Ballarat, the third largest town in Victoria Australia is a town rich in culture and history.
Ballarat is Victoria’s largest inland city and as it is only an hour from Melbourne, has developed a great art and food culture, with great influences from Victoria’s capital city.
Famous as one of Australia’s largest Gold mining communities from the 1800’s many people head to Ballarat to see Sovereign Hill and learn more about the Gold rush of the 1850’s.
There are many things to do when you visit, so whether you have a day or a week to explore, there are so many things to do, and see.
Ballarat was proclaimed a city in 1871 and has continued to develop its own culture and charm. Most of the city is protected by heritage overlays ensuring that the generations to come will continue to learn about our heritage, from the beautiful wide streets, cobblestone alleyways, grand buildings.
Wander around the town to learn all about the Eureka Stockade, see some of the sites of the 1956 commonwealth games.
Did you know that it is just twenty minutes out of Ballarat? It is a site which has been classified to be preserved from the National Trust. Yet most people who live in Ballarat would not know its significance.
It is a site of such significance in our early industrial history yet was only operational for four years.
This site is the Lal Lal Blast furnace. The Furnace was built in 1880 by the Lal Lal Iron company. And operated until 1884. Located within the Lal Lal-Bungal Historic Area, just a short drive away from the Beautiful Lal Lal Falls.
There is a free campsite and picnic ground at the Blast furnace, that is provided by Parks Victoria and includes flushing toilets.
The 17-metre ruins of the Blast Furnace and ruins of the iron Mine are found on Iron Mine road at Lal Lal. Once you get to the carpark the signage is not very clear, and the path is a little overgrown but if you can find your way its well worth a walk to see the furnace. There are a great variety of signs explaining all about its history.
Nearby is a great view of the Bungal Dams spillway.
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday, Wendouree Parade comes alive with Ballarat Farmer’s market. The market stalls are located between Windmill Drive and Pipers by the Lake near Lake Wendouree. The Farmers market is opposite Ballarat’s botanical gardens.
A great opportunity for you to do your shopping fresh from the farmers and makers.
We took a visit down to the farmers market and enjoyed a great selection of fresh bread, fresh fruit, dried fruit.
Each week there is a different amount of stalls about 50 on peak days, the produce is varied from fresh jams, teas, vegan-friendly snacks, organic fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, fresh lamb, spices, herbs, nuts, dried fruit, cheeses.
The Ballarat Farmers market also has a great selection of food trucks, for coffee, Indian food, brownies and other snacks, sausage sizzle and even an amazing Burger truck.
It’s well worth a visit, especially on a beautiful Spring Ballarat Day.
If you want to find out more check out Ballarat Farmers Market Facebook page.
It’s amazing you can live in a town, wander regularly around the lake but still miss this little Gem. The tramway museum located alongside Ballarat’s Botanical gardens.
The tram depot at the Southern End of the Lake is home to a fascinating museum full of research collections, photographs, interactive displays, and trams. The museum is free to enter and manned by volunteers, however if you appreciate all the hard work and time they put into it their is a place to put a gold coin donation.
Whilst looking around the museum it is very interactive. You can get on and off most of the trams and take a photo in the drivers seat. As it is manned by volunteers it’s hours are a little sporadic as their focus is to have the Trams running along the lake first.
Our favorite tram to see was the Horse Tram No. 1 which was built back in 1887, and restored over a five year period between 1987 – 1992.
In the main tram you will be surprised to see the amount of detail, and information you can find. It has a great area for younger children to play with a trainset to give you time to read all about the history of the trams. A cute little shop full of tram and transport related memorabilia.
Take a ride in history
If you want an even more excitement, In the school holidays and on the weekends the historic trams run along a 1.3km section of rail alongside Lake Wendouree, each afternoon. These authentic Ballarat trams were Ballarat’s main public transport up until the 70’s and some are over 100 years old.
A visit to Ballarat would not be complete without a visit to “The Lake” Lake Wendouree.
Who would have thought that this gorgeous lake a tourist draw card of Ballarat that has over 3,860 ML of water was dry from 2004 until 2010, especially now with the Lake overflowing flooding 90% of the boat sheds dotted around.
Lake Wendouree is a large shallow lake located in Ballarat, it is an artificial lake that was made when the Yuille swamp was dammed back in the 1850s for use as the water supply during the Gold rush.
The name Wendouree (which is also the name of the neighbouring suburb comes from the WS Yuille the initial surveyor of the swamp. When he arrived at the swamp he found a local indigenous women there. Interested about the local name he asked her and she replied “WENDAAREE” and with that the name was recorded, incidentally what she was trying to tell him was to “Go away”.
So the Lake name means “Lake go away”
Now is a great time to go for a walk around the lake with 6k of great walking / jogging / riding track. There are 4 great cafe’s / restaurants dotted around, a kiosk and on the weekends an ice -cream tram.
There is also a historic vintage electric tramway that operates around the botanical gardens side of the lake.
Paddle steamers, Rowing, Canoeing and fishing also make up a large reason that it is a big tourist drawcard in Ballarat.
5 minutes out of Daylesford on the Midland Highway at the base of Mount Franklin sits the Daylesford Chocolate Mill.
This gorgeous cafe and chocolate Mill, make hand-made Belgian couverture chocolates. That are not only delicious but also have a great variety. These include some plain flavours for children that don’t enjoy fillings.
It’s not only a great place to snack on decadent chocolates but the cafe also sells a great selection of slices, coffee and amazing hot chocolates.
The Chocolate Mill has a quaint little playground, some seating both outside and inside, a scenic dam with its own pelican statue. Our children love walking around outside having a look at the dam and the statues around the property.
But the favourite thing for them to look at is inside The Chocolate Mill’s retail store that is situated separately to the cafe. From the retail store, you can look through the window to watch the chocolates being made. Our youngest would stand there for ages watching them work. Then wander over to the display case to choose his favourite chocolate (or two)
The Chocolates are Palm oil-free, made with 100% Callebaut Belgian Couverture chocolate. Made with the finest cocoa beans, they use natural bourbon vanilla and 100% pure cocoa butter. You can taste the difference. Unlike supermarket chocolate, a couple of pieces of the decadent flavour is enough to satisfy. We always though grab some extra to take home for later as well.
Callebaut Belgian Couverture chocolate is Fairtrade certified chocolate. They also claim to have a huge range to accommodate different dietary restrictions with vegan-friendly, alcohol-free, glucose-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free chocolates available.
Next time you head to Daylesford, make sure you head towards Mt Franklin and find the Chocolate Mill, you won’t be disappointed.
Something magical happened in Ballarat on Friday. It snowed in Ballarat. It fell, whilst not enough to settle on the ground, it was enough for children young and old to get caught up in the magic of it.
All around Ballarat children ran around outside to feel the snow hit their face. For a moment the cold, sub zero temperature didn’t matter anymore, all that mattered was that soft white snow was falling.
Children (and some crazy adults) braved the cold, to experience the joy, the magic of snow.
Their is something beautiful, even magical about seeing individual snow flakes fall to the ground.