Born out of the heady days of Victoria's goldrush, Ballarat has matured into an elegant city graced by distinguished public buildings, fine parks and landscaped gardens. This historic regional city is located in the Central Highlands region it is one of Australia's larger inland cities. One of Victoria's leading goldrush towns of the 1850s, Ballarat's history and its tourism industry play a very important part in its economy, with tourist attractions such as Sovereign Hill, Lake Wendouree and the Botanic Gardens attracting visitors from across the globe.
The Eureka Rebellion began in Ballarat, and the only armed rebellion in Australian history, the Battle of Eureka Stockade, took place on 3 December 1854. In response to the event the first male suffrage in Australia was instituted and as such Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia. The gold rush and boom gave birth to many other significant cultural legacies. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat. Other nationally significant heritage structures include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (established 1857), with the greatest concentration of public statuary, the official Prime Ministers Avenue, the longest running lyric theatre building (Her Majesty's Theatre, established 1875), the first municipal observatory, established 1886, and the earliest and longest war memorial avenue (the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919).
The city is approximately 105 km west-north-west of the state capital, Melbourne, with a population of some 100,000. It is the third largest population for an inland city in Australia. Ballarat is also 82 km north west of Geelong and 95 km south east of Bendigo. V/Line operates VLocity trains running at up to 160 km/h (99 mph) between Ballarat and Melbourne, Ararat and Maryborough. Services linking Ballarat to Melbourne's Southern Cross Station run throughout the day every day, taking a minimum of 73 minutes.
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery Visitor Information Centre
40 Lydiard Street, Ballarat North
Ph: 1800 44 66 33
Ballarat Visitor Information Centre
Corner Eureka and Rodier Streets, Ballarat
Ph: 1800 44 66 33
Sovereign Hill, a reconstruction of a goldfields town in the 1860s,
was the first and remains one of the best history related theme parks
Set on a former goldmining site, this award winning outdoor museum depicts everything about the goldrush era. It features a busy main street, a riverside diggings where visitors can pan for gold, and a tour through a genuine underground gold mine. Craftsmen are at work throughout the township, with a variety of shops and businesses open to purchase goods – grocers, candle maker, blacksmith and jewellers to name a few.
The Gold Museum, opposite the entrance of Sovereign Hill, has a facinating collection of alluvial gold, nuggets and coins, all of which come with interesting stories and anecdotes. Location: Geelong Road, Ballarat.
Ballarat Wildlife Park focuses on Australia's fauna. Its collection includes koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, goannas, emus and wombats. Location: Cnr Fussel and York Streets, Ballarat.
Ballarat Vintage Tramway and Tram Museum is open every weekend and public holiday, the museum proudly displays 14 trams, most of which travelled the streets of Ballarat when the city's tramway was operational. While the museum is open, a vintage tram can be ridden around one side of Lake Wendourie.http://www.btm.org.au/
Montrose Cottage is the last surviving original masonry cottage from the 1850s. The cottage and attached museum and cottage garden accurately recall 19th century life on the goldfields.
Eureka Centre, site of the Eureka Stockade where, on 3rd December 1854, goldminers rebelled against the authorities over unfair treatment. The ill-equipped and untrained miners had dug in behind a hastily built and flimsy stockade under the now famous standard of the ‘Southern Cross'. The revolt was crushed in 15 minutes, with more than 30 miners killed, but their stand galvanised public support and lives on as a symbol of Australia's egalitarian spirit.
Set alongside Lake Wendourie, Ballarat's 40 ha. Botanical
Gardens are known for their begonias. Within the gardens is the cottage
which stood near livery stables which poet Adam Gordon Lindsay operated
in the 1860s. An Ex Prisoners of War Memorial is located in the
Botanical Gardens. This is the only memorial in Australia dedicated to
the 34,737 Australian servicemen and women who were incarcerated in
Prisoner-of War (POW) camps between the Boer War at the turn of the
last century and the Korean War in the 1950s.
Lake Wendouree, a man made lake, was the venue for the rowing events in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. A memorial records the event. The lake has been developed for aquatic sports.
A 17 metre high arch marking the beginning of the Avenue of Honour. Stretching for 23 km, the Avenue is lined with 3,900 trees, one for each man and woman who enlisted in World War I.
Golda's World of Dolls is evidence that there is much more to Ballatat than goldrush related memorabilia. The collection comprises of over 2,000 dolls dating from the 19th century. Location: 148 Eureka Street, Ballarat.
Ballarat Fine Arts Gallery: its collection was established in 1884 and is the oldest and largest gallery in regional Australia. The Gallery houses major collections covering the history of Australian art from the early colonial period to the present day.
Orpheus Radio Museum (Cnr Ring Rd and Western Hwy) has an impressive collection of radios, gramophones and sound recording equipment.
Ballarat Aviation Museum at Ballarat Airport recalls Australia's regional aviation history. Its collection includes aircraft, engines and aviation memorabilia from the 1920s to the present day.
One of Ballarat's lesser known landmarks is its bandstand built by Victorian musicians in honour of bandleader Wallace Hartley and his band of musicians who played on while the RMS Titanic sank on 15th April, 1912. Constructed in 1913 in Sturt Street Gardens, there is no other structure quite like it in the world (there is a memorial to the Titanic's musicians in Broken Hill's Sturt Park, but it is a marble column monument) - the only bandstand dedicated to RMS Titanic's musicians, and one of the few remaining examples of Edwardian bandstands. It also serves as a tangible reminder of a highly popular form of entertainment, prominent on the community agenda for many years. Perched atop the elaborate terracotta roof of the octangular bandstand is a silhouette of the Titanic , which acts as a weather vane.
The memorial was paid for by the generous donations of local Ballarat citizens, along with one hundred and fifty pounds from the Victorian Band Association. A small troupe of musicians turn out each year on the Titanic sinking anniversary to honour their memory. They are known as the Titanic Memorial Band; drawn mostly from the Haddon Brass Band but including brass musicians from Ballarat and Melbourne. They only ever play the one song, on one day, at one venue, once per year. The band also honour the lives of other musicians on the night.