Ballarat is located 112km northwest of Melbourne
in the Victorian Goldfields. Famous for its alluvial gold rush in the 1850’s, the town is rich in history and is where the gold rush era comes to life.
In 1851the first hint of gold was panned in Canadian Creek at Golden Point. This find was the catalyst to what was to become a massive gold rush in the region and a significant era in Australian history. Ballarat’s golden past can be discovered and embraced in the city’s unique attractions on offer today.
Sovereign Hill is a historical tourist precinct exhibiting the Ballarat of the gold rush era. This remarkable imitation of the 1850’s goldfields takes you back in time in every aspect. Colonial buildings, blacksmiths, Clydesdale horses, candle making, musket firing, gold pouring and gold panning, to name a few. Located on an original gold mine, Sovereign Hill offers you the chance to find your own piece of precious yellow metal and tour an old gold mine. The gold rush atmosphere is in the air here as staff members portray the gold pioneers in costume and character. There is so much to see and do as well as be educated about our rich Australian past. Sovereign Hill is situated on Bradshaw St and is open daily from 10am to 5pm and entry fees apply.
The Gold Museum is located adjacent to Sovereign Hill and showcases a magnificent collection of gold items in its galleries. Nuggets, coins and artwork are all on display and a gift shop with an extensive range of gold items is here to tempt. A 20 minute Golden Treasures Tour is conducted at 4.30pm daily where you can learn about some of the museums most treasured possessions. The Gold Museum is open daily from 9.30am to 5.20pm and entry fees apply.
The Eureka Centre exhibits the story of a significant event in the history of Australian gold mining and political democracy. The battle of the Eureka Stockade came about between Ballarat’s gold diggers and policemen on the fateful day of 3 Dec 1854. After much controversy over imposed monthly mining licences on labour rather than gold, which many less successful diggers could not afford, a chain of events led to the demise of many men in a tragic slaughter. The killing of a Scottish digger outside the Eureka Hotel, the discharging of the alleged murderer and the diggers burning down the Eureka Hotel saw a democratic movement being formed by the angry diggers. The “Ballarat Reform League Charter” demanded political changes and licence abolishment which was denied and led to heavier licence checks and fines. The diggers created the Southern Cross flag, burnt their licences and built a stockade at Eureka in protest of the mining laws and an attempt to have them revoked. The government refused to budge and sent an armed force to arrest the diggers who were only standing up for their rights and freedom of expression. A blood bath was the result with only a few arrests occurring. Thirteen diggers were tried for high treason and acquitted by the jury. In years to come the mining licences were abolished and a reasonable tax was placed on the gold itself rather than the labour. The diggers’ reforms were consented to and democratic change took place. The voice of the people had finally been heard and the diggers did not die in vain. The Eureka legend is a monumental event in Australian history and is graciously honoured in the impressive Eureka Centre. The centre is located on the corner of Eureka and Rodier Sts and is open daily. Entry fees apply.
Gold fever aside, another of Ballarats’s attractions worthy of note is the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. The impressive and delicately manicured gardens feature tall historic trees, bright blooms, tasteful statues, a water lily pond, aboriginal artwork and Prime Minister’s Avenue, featuring rows of head sculptures dedicated to the nation’s past and present leaders. The beautiful gardens are a delight to stroll through admiring the colour and class apparent in the outlay. The gardens are located off Gillies St beside Lake Wendouree, are open daily from 7.30am and entry is free.
Lake Wendouree and the surrounding Lake Gardens make a peaceful setting for barbequing, picknicking and relaxing. The central wetlands have plenty of facilities in the adjacent parklands, a pathway around the lake and many swans and ducks to feed.
The streets of Ballarat today are a visual reminder of colonial times, with the beautifully restored colonial style buildings, The Colonist’s Hall, Mining Exchange and Peter Lalor Hotel, named after the digger who led the miners in the Eureka Stockade. Ballarat lives and breathes Australian history and it is an interesting, educational and treasured experience being a part of it.
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Destinations in Victoria
Great Ocean Road
Return from Ballarat to Victoria