When you think of a trip to Australia, Sydney and Melbourne come to mind, along with the Outback and world class beaches. But there’s so much more to discover including seaside towns, secluded coasts, eucalyptus forests, exotic wildlife, and so much more. If you like your travels to be steeped in history, where you can immerse yourself in the rich culture, place Ballarat firmly on your itinerary.
Fly into Melbourne airport and approximately 105 km west-northwest lies Ballarat. Situated on the Yarrowee River in the Grampians, this beautiful city is reminiscent of the Gold Rush era when prospectors arrived to make their fortunes. Gold is still mined in the region, and thousands of tourists arrive each year, where they follow tradition and pan for gold at Sovereign Hill. Travelers visit here throughout the year, but autumn is especially beautiful when the leaves turn golden.
The Botanical Gardens are conveniently situated on the shore of Lake Wendouree. They cover 40 hectares of land and are split into three different zones. The gardens trace their heritage back to 1858 when a decision was made to transform the Police Horse Paddock into the Botanical Gardens. A maze in the North Gardens was built in 1888 to the same design as the one at Hampton Court Palace in London and was later removed in 1959. In 1884 Thomas Stoddart gifted 12 classical Italian statues to the garden, and within a few years, other wealthy citizens followed suit.
For the full Gold Rush experience, a visit to Sovereign Hill is a must. Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum depicting the first ten years after the discovery of gold. It brings to life a bygone era and has been awarded Australia’s best Major Tourist Attraction three times.
Here you can find an underground gold mine, experience street theater, and meet an abundance of Gold Rush characters in full costume. Entry to Sovereign Hill also provides entry to the Gold Museum where you can learn more about the history of the region. Then as night falls, stay a while to experience the spectacular sound and light show.
Accommodation is of a very high standard. For example, you can stay at The Lake View Restaurant and Hotel in Ballarat for easy access to surrounding area. There’s something to suit all budgets.
Ballarat is Victoria’s largest inland city. Its beautiful architecture and building facades hark back to the Gold Rush days. Her Majesty’s Theatre in the old part of town is one of Australia’s oldest theaters.
Lal Lal Falls
Lal Lal Falls is a short car ride from Ballarat and is an area of extraordinary beauty. The cascading waters can be appreciated from a viewing platform, and there are several accessible walking trails. Also worthy of note is the nineteenth-century blast furnace.
If you’re visiting Australia this year, ensure Ballarat is on your schedule. As well as being situated in an area of spectacular beauty it has lots to offer. More than just a relic of a bygone era, it is a thriving city full of history and diverse cultures.