The best things to see and do in Ballarat for free

Ballarat lake and pathway


Posted April 08, 2024

Walk the streets of Ballarat and discover the wealth of free things to do in this regional city, which is famed for its gold rush history and 19th century architecture.

From exploring historic architecture and picturesque gardens to immersing yourself in cultural institutions and the local art scene, Ballarat has a treasure trove of activities that cater to every interest. 

Best free activities and things to do in Ballarat

Best free family activities

Lucas Central Park adventure playground

After a long drive with children, the best way to blow off all that pent-up energy is a playground. The two-storey Lucas Central Park adventure playground has a 25m flying fox, agility trail, nest swing and hideaway hut, plus a boulder climbing wall and a spinning four-arm swing. It's fun and challenging. 

Midlands Reserve and Water Park

If you’re looking for a place to cool down, the Midlands Reserve and Water Park in Ballarat North is a fantastic play space for children. The bright and colourful water splash park stands alongside a well-equipped playground within a large grassy area. There are water cannons, fountains, high-pressure jets and more. 

More: The ultimate guide to Sovereign Hill

Best free picnic areas

Ballarat Botanical Gardens  

The gardens provide a perfect setting for relaxation, photography, or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking a tranquil environment, Ballarat Botanical Gardens offers a delightful, free-to-enjoy attraction that can be appreciated by all. 

Lake Wendouree

Enjoy a leisurely walk or a bike ride along the well-maintained paths that encircle the lake and soak up the serene atmosphere. Jogging and birdwatching are also popular activities. Families and friends often gather on the grassy shores to enjoy alfresco meals and enjoy the sunshine. You can bring your own picnic or grab a takeaway from one of the nearby eateries. 

More: The best places to eat in Ballarat

Picnic at the beautiful grounds at Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Image: Getty.
The splendid conservatory at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Image: Robert Clark
Take in the stunning views at Lake Wendouree. Image: Getty.

Best free cultural attractions

The Ballarat Art Gallery  

This cultural treasure in the heart of the city is the go-to destination for art enthusiasts and those curious to explore a diverse range of artistic work. The gallery frequently offers free exhibitions, which are a window into the world of both Australian and international art. 

Self-guided art tours

The City of Ballarat has the largest collection of outdoor artworks in regional Australia. There are about 120 works in the collection and you can follow one of Creative Ballarat's themed public art walks.

ArtHouse at RACV Goldfields

ArtHouse provides a unique space for visitors to engage in the arts. Located at RACV Goldfields Resort, this cultural institution showcases specially curated visual art programs that are relevant to the region. To find out more about the ArtHouse Exhibition Program, visit the online RACV Art Collection.


Connect with others through art at RACV Goldfields Resort, ArtHouse. Image: Matt Harvey
The Art Gallery of Ballarat always has something new to see. Image: Visit Victoria
Go on a bike adventure on one of the many bike trails in and around Ballarat. Image: Matt Harvey
Stay at RACV Goldfields Resort to be close to all the activities and attractions in Ballarat. Image: Matt Harvey

Best free bike trails

Ballarat-Skipton rail trail 

This 53km trail follows the former railway line, passing through scenic countryside and offering a relatively easy ride. It's suitable for cyclists of all skill levels. You'll encounter historical features and enjoy the peaceful rural landscape.  

Yarrowee river trail

This urban trail runs through Ballarat, providing a convenient way to explore the city on two wheels. It passes through parks and offers a mix of scenery, including the river, bushland, and urban environments.  

Buninyong mountain bike trails

For those who prefer off-road biking, Buninyong offers a network of mountain bike trails. These trails vary in difficulty and are perfect for riders seeking a challenge and more adventure.

Best free places to swim

St Georges Lake (Creswick)  

A popular spot for all ages, St Georges Lake was once a mining dam but today serves as a great summer base for water activities. If you’re not in the mood to make a splash, take a hike around the lake’s edge and surround yourself in nature before having a serene picnic or BBQ. 

Lake Burrumbeet

Located 20km west of Ballarat, Lake Burrumbeet is a large freshwater lake. Renowned as a good carp fishing spot, the lake is also perfect for swimming, boating, kayaking and jet skiing. 

Relax in the heart of Victoria’s gold rush landscape 
RACV Members save at the RACV Goldfields Resort →