A city that gained fame during the gold rush, Ballarat is the third largest city in Victoria and is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
‘Richest gold alluvial goldfield’
It all started in 1851 when it was discovered that Ballarat was home to the richest alluvial goldfield in the world. This brought in a lot of people to this city, hoping to find their treasure here. The hunt for gold resulted in a lot of money and many majestic and stunning buildings were soon built here.
Currently, there may be no gold to find, but the charm of its early beginnings and the trail of riches bring back nostalgic memories of valiant lives that were once lived. The ostentatious buildings and the rich heritage are reminiscent of the times when gold was found in large numbers and there was a lot of money that was made.
Some of the popular buildings that still exist include Her Majesty's Theatre built in 1875, Craig’s hotel and Ballarat's Town Hall.
Avenue of Honour
4 kilometres west of the city is The Avenue of Honour that pays tribute to the soldiers who were part of the first world war II. There is a 17 metre high arch made of brick and cement and which is built over the road. From here, the boulevard extends to about 22 kilometres and each tree planted here is dedicated to a soldier, with his name written on a memorial plaque on the tree.
Have you ever wanted to experience life as it may been during the gold rush? Does it seem insufficient to just look at impressive buildings built back then? Then step into sovereign hill to step back into time, to get a glimpse of how life was lead during the gold rush.
Sovereign hill is a recreated township, taking you back to the 1850s, giving you an experience of life lived back then.
The prospect of finding gold and the allure of this valued metal not only drew people in numbers but it also lead to strife. In 1854, miners had a difference of opinion with officials, with miners demanding better conditions and rights, called the Eureka stockade rebellion. The Eureka centre has been built close to the site of this rebellion.
A man made lake of about 200 hectares, Lake Wendouree, is present west of the town. This lake, though man made, attracts a large number of birds, making it ecologically beneficial. It also hosted the rowing competition during the 1956 Olympic games. A small monument with the Olympic rings is reminiscent of the glory that the race brought to this lake.
Apart from the birds that are a regular feature in the lake, there are botanical gardens that are present on the western part of the lake. This includes a floral conservatory, lawns, fernary and with the bust of former Australian prime ministers forming an elegant border. To help people get to the place, there is even a vintage electric tramway which functions between the Botanical Gardens and lake foreshore.
There is an interesting city which is about 10km from Ballarat’s city centre. This city, called Buniyong, is believed to be the first in-land town in Victoria
This town has many historic buildings which include an old library, a court house and even a town hall that seems inspired by Italian architecture.
Who’s afraid of a volcano? Mount Buninyong is present to the East of town and it is an extinct volcano. It is about 745 metres and is present on the top of a picnic area, with a look-out tower that can be used for spellbinding views. There are many walking tracks that you can use to explore a little more about the place.
Meet Manaki - The Sumatran Tiger
Meet the most recent member of the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Maneki the Sumatran tiger. This tiger was part of Queensland's Australia Zoo, but made it here before christmas, making this a very special gift indeed! The park officials claim that she will be accompanied by a male tiger, again another Sumatran tiger, soon.
What is so special about this tiger? Well it is found only in the Sumatran Island in Indonesia and there are only about 50 of these in the wild. So, your chances of seeing one of them? Very small, unless you make your way to the Ballarat wildlife park.
The dwindling natural population of these tigers is due to loss of habitat and due to poaching.
Maneki and her male friend are not only here to showcase their brilliance but are meant to create awareness about the plight of their kind. Large scale initiatives like the Tiger Protection Conservation Unit work towards disabling snares, preventing tiger- human conflict and providing the evidence for the legal system to take action against erring humans have been set up.
The Ballarat Wildlife Park has specially designed conservation display that lowers stress of the tiger to keep it safe. The size of this enclosure is nearly twice that of the normal size and includes swimming pools, heated dens, shady areas, climbing pools and more. The security systems have been carefully set up to ensure safety of both the animal and humans.
Acre of roses: Is rose your favorite? Then you mustn't miss visiting the acre of roses, which is a micro-flower farm. This is what you get to do there- bask in the fragrance of these beautiful smelling roses and then take home a bunch. As picking your flowers can be a a little bit of work, there are refreshments available to get back your energy levels.
Ballarat is a wonderful place to visit, and it should be on your list of places to visit this year.