"Ballarat in the Central Victorian goldfields" Top 5 Page for this destination Ballarat by Kate-Me

Ballarat Travel Guide: 210 reviews and 500 photos

Ballarat (population 87,000) is located 110 kms north west of Melbourne, 1 1/2 hours from Melbourne by car, and when the fast train service is complete in 2006, only 1 hour by train (instead of the current 1 h 30 mins)

**See also my "Lake Wendouree" pages for much more on Ballarat (which wouldn't fit in these pages, though the lake is now completely dry for the first time in 100 years)

Ballarat was the site of the richest alluvial gold mine in the world and founded on that basis in around 1851, as many towns in the region.
Many Victorian towns exploded into life due to the gold rush and afterwards faded away to become quite small again, however Ballarat remained strong and became a city.
It has managed to preserve much of its early grand Victorian architecture and charm and is said by experts to be one of the best (if not THE best) remaining examples of the period in Australia today.
Ballarat is also undoubtedly one of the best tourist spots in the state, namely for the presence of Australia's award winning No 1 Man-Made tourist attraction, the recreated 1850's living, breathing Museum gold town of Sovereign Hill and its attached Gold Museum.

Here is a map of Ballarat and the surrounding region.

Sovereign Hill continued....

The Sovereign Hill township is built on 60 acres (25 hectares) of original gold mining land and is a faithful recreation of the 1850's-60's time period. There are over 60 buildings throughout the township, including Blacksmith, Milliners, Confectionery store, Victoria Theatre, Hope Bakery, United States Hotel (saloon), Potters, Furniture Makers, a Wheelwright, Tinsmith in the main street, with cottages, a church, gold diggings, mining tents and more to see in the side streets.
One of the special highlights for me is the recent Red Hill mine show, with amazing sound and light holographic visuals. Commentary comes from a virtual 'miner' standing right in front of you in the mine.

All shopkeepers and roving performers/actors in the township are dressed in traditional 1850's costume. There is not a modern trapping in sight. Characterisation and role playing are maintained to the extent that even colonial accents, manners and customs are often reproduced to add to the authenticity.
Special activities take place in the streets each day, (eg. musket firing demonstrations and colonial musical entertainment by township performers). with even more varied and numerous creative activities during school holidays.
Uniformed troopers 'patrol' the gravel streets, you can pan for gold in the creek, watch tradesmen working at 1850's trades and so much more.

Other Attractions

Ballarat is renowned for its many parks, gardens, and statues (many to be found along the long central median strip of Sturt Street, and also in the Botanical Gardens). Other outdoor works of art can be found in Camp Street and by the Civic Hall in Armstrong Street North

Lake Wendouree (with its 6 km circumference) is a popular family recreational spot, and also very popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. It did have one of the finest rowing courses in Australia (but during the current drought, as of December 2006, the lake has now been all but completely dry for almost 2 months, and most of the aquatic bird life has moved away, especially our well known black swans)

Lake Wendouree was the site for the rowing and canoeing events of the Olympic Games in 1956.

Each March, the famous Begonia Festival (which first began in 1953) runs for 5 days and is held in the beautiful adjacent Botanical Gardens. Ballarat is world famous for its Begonia flowers.

See my "Must See's" list for more Ballarat attractions. There's just so much extra to see here apart from Sovereign Hill, which people can tend to miss, as they run out of time. Hopefully with forward knowledge, they can spare the extra time needed to have an even better and varied experience in this great city I'm proud to call mine.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sovereign Hill: Number 1 attraction for visitors, but so much more to see as well
  • Cons:Our weather in winter tends to suffer from an image problem -but it's not that cold!
  • In a nutshell:A great place to visit and good lifestyle to live
  • Last visit to Ballarat: Feb 2005
  • Intro Updated Dec 18, 2006
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Reviews (77)

Comments (48)

  • thegreynomad's Profile Photo
    Apr 21, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    I haven't been to Sovereign Hill for a long time, will have to return and see some of the new things you mentioned.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2009 at 7:57 PM

    Absolutely wonderful hometown you have. Bravo for putting so many wonderful places of your beautiful country on the VT map. We have in California a Ballarat ghost town that was part of the Death Valley. Thanks for the wonderful tour, I will be back.

  • joiwatani's Profile Photo
    Nov 28, 2008 at 1:58 PM

    Great job on your Ballarat pages! Very detailed tips! I gave you good ratings! I will come back later and see your pages!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2008 at 4:39 AM

    Have been to sovereign hill a couple of times, enjoyed it both times, looks like we will have to go back, by your reviews, they are adding more & more.

  • Toshioohsako's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2008 at 11:58 PM

    Your HP popped up from VTHP to find that where Ballarat is in Aust. You have interesting places. I have a friend in Mellbourn which seems not far. Thanks for telling me about this city.

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2007 at 3:30 AM

    Thank you for the fantastic tips. Sounds like a town we would love well. Hope your birthday finds you on another great adventure.

  • Aug 31, 2007 at 3:29 PM

    THAI is good but very spicy and tasty.I recommed to have Chinese food.

  • MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2007 at 7:43 AM

    Hi Kathryn, Sovereign Hill was great fun; the tour through the mines was excellent. I`m glad we made the trip to Ballarat - one of our best experiences in Australia. Great page - Best regards, Michael

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2007 at 9:47 PM

    Excellent page, unfortunately I did not see Ballarat when I was in Australia ;-)

  • ChristinaNest's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2006 at 11:42 PM

    Great page! I'd love to see the historic buidings and wildlife&visit Sovereign Hill and its postoffice! Happy birthday! Best wishes from Sofia, Bulgaria

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