Visiting Ballarat & Surrounds

Ballarat holds a fascinating history and treasures extending far beyond what it is most famous for; the 1800’s Gold Rush and Eureka Stockade. But there is so much more to this city than what is obvious. So, for the curious traveller, it is a place that you could easily spend a full day, even a whole weekend visiting.

For the foodie and wine lover, the scene in Ballarat is exceptional. Locally sourced produce, meats and wines are constantly featured on menus in the city’s growing list of impressive cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels. My favourite, and one you should put on your list is Mitchel Harris Wine Bar.

Pre-Covid (and hopefully post) Ballarat was well known in Victoria for it’s annual Beer Festival; a day event held on a football oval on Sturt Street where local brewers and others from around the state have a chance to showcase their brews. A fun day out for the family or a group of friends, definitely one to put on your calendar.

Ballarat hosts the annual White Night event in September. White Night in Ballarat is much less crowded than the Melbourne event, transforming its streets, laneways, parks and heritage trams into colourful light projections. White Night also hosts wondrous installations, music performances and interactive works.

Ballarat’s events and activities calendar is generally quite full so it is best to check ‘What’s On’ at Visit Ballarat to work out when is best to visit to coincide with an event.

While the well-kept Victorian-era buildings are fascinating and Sovereign Hill is a tourist destination, there is much more of Ballarat to love;

  • Wander around Lydiard Street
  • Walk Lake Wendouree (sunset is especially nice)
  • Visit many artisan shops
  • Explore the Botanical Gardens
  • Taste your way through Ballarat’s food scene
  • Sip on locally brewed craft beers and local wines
  • Visit art galleries
  • High tea at Craig’s Hotel
  • Visit Sovereign Hill (a must is the Raspberry Drops) and Eureka Stockade
  • Meet the animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park
  • Head out to Buninyong
  • Stock up on local produce at Farmers Markets
  • See the Gold Rush opulence on a Heritage Walk

If your are day tripping from Melbourne, I highly recommend you get up early and put some decent time aside to explore beautiful Ballarat! If you happen to spend a few days exploring Ballarat, head out to the small but cute surrounding towns like Buninyong, Creswick and Clunes (to name a few). Mineral Springs and Spa towns, Daylesford and Hepburn are a short car drive away.

Ballarat is just over 100kms away from Melbourne. The best way to get there is by car, from Melbourne CBD, it will take you 1.5 hours. Alternatively, the V/Line train service from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne runs multiple times a day, seven days a week and do run late into the night.

For more information on what’s on in Ballarat Visit the tourist centre.