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Goldfields : Ballarat
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Ballarat [6] is a city of 84,000 people, about 110 km (65 miles) north-west of Melbourne in the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia. Drive time from Melbourne is about 80-90 minutes. Ballarat is most noted as a former goldmining town and the site of the famous miners' revolt at the Eureka Stockade in 1854.

Get in

By car

Ballarat is an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne on the Western Freeway (M8). Alternatively, from Geelong take the southern section of the A300; from Bendigo and Castlemaine take the northern section of the same highway.

By train

Frequent V/Line [7] trains run from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne. The trip takes approx 1 hour and 20 minutes and Ballarat Station is in the centre of the city.

By plane

Ballarat is not served directly by commercial passenger flights. You therefore need to fly to Melbourne. There is an Airport Shuttle Bus [8] between Ballarat and Melbourne's main domestic and international airport, Melbourne airport (MEL), also known as Tullamarine on some booking sites. The shuttle bus costs $30 for adults, $76 for families, $16 for children 3 to 16, and children under 3 are free. For more information on Tullamarine see Melbourne airport.

There is no direct connection between Melbourne's secondary Avalon airport (AVV) and Ballarat, and the options are to either hire a car, or get the coach into Melbourne's Southern Cross train station and then the train to Ballarat, which is a considerable detour.

Get around

The Ballarat Visitor Information Centre, a short walk from the Station, operates a friendly visitor shuttle bus. This service links to the main tourist attractions as well as to Buninyong Township.

You can get around Ballarat by bicycle. There are two options for bicycle hire.

  • Bicycle Centre Ballarat, 24 Armstrong Street Nth, +61 3 5334 4388 (fax: +61 3 5331 8155), [1].
  • Welcome Nugget – Bicycles for Hire, 128 Lydiard Street Nth, 0423 268 618 ().


  • Visitor Information Centre, 43 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat CBD (03) 5324 2888.
  • Kryal Castle, [9] A medieval castle situated just eight kilometres out of Ballarat on the Western Freeway. It has royal accommodation, restaurant, re-enactments and an interesting history. The new owners are currently refurbishing the site. It reopens in February of 2013.
  • Sovereign Hill, Magpie St., [10]. Every day except Christmas Day 10AM-5PM, till 5:50PM during daylight saving. The “DisneyLand” of Victoria, it is a recreated 1850s goldmining town where staff wear period costumes and visitors can try their hand at panning for gold. $45 adult, $20.50 child.
    • Blood on the Southern Cross. M-Sa evenings and some Sundays. Times vary. An 80-minute sound and light show depicting the Eureka Uprising. $55 adult, $29.50 child.
    • Gold Museum. Every day except Christmas Day 9:30AM-5:20PM. Sovereign Hill ticket gives entry to the museum as well.
  • Eureka Stockade Centre, cnr Eureka St and Rodier St, East Ballarat, [11]. Every day 9AM-4:30PM except Christmas Day. Last entry 4PM. The 1854 Eureka miners’ rebellion against license fees took place here. The stockade was formerly home to a rather rundown wooden shed with a diorama and recorded explanation, but in recent years it’s been totally modernized and the site now hosts a large multimedia exhibition on the Stockade. $8 adult, $4 child.
  • Ballarat Botanical Gardens, [12].
  • Ballarat Wildlife Park, [13].
  • Lake Wendouree.


  • Begonia Festival, Lake Wendouree & Sturt St, [2]. The Begonia Festival, held over the labour day long weekend in March is worth attending, with activities such as a street parade held in Sturt St and horticultural displays in and around the botanical gardens of lake wendouree.


Ballarat has several markets held throughout the week which offer great shopping for antiques, bric-a-brac and various local products such as plants and confectionery. The showgrounds Trash & Treasure is held every Sunday from 6AM - 2opm, entry is by gold coin donation. The Pleasant Street Primary Craft market is held the First Sunday of every month, free entry.


  • Oscars, Doveton St (opposite target, in the cbd), 03 53311451, [3]. Oscar’s Hotel & Café Bar is a unique art deco, boutique hotel in the heart of Ballarat’s CBD. Now privately owned and operated, Oscar’s was originally the Criterion Hotel, a popular venue in the gold rush days.
  • Europa, 411 Sturt St Ballarat, =(+61 3) 5338 7672, [4]. A great surprisingly mid priced cafe, with a wide range of meals, from the tastes of Italy to Asia, also good for dropping in for a coffee or wine & watch the Ballarat foot traffic of Sturt St. mid range.
  • L'espresso, Sturt St. Formally a music store, this place serves some of the best coffee in town, along with quality Italian-based fare that is interesting and reasonably priced. Choose a CD from the wall to listen to, and try the housemade icecream.
  • The Bean Barn, Sturt St. A small cosy coffee shop which sells many types of beans as well as making arguably the best espresso in Ballarat.


There are a numerous pubs and nightclubs in Ballarat including:

  • The Bended Elbow - Newly re-Opened, this venue has several dance floors, an eating area as well as downstairs stage and nightclub.
  • The Karova Lounge - The best place for Live music in Ballarat, with many popular Melbourne bands making the trip to perform there. Cover charge can vary depending on the band.


  • Oscars Hotel, doveton st (opposite target, in the cbd), 53311451, [5]. Renovated hotel built in gold rush days, with 13 modern rooms, restaurant, bar and courtyard.
  • George Hotel, 27 Lydiard St Nth (between Sturt St and Mair St). Bunkroom $30, singles from $50 (tariffs include light breakfast). Nightclub may cause noise in the rooms till 4AM F-Sa nights.
  • Craig’s Royal Hotel, 10 Lydiard St Sth.

Get out

Hire a bike, and cycle the 45km off-road cycleway to Skipton

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