Our Gold Rush Moment – Ballarat

This week we went to Ballarat after long time and we Totally loved this beautiful town. Its about an hour drive from Melbourne and it is a very pleasant drive. As we are in the middle of Australian winter we also experienced snow in Gordon and around Kryal Castle area. If you are in Melbourne for few days, we totally recommend Ballarat visit and you won’t be disappointed. Ballarat has enjoyed a rich and prosperous heritage thanks to the Gold Rush which began in 1851. In 1838 a squatter, William Yuille, camped on the shores of Black Swamp, now known as Lake Wendouree. Ballarat was predominantly a pastoral district until gold was discovered.

In 1851 John Dunlop and James Regan discovered gold at Poverty Point. By the following year there were around 20,000 miners on the Ballarat Goldfields. Due to this population explosion, Ballarat was proclaimed a town in 1852. By 1855, Ballarat was a municipality, a borough by 1863 and a city in 1870.

History comes to life in Sovereign Hill, a recreated gold township of the 1850s with regular demonstrations, street theatre performances, gold panning, mine tours and shopping experiences of the era. The Eureka Centre is situated close to the site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade Rebellion where miners and officials engaged in a bloody battle over miner’s rights.

Notable buildings include Ballarat’s Town Hall (built between 1870 and 1872), Her Majesty’s Theatre (1875) and Craig’s Hotel which was built in several stages between 1853 and 1891. Other cultural attractions include The Art Gallery, Gold Museum, the medieval Kryal castle and the Aviation Museum.

The Ballarat Bird World and Wildlife Park is a great attraction for families, as is the Ballarat show, a three day event held at the show-grounds.

Today Ballarat is a major industrial city with well known companies such as Mars Confectionery, McCains Foods, Bendix Mintex, Laminex Industries, Rivers and Selkirk Bricks all established in Ballarat. Other major sectors of the economy include Health, Education, Information Technology and Tourism. Modern Ballarat is also known for its study and innovation of alternative energy sources. You will see wind turbines spotting the landscape in the shadow of two extinct volcanoes, but the city also uses geothermal energy and solar power, and it experiments with biomass energy production to provide power to its urban population of over 93,000.

Attractions & climate

As I mentioned before Ballarat is well renowned for its rich gold heritage and was home to the richest goldfield in the world. Long after the gold has run out, the city retains much of its heritage. 

Sovereign Hill actively preserves Australia’s rich, living history and heritage, providing visitors with an accurate and thoroughly researched experience of the goldrush era. You will step back in time – experiencing the daily lives of Australia’s gold miners, re-living the experiences of the Gold Rush and discovering the lively activities that made up life on the goldfields. No matter how old or young, you will always find something that will enchant and excite, creating memories to treasure for years to come.

An important asset to Ballarat is Lake Wendouree, a man-made lake covering 200 hectares, located a couple of kilometres west of the town centre. The lake’s reed beds and islands are an important oasis for bird life. The Botanical Gardens are also popular for tourists and locals alike, situated near the western side of the lake and featuring a floral conservatory, fernery, lawns and an avenue of bronze busts of all the Australian prime ministers. A vintage electric tramway operates along Wendouree Parade between the Botanical Gardens and lake foreshore.

Other notable attractions include Creswick National Park, Skipton Rail Trail ( 55 kilometre trail which goes through native grasslands), Enfield State park and the Great Dividing Range.

The Ballarat region has a temperate climate of cool to mild temperatures with four distinct seasons.

  • Sovereign Hill is open daily 10am until 5pm (5.30pm during Daylight Savings)
  • Gold Museum is open from 9.30am – 5.20pm (6.00pm during Daylight Savings) 
  • Ballarat Fine Art Gallery open daily 9am until 5pm
  • Gold Museum open daily 9.30am until 5.20pm
  • Ballarat Wildlife Park open daily from 9am – 5.30pm
  • Kryal Castle open daily from 10am – 5pm (last admission 4pm)

Also don’t forget to do following walks in the main CBD area.

  • Ballarat Heritage Streetscape Walk
  • Ballarat Statues Walk open-air gallery of priceless sculptures and monuments, honouring heroes and icons, royalty, poets and goldfields pioneers. 

Kids TOTALLY loved their time in Ballarat and we will definitely be back in Sumer to experience more of this beautiful city which is very close proximity to our home. 

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