Ballarat’s Many Delights
Escape the big smoke and head to historic Ballarat this month for art and architecture.
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.
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 free-roaming 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 special-effects dungeon and the dramatic main arena shows. You will be enchanted bythe 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, you can fulfil every need at gourmet patisseries, charming cellar doors, or award-winning first-class restaurants.
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 the Bower: Patterns of Collecting” features artwork and items from the personal collections of four contemporary Victorian women artists: Loris Button, Deborah Klein, Louise Saxton and Carole Wilson. Their studio collections range from curiosities, natural history specimens, memorabilia, discarded books and china, domestic textiles, carpet and linoleum, and old tools of trade. One theme that overlaps all four artists is travel including postcards, a carved frog from Malaysia, a portable Tibetan shrine, and sugar sachets from Italy.
From 19 August, the gallery is staging a major exhibition of photographs by iconic American photographer David Lachapelle, as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB). Lachapelle is recognised as one of the most important photographers of our time. His hyper-realistic images are inspired by everything from social issues and political climates, to street culture and art history, to immortality and the metaphysical.
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
Main Street, Sovereign Hill. Photo: Ballarat Regional Tourism.