Within easy driving distance from Melbourne, Ballarat is an excellent choice as a day trip destination for those looking for a well-rounded escape from the big city with plenty of family-friendly things to do.
A day or two in Ballarat offers you a glimpse into living history. Born in the romantic, turbulent and exciting gold rush era of the 1850’s, Ballarat’s story is entwined with our nation’s own history. From the days of Peter Lalor and his fight for miner’s rights at the Eureka Stockade to the discovery of gold in the district that made Ballarat and Melbourne two of the richest cities in the world at the time, Australia’s early years have much of their foundation in Ballarat.
When most people think of Ballarat, they think of Sovereign Hill. Sovereign Hill takes visitors back into history to visit the quaint lifestyle in 1851 and is a great experience both during the day and in the night. During the day, visit shops on Main street where actors in period costume create the feel of the 1800’s, take a horse drawn coach tour or pan for gold. You can also explore the underground mine. Don’t miss the sound and light show in the night which is spectacular as it tells the story of 1854 Eureka Uprising.
The City has great walking and cycling trails throughout Ballarat (particularly around Lake Wendouree) and booklets that outline these, are available free at the council offices in Sturt St. The Ballarat Wildlife Park and the Bird Park allow you to check out some native and not so native (think crocodiles and devils) animals which will keep the kids entertained.
The Eureka Centre opened on 4 May 2013 on the site of the Eureka Rebellion Ballarat. It is a state-of-the-art museum that has been curated by some of the best Australian and international historians, museum experts and innovation minds. It tells the Eureka story in the context of the 21st century.
Ballarat is also a great base for exploring places like Stawell, Halls Gap, Avoca, Maryborough and of course Creswick & Daylesford – plenty of areas to let the kids have a run around.
Creswick is situated on the Midland Hwy and is well located for access to Melbourne (1 hour) or Daylesford and Ballarat (20 mins). It lies at the heart of the central goldfields and is close to the Hepburn spa country and Macedon Ranges. Built during the gold boom of the 1850’s the town still retains an old fashioned charm due to its wide boulevards and grand, well preserved architecture. The town itself is home to the Creswick Woollen Mills, the last remaining coloured spinning mill of its kind in Australia.