It’s not every day you get to take a step back in time to the medieval age, complete with snapping dragons, shining knights in armour and thunderous jousting to the roars of an arena, but that’s exactly what you can do at Kryal Castle.
Australia’s only medieval adventure park, Kryal Castle was just the ticket to start off our summer of family adventures, particularly when I was able to get discounted tickets online (we got 2-for-1 from Groupon). So, with visions of lords and ladies clear in our minds, we packed our valiant steed (a.k.a. Ford Focus) and started the journey to Ballarat and castle life.
Kryal Castle pops up on the side of the road in an entirely unexpected way, which is really just the beginning of the magic of this little spot. The battlements rise quite suddenly from the Australian landscape, and as you drive up the cobblestone path there’s a sense of wonder already awakened within. Over the moat and through the castle doors, and an entirely new world awaits.
Where to start with everything on offer at Kryal Castle? There’s an ‘ancient’ cemetery with hilarious tombstones and a dizzying maze that you’ll lose yourself in. You can soak up the heady aromas of the Wizard’s workroom, or visit the Throne Room and Knights Tower to learn about medieval weaponry. There’s a full scale model of Kryal Castle, which tells the fascinating story of how it came to be, as well as lots of exciting extras like a Sword in the Stone, Torture Museum and Dungeon (recommended 12+), archery range, chapel, herb garden, stables and animal nursery. And of course lets not forget the Tournament Arena, where spectators can watch knights battle it out with sword, spear and lance, on horseback, including a full joust, complete with shattering lances and the thundering hoofbeats of enormous draft horses.
If that’s not an exciting day out, I really don’t know what you do with your time!
Amidst all of this are the staff. Entirely involved and dressed to the nines in their medieval finery, they complete the picture of the themed park with their on point greetings (who doesn’t want to be called a lord or lady all day long?!) and dedication to the experience of visitors at every turn.
We loved Kryal Castle, and will almost certainly come back again in the future if the opportunity presents itself. There was almost no difficultly in spending a few solid hours exploring all the little details of the park, and we really enjoyed learning so much about the medieval period and seeing it brought to life in such a real way. There were times when I totally forgot that I was standing just a few kilometres outside of Ballarat. I could have very well been at a medieval experience in the U.K. and that is really a level of dedication worth celebrating. Not to mention the castle and grounds are really lovely, and I should know, having visited Carisbrooke, Windsor and Bodiam.
In fact in the entire experience there were only two things I can pull up as cons, or at least things to be prepared about. The first is the total lack of shade in the tournament arena, a real challenge on a sunny day like the one we visited on, which made for hot viewing of the Skill at Arms and the Joust, and left us a little red-faced. The second is the difficulty in navigating the area with a pram. All of the pathways are cobbles, and while it’s not impossible to get about, it’s not easy either with some areas that are stairs only, and required lifting to get the pram to come along for the ride.
Otherwise, a fantastically fun and marvellously medieval experience. Kryal Castle what a show!
A Few Kryal Castle Tips
- Visiting hours vary through the year, but Kryal Castle is generally open on weekends, public holidays (except Christmas and Australia Day) and Victorian School Holidays.
- You can buy entry tickets online (look out for bargains!) or in person. The main shows are included in that fee, with some optional additional activities being charged nominally in addition (i.e. archery, potion making, pony rides etc all $5).
- There is a fantastic playground inside Kryal Castle, designed for aged 4 up, although Oscar did have some fun in one of the dragon tunnels. There are picnic tables here if you want to eat your lunch (bringing a picnic is totally fine!) there.
- You can also buy food from official Kryal Castle venues, including the Ale House. Prices are as expected for a theme park setting.
- For more information you can check out Kryal Castle on Facebook.