Here comes Lady Eleanor, wielding her forceful lance full of vigour and power, charging against the Lord of another wild land. The crowd roared and cheered, stomping their feet to the tempo of the galloping horses across the tournament arena, whilst witnessing the thrilling actions of knights in shiny armours glittered beneath the glaring sunlight. At the other end of the town, a wizard silently stirred and mumbled; Spells uttered, puffing green smoke rose, a secret potion is conjured.
Familiar as these might sound, these are not scenes from the sensational, long-gone series of Game of Thrones. Our family went to Kryal Castle during the recent summer break with our two kiddos to experience the excitement of jousting knights and medieval princesses. The experience is surreal, hilarious, fun-filled and we can’t wait for another visit back to this amazing and probably, often under-valued holiday spot. Based on our conversations with local and foreign friends, not many have heard of this one and only "castle" in Australia; but those who had, remember it fondly as a childhood dreamland.
The entrance was a classic castle facade with cobblestoned steps leading to the elevated doorway, where a drawbridge spanned over a moat and overlooked two red and blue Kryal banners and flags. The mood of medieval dream started from here.
Next up was the dark and a little-scary dragon’s labyrinth, where guests went through narrow passages in search of the mystical white majestic beast, formidably guarding the castle’s treasure trove. Our younger kids preferred the more child-friendly option of Dragon’s Eggs Garden, where we found cute little green baby dragons popped out from their little hatched eggshells, greeting the young ones with adorable grins.
We tried our luck to pull the sword out from the “legendary” stone (alas there wasn’t anyone we met so far who was meant to be the destined King). Our baby girl got extremely excited listening to the cockadoo calls of the roosters from the animal nursery. Further up, it was the Knights Tower and Throne Room where we sheepishly posed like true king and queen sitting on the bright red seats of golden rims. The huge round table reminded me of those warring-plans devised by the Lannister and all the clan’s hidden, unspeakable scandals.
A series of summer program lined up throughout the day, ensuring all guests were truly entertained within the castle compound. A funny Rapunzel tale was retold in front of the replica of David’s statue. The acting was first-class comedy. Kids and adults laughed and gasped and screamed watching the damsel in tower outsmarted an evil witch and a vain prince. The kids then gathered around at the Wizard Workroom to learn some lessons of “potion-making” from a hilarious bearded wizard, who cooked-up a mixture using goblin’s wee, Phoenix ashes, and I’m not too sure what else.
A Queenly Croquet Match took place beside the Bravehearts Playground where Alice, the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit did their best to please the outrageous Queen of Heart in her silly game with flamingo sticks. Knights and warhorses competed in challenge that tested out the skills of sword, lance and spear; this was followed by another funny “boo-ing” episode against the notoriously sly sheriff in a live play involving the world-famous Robin Hood. Next up was a “dragon” show, and the performances line-up ended with a 7pm highlight of the day - the Royal Joust.
We watched all the performances as our boy didn’t want to miss a single one. In between the “breaks”, we watched a few junior knights trained-up their skills of knighthood with sword and shield. There were also axe-throwing for the older kids, and archery-art training with real bow and arrow for the adults.
We admired a good old church organ in the quiet chapel, bought some icy poles at the Tooth Fairy Lolly shop, purchased two $2 each balloon swords from the village traders, did a mini family's maze race, watched a blacksmith in-action, and tried out some authentic wood-fired pizzas from the Ale House (with reasonable prices).
There was also a Torture Dungeon and Museum that we purposely missed as I’m not a fan of anything involving infliction of pain (I wish the “torture” part was being presented as a more serious historical subject minus the "entertaining" photograph poses. From online review, the dungeon is creepy and is suitable for age 13 and above). We also didn’t do the Royal Photographs, but we had a sneak peek of some of the photograph samples in display which seem kind of cool.
Overall, this is a great trip and we know we will return again. Kryal Castle is highly recommended for adults and kids of all ages as there is always something special and dear-to-the-heart for each medieval castle lover. We are hoping for an overnight stay in the castle-inspired room next round, although the accommodation booking does run out pretty quickly notoriously.
Location: 121 Forbes Rd, Leigh Creek VIC 3352 (8km east of Ballarat, and around 1 hour 15 minutes drive from Melbourne City)