Just a few hours from Melbourne is the rural city of Ballarat. Sitting along the Yarrowee River, the city had an almost overnight transformation after becoming the centre of the Victorian gold rush in 1852.
Once just a small sheep settlement, the discovery of gold in Ballarat transformed the city’s history and cemented its role in Victorian history. Over 150 years since the gold rush and though the gold has run out, the city’s rich heritage remains. Many of the opulent buildings, erected during the early goldrush days remain keystones in the city.
The best place to learn about Ballarat’s gold rush history is Sovereign Hill. The living museum transports you back to the 1800s and the first ten years of the Ballarat gold rush. The 15 hectares the museum sits on were key areas in the gold rush, and the museum even includes original mine entrances.
There are over 60 historical buildings as well as fully costumed staff, welcoming you to this bygone era. Wander to the stream and try your hand at panning for gold, or venture deep into the mines and discover the conditions men faced while mining for this precious mineral.
Wander down the main street and try your hand at candle making or head into the school to learn how to write cursive. Enjoy handmade goodies from the bakery and candy stores or enjoy watching the blacksmith at work.
For a truly unique experience come back after dark for a lamplight tour or their AURA experience.
AURA is a multi-sensory experience, sharing the real-life stories of the Eureka Rebellion. The Rebellion was born from the miner’s revolt against overly expensive miner’s licences issued by British colonial forces.
Sovereign Hill is an incredibly fun and educational day out for the whole family. If you’re coming out to this lovely rural city you absolutely must head here!
Avenue of Honour
Cutting through Ballarat is the Avenue of Honour, a grand trail commemorating local soldiers who fought during the First World War. The avenue stretches for 22 kilometres and begins under a 17-metre-high archway that was constructed in 1920. Lining the road are over 3,000 trees, each with a bronze memorial plaque listing the name of a soldier.
The Avenue of Honour is a beautiful stretch of road that is well worth the drive. The trees are fully bloomed in spring and give the avenue a sense of hope among its sombre history.
Art Gallery of Ballarat
The Art Gallery of Ballarat is the largest and oldest regional gallery in Australia. Established back in 1884, the gallery is best known as the home of the original Eureka Flag.
The gallery is home to many fabulous Australian art pieces and features both permanent and temporary exhibits. The heritage-listed Gallery has continued to evolve since it opened and features wonderful 19th-century rooms juxtaposed with immaculate contemporary exhibits.
Ballarat is a wonderful and quaint rural city that is well worth the visit. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Australia’s colonial and gold rush histories, then Ballarat is the place to be. No matter how long you’ve got there Ballarat is sure to impress.