Planning a day trip or a few days in the goldfields region of Ballarat, Victoria? Just 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, it’s perfect for a relaxing and fun getaway with so much to see and do. I’ve visited Ballarat many times and I wish to share some of my favourite places with you.
Here are the 5 best things to do in Ballarat for everyone to enjoy, anytime of year.
1. Sovereign Hill
The first on our list of best things to do in Ballarat is visiting Sovereign Hill. It’s the main attraction of the city drawing people from all over the country.
It is an open-air museum and historical theme park displaying Ballarat as it was during the famous gold rush years.
Here you can experience the days of old when gold was first discovered in Ballarat and have a go at panning for gold in the creek. Kids love this part of Sovereign Hill. I enjoyed this activity as a child myself, and together with my own children.
This is Ballarat’s most popular tourist attraction and famous Australia-wide.
Ballarat is well-known as having had the richest gold rush in the world, and Sovereign Hill has been recreated from the 1850’s gold mining town, as it once was, with Colonial style streets and buildings.
There are many traditional trades and crafts here, including a blacksmith, apothecary, saloon, stables and period cottages. This real functioning mining village also has a mine tram available for rides.
Other activities include gold mine tour, making candles, riding a stage coach, photo shoot in colonial dress, demonstrations of gold smelting, black smithing, and there is also a gold museum.
There’s food places here or you can bring your own and make a day of it.
Location: Bradshaw Street, Golden Point, Ballarat.
Cost: From A$39 per person for 2 consecutive days.
Visit the website for bookings and accommodation on site.
2. Ballarat Botanical Gardens
The Gardens are one of the highlights of Ballarat. The grounds are quite vast and have various different areas to enjoy, including a Prime Ministers Avenue of marble heads, which you won’t find anywhere else in Australia. This is a major attraction and an interesting promenade through Australian history.
If you love art, you will appreciate all the splendid marble statues throughout the Gardens. It is a veritable outdoor art museum here to explore.
Location: Wendouree Parade, Ballarat.
3. Lake Wendouree
This lake is one of my favourite places to spend Directly opposite the Ballarat Botanical Gardens is another picturesque and peaceful location, you don’t want to miss, Lake Wendouree, very popular for walking, cycling, photography and fishing.
The walking track around the lake is 6km long.
Bike hire is available.
You’ll find excellent playground and picnic facilities here too, as well as cafes and ice cream shops.
Quite a few wetland animals live in and around the lake, such as the stunning Black Swans, various types of ducks and many other birds. You are able to get up close to the wildlife and appreciate their beauty. In fact, the swans love people. You can learn more about the birdlife here.
Boating has always been part of the activities on the lake and there is even a Paddlesteamer here for rides. Check this website for details of when it’s running.
It is one of the rowing and canoeing sites of the Melbourne Olympic Games1956.
Please note, swimming is not allowed.
Location: West Ballarat.
4. Kryal Castle
I first went to Kryal Castle as a child and loved it, then took my own kids and it was fascinating and so much fun. A medieval adventure park full of fantasy, myth and magic for everyone to enjoy.
There are arena shows where you can watch the knights jousting on horse back, sword fighting, archery and have a go at some of these yourself. You will also see court jesters, characters, explore the castle, visit the torture chamber, try the huge maze, make potions, and more. There’s food available or you can bring your own for a picnic in the kingdom.
It’s the perfect family outing on weekends and school holidays.
You can also stay at the castle Motel for a full castle experience.
Location: Forbes Road, Leigh Creek, Ballarat.
Cost: From $35 per adult
5. Victory Arch
The final site on my list of best things to do in Ballarat is one of this city’s most iconic structures – the grand Arch of Victory which stands proudly on the Avenue of Honour.
The monument was erected to pay tribute to the Ballarat WWI soldiers, and now also honours service men and women from other Wars.
This is the largest commemorative arch in Australia, and is over 100 years old.
The idea for the Arch and the Avenue was suggested by local working women of Ballarat, who also raised the funds for the project. They even helped load bricks for the build and planted trees along the route.
Location: Sturt & Learmonth Streets, Alfredton, Ballarat.
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