Ballarat is located in the Australian state of Victoria and has a population of about 86,000. The city was founded and became an important gold mining town in the middle of the 19th century. With the first gold discoveries in 1851, more and more knights of fortune came to Ballarat to fulfil their dream of great wealth. Today, Victoria’s third largest city is a magnet for many travellers, especially because of its outdoor museum Sovereign Hill.
Sovereign Hill is the outdoor museum of Ballarat. It is a faithfully reproduced gold-digger town where amateur actors depict the history of the Gold Rush in Ballarat and life in the town at that time. If you want to dig for gold in Sovereign Hill yourself, you can of course do so too – especially children love it! In the Gold Museum you should visit the Gold Exhibition, where you can learn more historical details. At night there is a lavish light and sound show recounting the bloody suppression of the gold prospectors’ revolt of 1854.
Other sights in Ballarat
Lake Wendouree, an artificial lake of about 200 hectares, was the venue for rowing competitions during the 1956 Olympic Games. Today the lake, its shoreline and islands are home to many native bird species. Lake Wendouree is located just a few kilometres from the town centre.
Art lovers will find an extensive collection of Australian art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. The house houses Australia’s largest and oldest regional art collection. To the west of Lake Wendouree, the Ballarat traveller can take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens. It is also home to the bronze busts of all Australian Prime Ministers.
A sad chapter in Australian history is commemorated by the Avenue of Honour, a long boulevard that begins at the 17-metre-high Arc de Triomphe and continues 22km west. It is lined with 3,000 trees, each with a bronze plaque. The plaques bear the names of Australian soldiers from Ballarat who lost their lives in the First World War.
10 km south of the city centre is the small town of Buninyong, which boasts to be Victoria’s oldest inland town. It has beautiful historic buildings, some of which were built in the Italian style, and lies at the foot of Mount Buninyong, an extinct volcano. Several hiking trails lead to its summit at an altitude of 745 metres. From the observation tower you have a beautiful view of Ballarat and the charming surroundings of the city.
Another lookout is Black Hill, a hill in the east of the city on the Yarrowee River. From a height of 495 metres you have a good panoramic view of Ballarat. The lookout is located in the Black Hill Reserve, a huge area where gold was mined in the 19th century. Today it is a public recreation area.