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 award­win­ning 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.

On now at the Gold Mu­seum is the “Re-awak­en­ing the Dragon” ex­hi­bi­tion which show­cases items once used by Bal­larat’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity for so­cial, cul­tural and reli­gious cer­e­monies, in­clud­ing the spec­tac­u­lar Loong dragon.

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!

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.

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.

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

Or, if you want to see the works —why not bun­dle the four above­men­tioned 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.

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.

On now is the “Ro­manc­ing the Skull” ex­hi­bi­tion which is a cel­e­bra­tion of all things re­lated to the skull. It ex­am­ines its power as a sym­bol rep­re­sent­ing death, dan­ger, re­bel­lion, de­fi­ance and a ‘devil-may-care’ view of life it­self. More than 20 prints by Mex­i­can artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913), long as­so­ci­ated with the Day of the Dead, are on show to Aus­tralian au­di­ences for the first time. There are also works com­mis­sioned spe­cially for the ex­hi­bi­tion by Fiona Hall, Reko Ren­nie and Sally Smart and con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian artists Sam Jinks, Rona Green and Ben Quilty.

The hu­man body is the fo­cus of two ex­hi­bi­tions by Bal­larat­born artist Lau­ren Black. Lau­ren Black’s anatom­i­cal art in­ter­twines with another body of work that she de­vel­oped while on an artist’s res­i­dency in Pe­nang, Malaysia. The fo­cus of this work is tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine and of­fers up an al­ter­na­tive way of think­ing about and en­gag­ing with the body.

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.

Bal­larat Town Hall. Photo: Visit Vic­to­ria.

Louise Sax­ton, “Van­i­tas #2 - The Twitcher”, 2015. Re­claimed needle­work, silk, bead­ing pins, on mu­seum board. © Louise Sax­ton. Pho­tog­ra­pher Gavin Hans­ford. Rep­re­sented by Gould Gal­leries, Mel­bourne.

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