Bal­larat’s Many De­lights

Es­cape the big smoke and head to his­toric Bal­larat this month for art and ar­chi­tec­ture.

Where Melbourne - - Contents -

OVER THE HILLS, but not far away, is an en­tic­ing pot of gold call­ing out for you to come and play. Bal­larat, just 115km from Mel­bourne and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by train, is the his­tor­i­cally rich and cul­tur­ally warm city just wait­ing for you to ex­plore.

Art and ar­chi­tec­ture are abun­dant in Bal­larat and its his­toric vil­lages, such as Clunes, Buniny­ong and Creswick, and they en­rich the re­gion’s am­bi­ence. Cou­ple the strik­ing streetscapes with award-win­ning food and wine out­lets and Bal­larat will tempt you to linger a lit­tle longer.

Of course you can fit a lot into one day—but why not make a night (or sev­eral) of it? Stay in a ru­ral re­treat, fan­tas­tic fam­ily car­a­van park, or in­dulge in one of the city’s grand ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions.

So, let cu­rios­ity get the bet­ter of you— jump in the car, step onto the train, or get on-board a bus—and visit this hand­some city in all its golden glory.

FAM­ILY AT­TRAC­TIONS

Sov­er­eign Hill, an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed tourist at­trac­tion, brings to life the colour and ex­cite­ment of Aus­tralia’s 1850s gold rush. It’s just like step­ping back in time to gold rush Bal­larat—from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Main Street where cos­tumed ladies and gents pa­rade their new-found wealth, to the ex­cite­ment of the dig­gings where visi­tors can pan for real gold! There’s also an under­ground mine tour, a spec­tac­u­lar $150,000 gold pour, the Red­coat sol­diers who fire their pow­er­ful mus­kets, and much more.

By night, en­ter­tain­ment con­tin­ues at Sov­er­eign Hill with the multi-mil­lion dol­lar sound-and-light show, “Blood on the South­ern Cross”—the legendary story of the 1854 Eureka Re­bel­lion. Con­ve­nient on-site ac­com­mo­da­tion is avail­able at Sov­er­eign Hill Ho­tel.

No mat­ter what time of year you visit, Sov­er­eign Hill will come alive with the sights and sounds of the gold­fields—and you might even strike it rich in your search for gold! sovereign­hill.com.au

If it’s an­i­mals you love, then en­joy in­ter­ac­tive play with some of Aus­tralia’s most-loved crea­tures at the Bal­larat Wildlife Park. Hand-feed more than 100 freeroam­ing kan­ga­roos and emus, cud­dle koalas and wom­bats, see Tas­ma­nian devils, and brave the rep­tile house with its croc­o­diles and snakes. wildlifepark.com.au

Kryal Cas­tle is Bal­larat’s land of me­dieval ad­ven­ture—and it’s fit for all ages to ex­plore. Dis­cover myths, leg­ends and fairy tales, be en­ter­tained and thrilled in the Tor­ture Mu­seum, and wit­ness the spe­cial­ef­fects dun­geon and the dra­matic main arena shows. You will be en­chanted by the story of the Land of Kryal, all set in the real-life cas­tle on the hill. kryal­cas­tle.com.au

An­other world-class at­trac­tion in Bal­larat is the Mu­seum of Aus­tralian Democ­racy at Eureka( MADE ). M.A.D.E is a dig it al­ly­im­mer sive, state-of-the-art mu­seum. With the evoca­tive 158-year-old Eureka flag as its cen­tre­piece, M.A.D.E’S in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tions ex­plore the past and fu­ture of democ­racy—look­ing at cul­ture, civics, his­tory and cit­i­zen­ship. made.org

Or, if you want to see the works— why not bun­dle the four above-men­tioned at­trac­tions to­gether to save 15 per cent on en­try? Pur­chase the ‘Bal­larat Pass’, which is avail­able from the Bal­larat Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre at Town Hall, 225 Sturt Street and en­joy other bonus of­fers around the vi­brant re­gional city too.

IN­DULGE THE SENSES

Bal­larat’s pic­turesque Lake Wen­douree is famed for its recre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties and a chance to get up close with na­ture. It’s the former site of the 1956 Sum­mer Olympics. The Lake is just a stone’s throw from the iconic Bal­larat Botan­i­cal Gar­dens. Home to the av­enue of Prime Min­is­ter busts, mar­ble stat­ues, and huge shady trees—

it’s one of Aus­tralia’s old­est and finest gar­dens set amongst 40 hectares. For a touch of well­be­ing, how about book­ing in to one of the re­gion’s many lux­u­ri­ous day spas? Or, if it’s food for the soul you are af­ter—ful­fil ev­ery need at gourmet patis­series, charm­ing cel­lar doors, or award-win­ning first-class restau­rants.

CUL­TUR­ALLY IN­FOR­MA­TIVE

Founded in 1884, the Art Gallery of Bal­larat is the old­est and largest re­gional gallery in Aus­tralia. Home to one of the most com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tions of Aus­tralian paint­ings in the na­tion, works fea­tured here are just a small se­lec­tion from a hold­ing that ex­tends from con­vict artists of Van Diemen’s Land to the present day. Gen­eral en­try is free and spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions are reg­u­larly al­ter­nated.

EX­HI­BI­TIONS AT THE ART GALLERY OF BAL­LARAT

Art Gallery of Bal­larat is stag­ing sev­eral ex­hi­bi­tions this month. From 25 March see The Guir­guis New Art Prize 2017 (GNAP17), a $20,000 na­tional, ac­quis­i­tive, biennial, con­tem­po­rary Art Prize, which show­cases a se­lec­tion of Aus­tralia’s most ex­cit­ing con­tem­po­rary artists. The Prize has been ini­ti­ated and sup­ported by lo­cal Bal­larat sur­geon Mark Guir­guis, and ad­min­is­tered by Fed­er­a­tion Univer­sity Aus­tralia’s Arts Academy. Fi­nal­ists in­clude Ab­dul Ab­dul­lah (NSW), Erin Coates (WA), Brian Robin­son (QLD), Alistair Rowe (WA) and many more.

From 1 April see “Harold Freed­man: Artist For The Peo­ple”. This ex­hi­bi­tion presents the graphic work of Harold Freed­man, a Mel­bourne-born artist and il­lus­tra­tor who was ap­pointed State Artist of Vic­to­ria, the only such ap­point­ment ever made in Aus­tralia. Freed­man was re­spon­si­ble for some ma­jor mu­ral com­mis­sions at the old Spencer Street Sta­tion, the Tul­la­ma­rine Air­port ar­rival hall and the State Gov­ern­ment Of­fices in Gee­long. No­table among Freed­man’s out­put is the work he un­der­took for the Vic­to­rian Rail­ways af­ter the Sec­ond World War, in­clud­ing the poster series, “Men of Ser­vice and Women of Ser­vice”.

Both ex­hi­bi­tions are free. The gallery is lo­cated at 40 Ly­di­ard Street North, Bal­larat and is open daily from 10am to 5pm. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 5320 5858 or visit art­gallery­of­bal­larat.com.au

n Find out more about Bal­larat by call­ing 1800 44 66 33, on­line at vis­it­bal­larat.com.au, or by email­ing vis­it­bal­larat@brt.org.au

You can visit in per­son at the Bal­larat Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, Town Hall, 225 Sturt Street, Bal­larat.

Sov­er­eign Hill.

GNAP15 win­ner, Lou Hub­bard, “Dead Still Stand­ing”, 2014, la­tex, poly­styrene, Coal­brook­dale pa­tio chair, table and bench seat, skate board and plas­tic dog. Col­lec­tion: Fed­er­a­tion Univer­sity Aus­tralia. Win­ner: Guir­guis New Art Prize 2015.

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