Ballarat is Victoria’s Goldrush era town, situated 116km north west of Melbourne CBD. Compared to other Victorian Goldrush era towns, Ballarat is still a charming vibrant township with rich architecture, thanks to its sustained gold yields which lasted many decades.
Ballarat city with its historic buildings and statues, itself is a big crowd puller. Apart from that, major attractions include Sovereign Hill, The Gold Museum, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Ballarat Tramway Museum, Eureka Centre and Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum.
Sovereign Hill is an outdoor living museum which recreates the conditions of Ballarat’s early Goldfields. Set across 64acres of hillside, Sovereign Hill represents the Gold rush era of 1850’s and succeeded in recreating the crafts and trades existed on those days with live demonstration given at blacksmith’s forge, the candle works, the wheelwright’s plant, the coach builder’s and the confectionery factory.
For details visit https://tomelbourne.com.au/sovereign-hill/
The ticket purchased for Sovereign Hill also includes free entry to the Gold Museum
Ballarat Gold Museum
Ballarat Gold museum, situated opposite to Sovereign Hill, regales the story of Ballarat’s gold rush with its impressive collection of gold nuggets, alluvial deposits, priceless gold artefacts and gold coins. Opened in 1978, the museum also features, Harris-Pearce Family Collection which includes photographs, albums and costume accessories which once belonged to the family. Among other collections like war museum collections, miners’ rights collections and Ballarat historical museum collections, It also has a small collection of artefacts and memorabilia relating to 1854 Eureka Stockade uprising. Large size nuggets on display are the major attraction of the museum.
Lake Wendouree situated in Ballarat covers an area of 238 hectares and has a circumference of 6km. The parkland around the lake spans over 18hectares in total. When the European settlers arrived, Lake Wendouree was a shallow reedy swamp with plenty of wildlife. For thousands of years it was the camping place of nomadic Wadawurrung people from the Kulin nation. Over the years, the swamp was gradually turned into a Lake, English Parkland and an aquatic recreational facility.
Details at: https://tomelbourne.com.au/lake-wendouree/
Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Developed in 1858, Ballarat Botanical Gardens are one of Victoria’s most significant regional botanic gardens, retaining a gardenesque style characterised by mature trees, bedding plants, statuary and historic and contemporary architecture. This 40-hectare gardens are located on the western side of Lake Wendouree.
The gardens feature a collection of 12 statues donated by Thomas Stoddart, a Statuary Pavilion, returned ex-prisoner of war memorial, a conservatory and the Prime Ministers avenue.
Ballarat Tramway Museum
Tramway Museum was formed to keep the Tramway experience of riding in one of the 100-year-old trams through the Botanical Gardens alongside Lake Wendouree. At the depot the story of Ballarat’s Trams is told through photographs and memorabilia. The Museum is normally open on Tuesdays and on many Wednesdays.
Art Gallery of Ballarat
This is one of the oldest purpose-built Art Galleries in Australia. Gallery has a stunning collection of Australian paintings, sculpture and ceramics and contemporary artwork. The Gallery shop has works by Australian artists and crafts people as well as gifts, souvenirs and toys.
Address: 40 Lydiard St Nth, Ballarat
Admission is free.
Opening Hours: daily, 10am – 5pm (Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
Located at the historic site of 1854 Eureka Stockade rebellion, Eureka Centre is the best place to learn more about the rebellion. The centre is also home to the Eureka Flag, one of the most revered cultural artefacts of Australia. The centre is surrounded by scenic Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens.
Address: 102 Stawell Street South Eureka, 3350 Australia
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am to 5pm / Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Ballarat Wildlife Park
This is a family owned wildlife park designed in such a way to allow visitors to interact with some of the animals. Visitors can hand feed free roaming kangaroos.
Address: 250 Fussell Streets, Ballarat East, 3350
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday – 9:00am to 5:00pm. Closed Christmas Day
Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum
This observatory was opened to public in 1886 and is considered as the first municipal observatory in Australia.
Address: 439 Cobden St, Mt Pleasant, VIC 3350
Daytime: Open from 5pm during the school holidays Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, bookings can be taken for a group of 10 or more on other days and times. The Observatory will be closed during the daytime when the weather forecast predicts temperatures over 35 degrees. Closed from 6pm if no evening bookings.
Kryal Castle is a legendary land of adventure with knights, dragons, wizards, kings, queens, princes, fairies and more. Once you cross the draw bridge an adventurous fun filled day within the sprawling village awaits. Experience the drama of a medieval joust, as knights and their warhorses battle it out on the main arena, get lost in the maze be enchanted by pantomimes or learn the ancient art of archery.
Address: 121 Forbes Rd, Leigh Creek,
Opening Hours: From 10am to 4pm on weekends, public holidays and Victorian School Holidays.
Ballarat Bird World
Large range of Australian Native birds, free flight aviary, tea room, souvenirs and outdoor deck picnic area
Address: 408 Eddy Ave, Mt Helen, Vic
Opening Hours – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. Also open school and public holidays. Closed Christmas Day and days of total fire ban.