Ballarat Things to Do

  • The water wagon at Sovereign Hill
    The water wagon at Sovereign Hill
    by Rambling_Rover
  • outdoor area during a live concert in 2006
    outdoor area during a live concert in...
    by Kate-Me
  • Mining Exchange and old Post Office
    Mining Exchange and old Post Office
    by Kate-Me

Most Recent Things to Do in Ballarat

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    Historical and interactive modern museum

    by Kate-Me Written Apr 30, 2015

    Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka and Eureka Stockade.
    This site is believed to be almost exactly where the Eureka Stockade Battle took place.
    There is the new, modern museum, and also artworks around the park such as this metal 'Stockade'

    part of the Eureka stockade circular monument
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    Historic buildings

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 30, 2015

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    The main historic building areas of Ballarat are firstly Camp and Lydiard Streets (Lydiard is where the Mining Exchange is located and many other heritage buildings in Victorian style with wide verandas) and also Sturt Street.
    There is also a signed historic walk which you can take, which includes Camp and Lydiard Streets.
    To learn more about the history of Ballarat, Visit the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Eureka St (Cnr Rodier St)
    To see splendid restored predominantly Victorian and Edwardian style historic houses, Drummond Street North, Webster, Ascot and Talbot Streets have plenty of character.

    Lydiard Street North historic George Hotel, Lydiard St Seymours pub/restaurant, Lydiard St view of Lydiard and part of Sturt St from Lydiard Mining Exchange and old Post Office
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    Sovereign Hill Gold Museum

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 30, 2015

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    The Gold Museum contains a large and valuable collection of gold nuggets, plus alluvial deposits, and gold items such as ornaments and coins from all over the world....and too much more to mention.
    There are also themed exhibitions in gallery rooms featuring historical collections.
    The classy Gold Museum gift shop has a wonderful array of items which include quality souvenirs, pure gold nuggets, gold plated crystal Australian animals and more, all arrayed beautifully in glass display cabinets and shining as brightly as any jewellery store.

    Normandy nugget on display in 2005, found 1990s
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    Hope Bakery

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 27, 2015

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    A good Bakery in Sovereign Hill.
    All goods here are baked in huge traditional wood fired ovens of the time period.
    You can spend ages just staring at the glass window display, trying to decide what to try.
    Besides the Aussie pies, sausage rolls and old fashioned pasties, there are also buns, cakes, biscuits, slices and more.

    Hope Bakery
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    Gold rush themed Mini Golf

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 27, 2015

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    Opened in December 2006, Gold Rush Golf is located at the Western highway entrance to Ballarat, where the giant 6 metre Miner at the gate way makes it very easy to spot.

    The outdoor course is good, and I think the indoor course has 18 holes.
    There's also a cafe with seating area.

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    Sovereign Hill Gold Mining Outdoor Museum

    by Drever Written Apr 12, 2014

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    Set on a former gold mining site, this award-winning outdoor museum recreates the hustle and bustle of life during the gold rush days in the 1850s. A living museum it sprawls across 60 acres. This area, once pock-marked with alluvial workings and two abandoned quarries, is now a vast outdoor stage representing life in the goldfields of Ballarat.

    In the diggings you can pan for gold in Red Hill Gully Creek which is salted regularly with fine alluvial gold. The little specks of gold though proved elusive. A solid cube of shiny metal worth $50,000 is easier to see.

    Among a fascinated audience I listened to a blacksmith at ‘Goldpour’ explaining the complex procedures needed to extract gold from crushed quartz rock. In a crucible "cooking" at 1200 degrees Celsius gold slowly became molten. For safety he wore a thick protective apron, elbow length gloves, sturdy boots, and goggles. Picking up the crucible with a long-handled pincer, he poured the molten liquid, a stream of thick, golden honey, into a mould.

    It solidified within a couple of minutes, but just in case any of us considered a quick grab, he ran a metal rod across the block’s surface, and flames shot upwards. He immersed the nugget in a trough of water, where it sizzles and steamed. Picking it up he held it up for us to admire.

    Elsewhere the wheelwright’s machinery and saddler’s tools are still in use, making and repairing equipment for Sovereign Hill’s team of 40 horses, the wagons, stage coaches, and gigs which carry guests.

    At Red Hill Mine we went 13 metres underground on a tour of the workings. The miners excavated by pick, hoe, sledgehammer and crowbar as blasting was too expensive - the dust and noise must have been horrific. Although the miners were well paid—they made about $75,000 a year in today’s currency—many of them died early of lung disease, and because of mining accidents.

    Eventually we came to a life-size, moving "hologram" a reincarnation of Cornish miner, Richard Jeffrey. He stumbled on what was the biggest gold nugget ever found, the Welcome Nugget - at 69 kilograms, still the second largest nugget in the world. Many were fooled by the hologram thinking it was a real person and they tried to photograph it using flash only to find that there was nobody there in their photograph.

    Main Street was busy with people garbed in the clothes of the period and horse-drawn vehicles. Here miners and their families shopped for soap, spices, herbs and coffee at stores such as Clarke Brothers Grocery. The windows of the Criterion Store display the latest in Victorian style crinolines, bonnets and accessories. Robson & Wayne’s Apothecary Hall contains mysterious powders and some rather formidable surgical instruments. Speedwell Street, leading off Main Street, is residential.

    We paid the Gold Museum across the road from Sovereign Hill a visit. It houses an extensive and valuable collection of gold products. Also it contains a large panoramic view of Ballarat taken in the early days of photography from the town hall tower.

    I left details of my great grandfather here. He had been out in the goldfields here and returned home a wealthy man. I knew from the dates he was out in Australia that he must have worked in the Victorian gold fields but other than that I knew nothing. The Gold Museum offered a tracing service but so far they haven’t contacted me with any information – perhaps eventually!

    Sovereign Hill presents its Australian mining heritage with pride and verve—and its buildings represent meticulous attention to accurate historical architecture and style. Both entertaining and educational, it takes a large part of a day to explore Sovereign Hill’s shops, displays and the Chinese quarter.

    The museum is open 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day. The Gold Museum that is next to Sovereign Hill is open 9:30am to 5:20pm.

    Panning for gold Hologram of miner finding the Welcome Nugget Girl prevented from running away with gold nugget Stage coach doing the rounds
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    Ballarat a historic town

    by Drever Written Apr 12, 2014

    Gold discovered near Ballarat in 1851 attracted an influx of over 10,000 miners in a year. These and those providing services transformed Ballarat from a pastoral town into Victoria's largest settlement. To get an idea of life back then visit Sovereign Hill outside the town the award-winning recreated 1850s gold mining settlement rated among the best tourism theme parks in the world.

    The Ballarat East goldfield alone produced 18 million ounces of gold. Easily found at first eventually it became difficult and after the 1880s the city's growth slowed. Miners drifted on to newly discovered goldfields elsewhere or if among the successful here sometimes invested their money in a business venture.

    Ballarat has become a tourist destination, having kept much of its Victorian era buildings, a unique culture, and its heritage of listed public and private buildings, monuments, statues and expansive gardens. With a little imagination it is still possible to envisage the town in its brash, confident and golden era.

    Notable heritage buildings include the Town Hall (1872), the former Post Office (1864), the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (1887), the Mechanics' Institute (1860), the Queen Victoria Wards of the Ballarat Base Hospital (1890s), and the Ballarat railway station (1862). Other fine buildings include the Provincial Hotel (1909), Reid's Coffee Palace (1886), Craig's Royal Hotel (1862 and Her Majesty's Theatre (1875)

    A feature of Ballarate is its wide boulevards. These are so wide the main street, Sturt Street, has over two kilometres of central gardens between the carriageways. These gardens feature bandstands, fountains, statues, monuments and memorials. Among these are a bandstand built in 1913 as a tribute to the band players of the RMS Titanic and a fountain dedicated to the early explorers Burke and Wills.

    The 22 kilometre long Ballarat Avenue of Honour stretches along the Western Highway and consists of around 4,000 trees, mostly deciduous, which in many parts arch over the road. Each tree has a bronze plaque dedicated to a Ballarat soldier that enlisted during the First World War. It begins at the Arch of Victory.

    In late 2006, the town erected the "Big Miner" at the eastern entrance to Ballarat. The larger-than-life statue of a miner holding a pick and pan greets visitors as they approach the city from the east.

    Because of its elevation of 438 metres, Ballarat and surrounding suburbs share a cool climate. It used to be moist - so much so Lake Wendouree created out of former wetlands hosted the rowing events for the 1956 Summer Olympics. Normally a large recreational lake it was dry when we were there. Jetties, berthing places and clubhouses remain but the lake has disappeared. The area has suffered a long period of drought. Clearly this was not the case in the gold boom days for ditches dug for supplying water to separate the gold from other matter cross the countryside. Happily there are plans afoot to recreate Wendouree using recycled water.

    Ballarat is 105 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, with an urban population of around 90,000. Connected by a freeway it is easy to reach from Melbourne and is well worth a visit to examine Australia’s cultural past.

    Ballarat Town Hall War Memorial The Avenue of Honour Old Colonist Hotel
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    Lake Wendouree

    by cjg1 Updated May 15, 2013

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    Lake Wendouree is a man made lake in Ballarat. The lake was created when they dammed up the swamp during the Gold Rush in the 1850's. The Lake today serves as a popular recreational spot for fishing, rowing, boating and canoeing. The Lake even hosted the 1956 Olympic games in the canoeing and rowing events. A special monument commemorates those Olympic Games is along the lake edge.

    Our first day in Ballarat we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the lake(our hotel was in walking distance). Despite it being a work day, the lake was busy with people fishing, biking, jogging and boating. The water itself was also busy with all the ducks, swans and waterbirds taking a swim and catching some fish. It was a hot sunny day but the lake has plenty of large trees surrounding that kept us cool and shaded for most of our walk.

    We enjoyed exploring the area and stopping at some benches along the way to relax and enjoy some quiet time with each other. The lake is a nice little retreat in the middle of Ballarat.

    My wife enjoying the lake (11/2012)

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    Arch of Victory

    by cjg1 Updated Apr 22, 2013

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    As we drove into Ballarat from the highway we encountered the Victory Arch. This large arch spanned the length of the road almost as if to welcome us into the city. Later we found out this is the entrance point to the Avenue of Honour; which encompassed several War memorials along the road. The Memorials are for the Boer War, WWII, and Vietnam.

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    Living History in Sovereign Hill

    by Rambling_Rover Updated Nov 23, 2009

    One of the many parallels between the United States and Australia is a Gold Rush. On an earlier trip to Alaska we visited the Gold Rush town of Skagway so we had to see Sovereign Hill. We were not disapointed. This is a first rate living history museum and well worth your time. There are museum displays, instructional movies, buildings both old and new that all tell the tale of the 1850's gold rush in the state of Victoria. You can see miners tents and huts, a Victorian vaudeville show, a gold bar being poured and lots of old mining equipment and steam engines to gawk at. Of special intrest to me was the exhibit on the Chinese miners. What a story! We had a full day of it here. Do not miss the pies at the bakery! I would venture to say they were the best I had on this trip to Australia. They are baked in a wood fired brick oven and are delicious! After we saw all we could and posed with the redcoats (We are British reenactors for the American Revolution reenactments in the States) we walked across the street to the Gold museum. Alas our bus was ready to leave and I only got to see a small bit of this musuem before we had to go.

    The water wagon at Sovereign Hill Pouring the gold bar Nice bar, but it's just for looking at! Inside a miners tent Lee with one of the military interpretors
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  • Ballarat Ghost Tour

    by FoxPearl Written Oct 4, 2008

    Eerie Tours Ballarat is a walking ghost tour of the historical Lydiard and Camp St areas, and the website is www.eerietours.com.au
    I am a local resident and was invited on a tour, and since there is generally little to do at night time in Ballarat I jumped at the chance. The tour went for an hour and a half, and was so lively and interesting. Even being a local, there were lots of stories and happenings that I had never heard of, and the tour guide was excellent at telling them. He brought out the history and facts as well which make the stories so much more creepy! It was a very cold night but after we got involved it didn't matter, although I was very glad to have taken their advice when booking to rug up!
    A great experience, and I think tourists and locals would both thoroughly enjoy it.

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    Soverign Hill

    by stevemt Updated Jun 28, 2007

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    Yes this is a very touristy thing to do, but it is informitive as to how things worked in the gold rish era.

    This place has every one of its employees in period costume, doing things the way things were done in that era, (including the punnishments and exectutions)

    An old mine

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    Eureka Stockade

    by stevemt Updated Jun 28, 2007

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    The Eureka Stockade was a gold miners' revolt in 1854 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, against the officials supervising the mining of gold in the region of Ballarat. It was prompted by grievances over heavily priced mining items, the expense of a Miner's Licence, and taxation (licence) without represenation and the actions of the government and its agents (police, militia).[1] [2] While the events which sparked the rebellion were specific to the Ballarat goldfields, the underlying grievances had been the subject of public meetings, civil disobedience and deputations across the various Victorian goldfields for almost three years.[citation needed] The miners' demands included the right to vote and purchase land, and the reduction of Licence fees. Agitation for these demands commenced with the Forest Creek Monster Meeting of December 1851 and included the formation of the Anti-Gold Licence Association at Bendigo in 1853.

    Although swiftly and violently put down, the Eureka rebellion was a watershed event in Australian politics. The preceding three years of agitation for the miners' demands, combined with mass public support in Melbourne for the captured 'rebels' when they were placed on trial, resulted in the introduction of full white-male suffrage for elections for the lower house in the Victorian parliament. The role of the Eureka Stockade in generating public support for these demands beyond the goldfields resulted in Eureka being controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia.

    There is a monument in Ballarat that can be visited

    The Monument
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    Ballarat Bird World

    by Kate-Me Updated Feb 7, 2007

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    To really appreciate this attraction, you need to know that the waterfalls, tree fern rainforest, ponds, gardens and walkways in its pretty and tranquil bushland setting were originally built as a hobby by just one man, over a period of 20 years. Later, he decided to open it to the public and is still active in running it today.

    There's over 1 km of walkways winding through the park. See the native gardens, and you can walk through a large freeflight enclosure. Other birds are in aviaries, and there are many different species of to enjoy (including some cute talking cockatoos often calling out ''hello? hello? hello?'' as you pass!) Open 7 days, 10 am - 5 pm.

    *** I've many more bird photos taken at this attraction I love so much and visit often.... you can see them on my "Buninyong, Vic" pages.

    Entry fee is very reasonable - $10 adults, $9 concession, $6 children (2007 prices)

    in the cage with one of the black cockatoos one of the cheeky yellow tailed black cockatoos Eclectus parrots some friends outside Ballarat Bird World
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    Thars gold in them thar hills - still

    by iandsmith Updated Jan 23, 2007

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    During 1854 - 1858 more than 2 1/2 million ounces, worth about 10 million pounds in those days, was taken from Ballaarat (original spelling) using pick and shovel, and probably much more was taken away by lucky diggers in their boxes and bags of goldbelts. And just this note in passing - the total amount of gold secured in the Ballaarat district from 1851 till today is more than 21 million ounces, or 643 tons; worth, at the present price of gold, the tidy sum of $440,000,000.
    Since that piece was written, the price of gold has gone up!
    There are mines still here and one, where there are known reserves of gold, is held up because of water flooding the mine. This occurred when the First World War erupted and miners, who were paid a pittance, went off to the services where they could get a reasonable pay and feed. This act left the mines without labour and so they just sat there and the water found its way in; so much so that these days they haven't worked out how they can pump it all out. It seems almost incongruous in times of severe drought that you couldn't sell the water first and then dig for the gold.

    The old Post Office, now a uni
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