Sovereign Hill, Ken Stepnell / Explore Australia Publishing

Population 85196

Ballarat is Victoria's largest inland city and features grand old buildings and wide streets that create an air of splendour. Built on the wealth of the region's goldfields, Ballarat offers activities ranging from fine dining in the many restaurants to real-life experiences of the area's goldmining past. Lake Wendouree provides a beautiful backdrop for picnics and the many festivals that take place during the year. Ballarat was the site of the infamous Eureka Rebellion of 3 December 1854. When goldfields police attempted to quell the miners' anger over strict mining-licence laws, a bloody massacre eventuated. The Eureka Rebellion is viewed by many as a symbol of the Australian workers' struggle for equity and a 'fair go'. The best place to get a feel for this historic event is at Sovereign Hill. 

Visitor Information

43 Lydiard St North; (03) 5324 2888 or 1800 446 633

Nearby national parks

  • Brisbane Ranges National Park

    In Brisbane Ranges National Park low mountains are dissected by rugged gorges and hidden gullies with basalt grasslands and woodlands. An...more

  • Kinglake National Park

    Surrounding the township of Kinglake, this bush retreat close to Melbourne offers views of the Yarra Valley, the city skyline and Port...more

  • Yarra Ranges National Park

    Lofty mountain ash bathed in mist, rare and endangered plants and animals, snow in winter and pristine pockets of bushland make Yarra Ranges...more

Nearby towns

  • Creswick

    Creswick is an attractive and historic town, a symbol of the rich and heady life of the gold-rush days of the 1850s. Unfortunately, the...more

  • Clunes

    The first registered gold strike in the state was made at Clunes on 7 July 1851. The town, north of Ballarat, is said to be one of the most...more

  • Daylesford

    Daylesford is at the centre of Victoria's spa country. The area developed with the discovery of gold, which lured many...more

In Town

Sovereign Hill Here, visitors to Ballarat and a good place to get a taste for what life was like on the Victorian goldfields. Read More

Museum of Australian Democracy: multimillion-dollar cultural centre all about democracy on the site of the Eureka Stockade; Cnr Eureka and Stawell sts; 1800 287 113. 

Botanic Gardens: an impressive collection of native and exotic plants; Prime Minister Ave features busts of all of Australia's prime ministers; Wendouree Pde. 

Wildlife Park: houses native Australian animals such as koalas, kangaroos, quokkas and crocodiles; Cnr Fussel and York sts, Ballarat East; (03) 5333 5933.

Art Gallery : holds a significant collection of Australian art. The original Eureka Stockade flag is also on display; 40 Lydiard St North; (03) 5320 5791.

Gold Museum: details the rich goldmining history of the area; opposite Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw St; (03) 5337 1107; admission free with Sovereign Hill Ticket.

Historic buildings: include Her Majesty's Theatre, built in 1875 and Australia's oldest intact, purpose-built theatre, and Craig's Royal and the George hotels, with classic old-world surroundings; Lydiard St.

Vintage Tramway: via Wendouree Pde; rides weekends, and public and school holidays.

Avenue of Honour and Arch of Victory: honours those who fought in WW I; western edge of city.  


Enfield State Park Great for bushwalking or horseriding, the park is home to many species of orchids and numerous animals including echidnas, koalas, bats and frogs. There is a pretty picnic ground at Remote Long Gully, and numerous walking tracks. Also featured are the remnants of early goldmining settlements, including the Berringa Mines Historic Reserve. Contact Parks Victoria on 131 963. Access via Incolls and Misery Creek rds; 25 km S.

Buninyong Buninyong features many fine art and craft galleries. The Buninyong Flora and Bird Park, home to many species of parrots, has raised walkways through the aviaries. 408 Eddy Ave, Mt Helen; (03) 5341 3843. Buninyong Good Life Festival; 3rd weekend in Oct, and in May for the Buninyong Film Festival. The Mt Buninyong Lookout east of town offers great views. 13 km SE.

Kirks and Gong Gong reserves: ideal for picnics and bushwalking, these parks include many unique, indigenous plants; on opposite sides of Daylesford Rd; 5 km NE.

Kryal Castle: replica of a medieval castle, with daily tours and family entertainment; (03) 5334 7422; 9 km E.

Yuulong Lavender Estate: set in scenic landscaped gardens, the estate produces and sells lavender products; closed May–Sep; Yendon Rd, Mt Egerton; (03) 5368 9453; 25km SE.

Lal Lal Falls: plunge 30 m into the Moorabool River; 18 km SE.

Lal Lal Blast Furnace: fascinating 19th-century archaeological remains; 18 km SE.

Lake Burrumbeet: this 2100 ha lake is a popular fishing spot, especially for redfin in spring and summer. Watersports and family activities are available on the lake; various boat ramps provide access. Caravan parks are set on the lakeside and are popular with holiday-makers; 22 km NW.

Skipton: in town is an eel factory selling smoked eel and other products; 51 km SW. South of town are the Mt Widderin Caves – one has been named the Ballroom, as it was once a venue for dances and concerts. The caves are on private property; tours by appt (03) 5340 2081.

Beaufort: a small town on the shores of Lake Beaufort, an artificial lake surrounded by gardens, providing a picturesque location for picnics and leisurely walks; 54 km W. South of town is Lake Goldsmith, home of a major rally of steam-driven machinery and vehicles each May and Oct.

Mooramong Homestead: built in the 1870s and then altered during the 1930s by its ex-Hollywood owners. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a flora and fauna reserve, and is open for tours 3rd Sun each month; 56 km NW via Skipton.

Great Grape Rd: circuit through Avoca, St Arnaud and Stawell, visiting local wineries.  

Eco-friendly activities around town

Brisbane Ranges National Park 45 km

With a vibrant koala population, this relatively small national park only 80 kilometres west of Melbourne has picnic areas, walking tracks through rocky gorges and a basic camping area.... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Europa Cafe

Over 14 years, this buzzy, family-friendly cafe in the town’s main street has built up an enviable reputation for its all-day breakfast. In fact, the full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner is available all day... Find out more


This bustling, chic and groovy Italian cafe started life as a record shop more than 20 years ago. Today, this heritage is the wall of mostly jazz and blues CDs for sale to the throng of customers. There are wide windows... Find out more

Masons Cafe & Foodstore

This beautiful old Victorian corner pub is a friendly haven any time of day. Call in for a morning or afternoon coffee and cake, a light lunch or more hearty dinner, or pick up good food-to-go – all made on the... Find out more

Nearby breweries

Holgate Brewhouse 63 km

Paul and Natasha Holgate have travelled a decidedly different path to most other craft-brewery operators over the past decade or so. They started brewing ales from a shed adjacent to their family home in Woodend in the... Find out more

Campsites around town

Slaty Creek camping area 12 km

There are actually 3 camping areas spread around Slaty Creek in the south of the park: Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3 camping areas. After you’ve taken a nap under a manna gum and panned for gold in the creek,... Find out more

Lake Burrumbeet Caravan Park 19 km

When it holds water, Lake Burrumbeet attracts watersports lovers from around the region, and anglers keen on catching trout and redfin. It’s situated on the western fringe of Ballarat, the town centre of which is... Find out more

Surface Point camping area 25 km

A Chinese settlement was located at Surface Point in the gold-rush days, and there’s still some evidence of it scattered throughout the bush. Try your hand at fossicking along Misery Creek – don’t let... Find out more

Bush camping 34 km

Permitted within the forest. Contact ranger for details.... Find out more

Blackwood Mineral Springs Caravan Park 41 km

Blackwood struck it big (albeit briefly) as a goldmining area in the 1850s and visitors can still pan for gold here. They can also take numerous walks in the area, including to the springs, along the Lerderderg River and... Find out more

Boar Gully camping area 42 km

The campsites at Boar Gully need to be booked in advance. Boar Gully is at one end of the 3-day Burchell Trail that traverses the park; the other is at the Steiglitz Courthouse. While navigating this track, bushwalkers... Find out more

Mount Franklin Reserve camping area 42 km

The crater of the extinct Mt Franklin volcano makes a wonderful setting for an overnight camp. Separated from Hepburn Regional Park proper by the Midlands Hwy, the reserve is an enclave of large conifers that makes a... Find out more

Fridays camping area 44 km

Fridays is located at the western end of the national park and has basic facilities. There are a number of great walks to the east of here around Stony Creek. The 3 km Anakie Gorge walk is a good leg-stretcher. For a bit... Find out more

O’Briens Crossing camping area 45 km

O’Briens Crossing is a lovely picnic spot in the north of the park. From here you can walk west to Shaws Lake and Sweets Lookout. Experienced bushwalkers should consider shadowing the Lerderderg River across the... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park 1 km

Centrally located (2 km from the city centre) and easily accessible, this quality park has a wide range of accommodation and very good facilities, including a heated pool and spa, and bathrooms for children and families.... Find out more

A Welcome Stranger Holiday Park 3 km

Located 2.5 km east of Ballarat, this is a good quality park in a quiet, easily accessible area. The park has a large number of sites, a heated pool, a spa, minigolf, an adventure playground and a tennis court. We... Find out more

BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park 8 km

This well-established, quality park is in a quiet rural area 6 km west of the city on the old Western Highway. It has a great range of facilities including a spa, sauna and tennis court. Bookings are required at Easter... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Abena’s Boutique Accommodation

Set in one of Ballarat’s most historic streets, Abena’s is a stylish self-contained house only a few minutes from Sovereign Hill and the CBD. Three bedrooms feature a four-poster bed, a double and two... Find out more

Craig’s Royal Hotel

This beautiful heritage hotel, built from 1862, features 41 elegant suites and rooms bedecked with antiques and featuring luxury bathrooms (suites have spas). The gracious public areas, bars and dining rooms have been... Find out more

Cumberland Villa

Built in 1890, this self-contained Victorian villa has been graciously restored to accommodate eight guests in four bedrooms. There are two bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchen, a large lounge room with dining table,... Find out more

Montrose of Ballarat

This beautiful 150-year-old bluestone cottage has a National Trust A-classification, which translates as ‘to be preserved at all cost’. As the first bluestone residence on the Ballarat goldfields – and... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Slaty Creek camping area 12 km

T/O at Creswick

Small secluded campground located 6km (partly unsealed) south-east of Creswick via Bungaree, Slaty Creek and Petticoat rds.

Creswick South rest area 14 km

16km N of Ballarat (L)

Very small area adjacent to the highway among a few trees. For northbound only.

Smythesdale camping area 18 km

At Smythesdale

Secluded and shady setting 500m north of the highway via Gardens St.

Clarendon rest area 19 km

26km S of Ballarat (R) or 60km N of Geelong (L)

Large secluded area just off the highway behind some shady trees.

Woady Yaloak Creek rest area 24 km

26km E of Skipton (L) or 6km W of Smythesdale (R)

Surrounded by scrub just off the highway.

Meredith park area 37 km

At Meredith

Large area located in a side street (turn off at the roadhouse) at Pioneer Park.

Lexton South Rest Area 41 km

27 km S of Avoca (L) or 43 km N of Ballarat (R)

Large area just off the highway. Only limited shade.

Mount Franklin rest area 42 km

26km S of Castlemaine (L) or 10km N of Daylesford (R)

Secluded area 1km off the highway in a shady forest setting.

Vaughan Springs camping area 55 km

T/O 9km S of Castlemaine (L) or 27km N of Daylesford (R)

Small campground 6km east of the highway via Vaughan Springs Rd in Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. Facilities at nearby picnic area.

Jessie Kennedy rest area 58 km

6km S of Castlemaine (R) or 30km N of Daylesford (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Middle Creek camping area 60 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded in the forest 8km (unsealed) north of the highway in Mt Buangor State Park.

Bailes camping area 62 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded area 9km (unsealed) north of the highway in the forest of Mt Buangor State Park.

Leigh River rest area 62 km

At Inverleigh

Large grassed area just off the highway under shady trees. On the east side of town.

Lismore park area 63 km

At Lismore

Just off the highway next to the swimming pool. On the east side of town.

What's on around town

Ballarat Lakeside Farmers Market: Lake Wendouree foreshore; 2nd and 4th Sat every month.

Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields: music festival held in historic venues; Jan.

Begonia Festival: popular event for garden lovers with floral displays, gardening forums, street parades, fireworks, art shows, kids’ activities; Mar.

Heritage Weekend: May

. Royal South Street Eisteddfod: music festival; Sept-Nov. 

Ballarat Cup: Nov.  

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