Continuing on our wonderful trip in Australia we leave Eastern Victoria and head towards the Western District to the country town of Ballarat, just over an hour's drive north of Melbourne. This large country town is well worth a visit as it has much to offer with attractions from Sovereign Hill (a museum of the early gold mining days of Ballarat) to the Ballarat Art Gallery. Ballarat is well-known historically for the Eureka Stockade ~ the rebellion of gold miners against British colonial soldiers over fees and to the finding of one of the largest gold nuggets in Australia - the "Welcome" nugget.
“To see the world your simple trick,
Is but to take a walking stick,
Assume an air of pleasure,
And tell the people near and far,
You stroll about because you are,
A Gentleman of Leisure.”
from : The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
Self Contained Caravan Parks
Our first choice of travel in country Australia is to rent a car and stay at caravan parks which are widespread throughout the country. Our preference is to stay in park model self-contained cabins available with kitchen facilities and hopefully the park has a pool if travelling in the heat of summer. We find this type of accommodation more relaxing, a great way to meet the “locals” and the parks are usually centrally located for ease of travel and further exploration.
Ballarat Heritage Buildings
Our first tour of the day was to stroll down one of the main streets from the railway station via the Gold Mining Exchange and shop and spend time in the Ballarat Art Gallery which had a special art display Eamon O'Toole "Big Boy Toys" of full-size motor sport plastic sculptures and a permanent display on the second floor. Definitely worth a visit.
Further down we passed many other historic heritage buildings and the (current) University of Ballarat. It's wonderful to see many of these historic buildings built in the 1800's have been well maintained and are in current use, including one of the oldest, The George Hotel (circa 1854).
Being a larger “country” town there is a wide choice of shopping from Bridge to Central Square Mall as well as many other attractions you may wish to visit. Most are centrally located in the “downtown” area and easy walking distance.
Other Attractions Nearby
The Botanical Gardens which houses Adam Lindsay Gordon's cottage and the magnificent annual Begonia festival in March each year. The gardens also house the historic trams and tramway museum. Across the street is Lake Wendouree which several years ago was bone dry (during the recent drought) but is now brimming with water and bird life including black swans. All great ways to spent time with family and friends perhaps while having an ice cream.
Take Time for a Road Trip to
- Pyrenees Wine Growing area
- Grampians and Halls Gap - National Park
- Daylesford - Hepburn Springs and area
- Bendigo - another old gold mining town
- Emergency services in Australia is 0 0 0 (and not 9 1 1 as in North America)
- There is easy access to Ballarat from:
- Tullamarine International Airport direct shuttle bus
- V Rail train from Southern Cross Train station (downtown Melbourne) to Lydiard Street, Ballarat
- Rental cars from Tullamarine airport, Melbourne
There are many food options from fine dining to cafes but we had a little difficulty buying a simple regular coffee (not latte, espresso or cappuccino) and here is our solution ~ order the following and check if it suits your taste :
- “a long black coffee,
- with one shot of coffee (or two if you prefer stronger coffee) and
- milk on the side (hot or cold)”
Ballarat is definitely another pleasant, larger "country" town to visit and enjoy the many unique sites and friendly "Aussies".
Links & References
- There is still gold in the Ballarat hills – large nugget found January 2013
- The history of the Eureka Stockade
- More information of the Eureka Stockade
- Who is Adam Lindsay Gordon
- Art Gallery of Ballarat - admission by donation
- Annual Begonia Festival
- Annual Antique Fair
- The "Welcome" gold nugget
- Central Ballarat statistics (2011)
- Biography of Sir W.E. Hans Heysen (1877 - 1968)
- The Cedars - home and studio of Sir Hans Heysen
More permanent displays from the Ballarat Art Gallery
Featured Image : Alfred Williams "Gathering the Herd, Isle of Skye" 1876