Just about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne is Ballarat, a city known for its historical and cultural significance. With an area of 740 square kilometres and a population numbering of about 94,000 people, Ballarat is the largest inland centre and the third most populous city in Victoria.
The name Ballarat originally meant camp site or “resting place.” It was derived from the aboriginal words “balla” meaning reclining on the elbow, and “arat” meaning place. The credit for the name is given to a Scottish squatter Archibald Yuille when he established his first sheep settlement in 1837.
Ballarat played a significant role in Victoria’s gold boom in the 1850s after gold was discovered in Poverty Point, a small suburb located in the south eastern portion of the city. The gold rush sparked an influx which effectively tripled the then sheep station’s population and transformed it to a major settlement. The gold rush also earned the city the name “The Golden City” during this era.
In the early 20th century, when the gold supply started declining, the economy shifted towards the support of the lead mining industry, and agriculture. Since then, Ballarat’s modern economy is now dominated by several service industries like tourism, public services, health care, and social assistance. Manufacturing, retail, and construction still make up a significant segment of the local economy.
Ballarat summers normally exceed 30.0 oC while the average temperatures during the winter show temperatures reaching as low as 3.2 oC
What to Do
With Ballarat’s deep roots in Australian history, it only follows that the city would feature numerous historical tourist attractions detailing how life was during the Ballarat Gold Rush. The following are the more prominent landmarks and attraction you can find in Ballarat.
Located on the site of one of the city’s major gold diggings, Sovereign Hill is an open air museum showing how the prospectors lived during the first 10 years of the gold rush. The vast complex is comprised of over 60 historically accurate buildings and manned by costumed personnel who are always willing to answer questions and pose for pictures.
The recommended length of stay is at least 2 days as the whole experience can prove to be entirely immersive. Visitors planning on a trip to Sovereign Hill are recommended to make arrangements with nearby ballarat accommodation.
Art Gallery Ballarat
Established in 1884, this gallery is regarded as the oldest and largest regional art gallery in all of Australia.
The museum features local Ballarat art on the ground floor while the upper level houses paintings from 1850 onwards.
While there is a small international collection, Australian art gets the emphasis. The gallery displays the original Eureka Flag which was used in the Eureka Rebellion at Ballarat in 1854.
Lake Wendouree is a man-made lake located in the Lake Wendouree suburb in Ballarat. Take the family out for pleasant stroll or for a pleasant picnic as the locale makes for a relaxing visit. Various festivals and sporting events are held year round here so there will always be a reason to visit apart from the many outdoor activities you can do there.
These are only some of the reasons why Ballarat remains a popular destination for rest and relaxation in Victoria. Apart from those already mentioned, Ballarat also features some of the best fine dining, wines, theatres, and shopping in the region.
Ballarat – At a Glance
- Where? – Approximately 105 kilometres west-north-west of Melbourne
- Population – 94,000 people.
- Transport – Visitors can choose to take the 1 and a half hour drive to Ballarat or they can also take the V/Line train. Find out more about Ballarat travel information.
The cheapest accommodation can be found using our Best Hotel Deals page. Simply click here to check out the best accommodation prices in Ballarat.
Ballarat is a town of many different virtues, traditions and sights. It's a stone's throw from Melbourne and is a must for people who want to see parts of Victoria they may not have seen before.
- Things to do
- Places to see
- Kid friendly