Ballarat Travel Guide

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Tucked into the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in the Central Highlands of Victoria, this former gold rush town turned vibrant regional city makes for the perfect escape.

Ballarat, Victoria

Discover fascinating gold rush heritage and grand Victorian-era buildings, meet cute and cuddly Australian wildlife and indulge in delicious experiences at country-style pubs and acclaimed restaurants.

Food and wine

From fragrant Asian fusion and Italian fine dining to artisan bakeries and bustling cafes serving Melbourne-style coffee and all day breakfasts, Ballarat delivers impeccable food and wine experiences on every scale. Take a culinary tour of the city and explore on foot, with many of Ballarat’s cafes, bars and restaurants within easy walking distance in the CBD.  
Try New-York style bagels straight out of the oven at Brick Lane Bagels or fuel up for the day with a Breakfast Board at The Hydrant Foodhall in a heritage laneway in the heart of Ballarat.
Sip quality gin and whiskey at Korean bar Roy Hammond or sample one of over 200 craft beers and ciders at The Hop Temple, one of Ballarat’s many fine boutique breweries. In the summertime, head to the Ballarat Beer Festival for craft beer and live music.  

Gold rush heritage

Once your appetite is sated, Ballarat is packed full of interesting things to do, from meeting friendly native Australian wildlife to trying your luck panning for gold. In August 1851, gold was discovered in Ballarat, sparking Victoria’s famous gold rush. Discover Ballarat’s golden past on a self-guided or guided heritage tour of the city’s historic streetscapes, and hear fascinating tales of fortunes won and lost on the goldfields.   
For an authentic taste of gold fever, head to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat for a uniquely Australian experience. An Outdoor Museum covering 15 hectares of a former gold mining site, Sovereign Hill is one of Australia’s best-known tourist attractions. Bring the 1850s goldfields to life and explore diggings and underground mines and try your luck at panning - there are even 1850s shops, dwellings, costumed characters and coach rides.  

Meet Australian wildlife

Get up close and personal with some of Australia's most famous native animals at the interactive Ballarat Wildlife Park, set on 37 acres of natural bushland. There are a range of thrilling animal encounters to choose from including hand-feeding more than 100 free roaming kangaroos, the colony of Little Penguins and meeting the meerkats.   
You can also interact with koalas, wombats and an array of reptiles, even a giant tortoise called Hugo, and have your photo taken with the animals. Meet Pablo the Boa Constrictor or cuddle a friendly wombat. As part of their tiger conservation efforts, there are also now two resident Sumatran Tigers in their Tiger Sanctuary.  

How to get to Ballarat

Ballarat is 114kms northwest of Melbourne in Victoria, a 1.5 hour drive from Melbourne city along the National Highway. Bendigo is 119kms northeast or a 1hr and 40 min drive. Buses run frequently from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, with the journey taking about 1hr 45 mins. You can also catch a train from Southern Cross Station, the trip taking about 1.5 hours or hire a car and enjoy a scenic route.

Top things to do in Ballarat

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