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Ballarat Tourism Information

About Ballarat

Ballarat is an elegant historical gold mining city located 100km west of Melbourne and it is famous as the site of the world's largest deposit of alluvial gold. It is Victoria's largest inland city.

Ballarat has majestic architecture from the gold rush era and wide tree-lined streets. It offers visitors the opportunity to see Victorian and Edwardian architecture, parks, gardens, statues and churches.

There are numerous activities to choose from including walking, cycling relaxing at a local winery or take the family to meet koalas and kangaroos at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Gold was first discovered Buninyong on August 8, 1851, by a blacksmith Thomas Hiscock. By mid October there were over 2000 gold diggers. It wasn't until the following year when some experienced British miners arrived and sank shafts into the flats at the foot of the hills that many gold-rich quartz reefs were discovered including the Eureka, Gravel Pits and Canadian leads. By 1853 there were about 20 000 prospectors working the area.

During these years the second largest solid gold nugget to be found in the world, the Welcome Nugget, which weighed almost 69 kg and it was 99% pure gold was discovered.

The last gold mine closed at Ballarat in 1918. During the years spanning the gold mining the local fields yielded about 230 million pounds worth of gold.

Places to visit

Ballarat Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens, which cover 40 hectares were created in 1858-59. They feature the Robert Clarke Conservatory which is a free-standing, fully-glazed walk through floral conservatory. Six different displays are held each year with the landscaping completely redesigned for each exhibition. Other features of the gardens includes a fernery, water lily pond, azalea garden, camellia garden, a floral clock, The gardens also contains some magnificent, enormous trees planted from 1863

Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
The Ballarat Fine Art Gallery has an excellent collection of Australian art and the original Eureka flag. It is Australia's oldest regional gallery.

Ballarat Wildlife and Reptile Park
The Ballarat Wildlife Park is located at the corner of Fussell and York Sts, in Ballarat East. It covers 16 acres of peppermint gum woodland and features native animals such as koalas, tortoises, kangaroos, wombats, Tasmanian Devils, goannas, snakes native birds and a large collection of crocodiles and alligators.

Eureka Trail
The 3.5 km walk which retraces the route taken by the police and soldiers from the government camp to the Eureka Stockade in 1854 was developed in 1996. The trail follows the exact route taken through the gullies, along rivers and hills. The trail starts at the post office in Lydiard St and concludes at the Eureka Stockade Centre.

Gold Museum
Located across the road from Sovereign Hill, is the gold museum. It has a fabulous display of gold nuggets, alluvial gold deposits, gold ornaments and coins.

Heritage Buildings
Ballarat is a beautiful and historic city with wide, tree-lined streets offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the fine buildings. There is an excellent self-guided Heritage Walk available from the local tourist office.

Lake Burrumbeet
Lake Burrumbeet is 22 km north west of Ballarat and it offers a great location for water sports, trout fishing, picnicking areas. Lake Burrumbeet is also a significant eel fishing area.

Lake Wendouree
Lake Wendouree covers 238 ha with a foreshore area of 16 ha and a circumference of 6 km. A dam was built across the lake outlet in 1851. Today the lake is surrounded by mature elms, oaks, pines and willows and has 6km bluestone walking and cycling path

There are 166 species of water birds and it is a popular destination for water sports including rowing, canoeing, kayaking, sailboarding and yachting. Fishing for trout and redfin is also very popular.

Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is set over 35 acres and recreates an 1850s gold mining settlement including shops, hotels, schools, a theatre, crafts, steam-driven machinery and two underground mines. Here you will also find a dramatic display on the famous Eureka Rebellion. The complex is divided into four parts: the Diggings 1851-1855, the Township 1854-1861, the Chinese Village 1859, and the Sovereign Quartz Mine, covering the period 1861 to 1918.

Getting there

Ballarat is only 110 kilometres west of Melbourne, which is a bit over an hour by car via the Western Highway. Alternately there are daily rail and coach services that depart from Melbourne.

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