10 things to love about Ballarat

Ballarat Town Hall at night


Posted April 04, 2016

Ballarat has beauty, history and vibrancy, but according to our local guide, it’s the people that really make this a place to visit. Here, Roger tells us what there is to do and see in Ballarat.

Your guide:

  • Name: Roger Henstridge
  • Position: RACV Ballarat shop manager
  • Years in Ballarat: 28
  • Why he loves it: Ballarat has the feel and warmth of a big country town but the facilities of a large city. If you need to travel to Melbourne for a day trip or to the football it’s an hour by train to the CBD. Ballarat has a terrific climate if you don’t mind the cold.
  • Absolute Favourite: Are the people. In my job I deal with a wide variety of people from all walks of life and they all contribute to the growing cosmopolitan atmosphere of Ballarat.
Ballarat Botanic Gardens Robert Clark Conservatory

Ballarat Botanic Gardens Robert Clark Conservatory. Photo: Anne Morley

Get historical

Take plenty of time to visit Sovereign Hill (Bradshaw St). The recreation of 1850s Ballarat is a living museum offering gold panning, coach rides and mine tours. There are a variety of demonstrations running daily including blacksmithing, lolly and candle making, and gold smelting. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, and the Sweet Shop’s famous raspberry drops are not to be missed. Go back at dark to see Blood on the Southern Cross. This sound and light re-enactment of the Eureka Rebellion tells the story of the battle between gold miners and government forces in Ballarat on 3 December 1854. RACV members receive 10% off admission when purchased through RACV.

Go botanical

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens was established in 1858. They are set on 40 hectares near Lake Wendouree. Attractions include the Prime Ministers Avenue and the Robert Clark Conservatory. Don’t miss Ballarat’s famous begonias, on display throughout April.

Take a walk

The six kilometre walking and cycling track around Lake Wendouree is a great place for an early morning walk or ride. Playgrounds and barbecue facilities abound and numerous cafés and restaurants adorn the foreshore.

Have a look

Wander down Lydiard St and enjoy beautifully maintained buildings from the gold rush era. While you are there visit the Ballarat Art Gallery, the Mining Exchange and Her Majesty’s Theatre. Have a drink or settle in for dinner at the Lane at the George Hotel.

This entertainment hub is a great place to spend an evening listening to live music and enjoying great food. If you need somewhere to stay while in town, the George Hotel offers serviced accommodation in a central location.


Stretching 22 kilometres, the Ballarat Avenue of Honour is the longest of its kind in Australia. More than 3700 trees represent the region’s servicemen and women who enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Forces for WWI.

Meet a croc

Meet “Crunch” the five-metre resident crocodile at the Ballarat Wildlife Park, situated on 15 hectares of natural bushland in Ballarat. The park specialises in native animals and exotic reptiles and is a great day out for the family, and a visit not to miss. RACV members receive 20 per cent off admission prices.

Buildings at Lake Wendouree

Lake Wendouree. Photo: Anne Morley

Get scared

Ballarat’s Eerie Tours are not for the faint hearted. Ghost tours are conducted around central Ballarat as well as the Ballarat Old Cemetery and are a great way to explore Ballarat’s haunted history. RACV members receive 10 per cent off Eerie Tours.


Visit the Buninyong township, 11 kilometres south of Ballarat, famous for the annual cycling road national championship in January. Take a walk up Mount Buninyong and enjoy the magnificent views.

Take a stand

Pay a visit to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (102 Stawell St). This museum is located at the historical site of the sight of the 1854 Eureka Stockade where miners took a stance against unfair laws and policing. Engage with the stories of the ordinary men and women, past and present that fought for the democratic freedoms that Australians enjoy today. RACV members receive 20 per cent off entry to MADE.

Eat and drink

Ballarat has many great restaurants offering food from around the world. Foodies will love Eat Drink Share Ballarat – a unique walking tour where you can experience speciality local cafes, bakeries, wine tasting and coffee. Grab breakfast and a great coffee at Cafe Lekker (11 Doveton St), just across the road from the RACV Shop in Ballarat.

RACV’s Ballarat shop is at 20 Doveton St North. Drop in for all your RACV membership and insurance needs, plus great RACV member discounts on travel products.
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