On the banks of the Yarrowee River in Victoria’s Central Highlands is Ballarat, Australia’s third-largest inland city and the birthplace of modern Aussie democracy. It began life as a mining town at the height of the 1850s gold rush, before achieving notoriety as the site of the Eureka Rebellion, Australia’s first and only armed insurrection. Today, Ballarat’s colourful, turbulent history is brought to life through a variety of different attractions, each shedding light on a new chapter of Australian history. If you want to explore regional Victoria, like learning about the past, or just have a love of shiny things (who doesn’t?), Ballarat’s the perfect place to get away to.
If you’re a coast-dweller or international visitor, exploring the townships and villages around Ballarat is the perfect way to spend a couple of days; immerse yourself in vast swathes of grazing country and freshly-tilled fields while enjoying the bucolic charm of the local communities. Travel between towns like Buninyong, Smeaton and Clunes, stop by the tranquil lake Learmonth, and pass through the historical Central Goldfields.
Ballarat itself also has plenty of attractions to keep you and the family busy. Sovereign Hill is definitely the star of the show – this sprawling, open-air museum is a reconstruction of a gold-mining town featuring dozens of period-accurate characters, as well as trained craftsmen, nocturnal Lamplight Tours, underground explorations of cramped mineshafts, a gold museum and spectacular gold pours. Even if history isn’t your cup of tea, the sheer sensorial appeal of Sovereign Hill makes it a must-see item. Other great tourist highlights include Ballarat Wildlife Park, medieval theme park Kryal Castle, the Gold Museum, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground.
Go on, start making room in your suitcase for those golden souvenirs that you’re going to bring home from Ballarat, and, while you’re at it, make a booking with Wyndham. Australia’s gold-mine capital is waiting.