is pretty darn magical.