In terms of population Ballarat is the third largest inland city in Australia.
Just months after Victoria was granted separation from the state of New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered on 18 August 1851, and news quickly spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could easily be extracted. Unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, which can be evidenced to this day in the city’s rich architecture.
The city is famous in Australia for the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed rebellion in Australian history. In response to this event the first male suffrage in Australia was instituted and as such Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia. The rebellion’s symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat.
Proclaimed a city in 1871, its prosperity continued until late in the 19th century, after which its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong rapidly faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics. It is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and its largest city, as well as a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well-preserved Victorian era heritage, with much of the city subject to heritage overlays. After a narrow popular vote the city merged with the town of Ballarat East in 1921, ending a long-standing rivalry.
While officially a part of the Central Highlands of Victoria, Ballarat is part of the Midlands geological region. More specifically it is situated on the Central Victorian Uplands. Although significant deposits of gold have been mined in the area and mining continues to this day Ballarat is not part of Victoria’s Goldfields region.
Prehistory and European settlement
Prior to the European settlement of Australia, the Ballarat region was populated by the Wathaurong people, an Indigenous Australian people. The Boro gundidj tribe’s territory was based along the Yarrowee River.
The first Europeans to sight the area were an 1837 party of six mostly Scottish squatters from Geelong, led by Somerville Learmonth, who were in search of land less affected by the severe drought for their sheep to graze. The party scaled Mount Buninyong; among them were Somerville’s brother Thomas Livingstone Learmonth, William Cross Yuille and Henry Anderson, all three of whom later claimed land in what is now Ballarat.
The Yuille family, Scottish settlers Archibald Buchanan Yuille and his brother William Cross Yuille, arrived in 1837 and squatted a 10,000-acre (4,000 ha) sheep run. The first houses were built near Woolshed Creek by William Yuille and Anderson (Sebastopol), while Yuille erected a hut at Black Swamp (Lake Wendouree) in 1838. Outsiders originally knew of the settlement as Yuille’s Station and Yuille’s Swamp. Archibald Yuille named the area “Ballaarat”. Some claim the name is derived from a local Wathaurong Aboriginal word for the area, balla arat. The meaning of this word is not certain; however several translations have been made and it is generally thought to mean “resting place”. In some dialects, balla means “bent elbow”, which is translated to mean reclining or resting and arat meaning “place”. Another claim is that the name derives from Yuille’s native Gaelic Baile Ararat (Town of Ararat), alluding to the resting place of Noah’s Ark. The present spelling was officially adopted by the City of Ballarat in 1996.
1850s: Gold rush
The first publicised discovery of gold in the region was by Thomas Hiscock on 2 August 1851 in the Buninyong region to the south. The find brought other prospectors to the area and on 19 August 1851 John Dunlop and James Regan struck gold at Poverty Point with a few ounces. Within days of the announcement of Dunlop and Regan’s find a gold rush began, bringing thousands of prospectors to the Yarrowee valley which became known as the Ballarat diggings. Yields were particularly high, with the first prospectors in the area extracting between half an ounce (which was more than the average wage of the time) and up to five ounces of alluvial gold per day. As news of the Australian gold rushes reached the world, Ballarat gained an international reputation as a particularly rich goldfield. As a result, a huge influx of immigrants occurred, including many from Ireland and China, gathering in a collection of prospecting shanty towns around the creeks and hills. In just a few months numerous alluvial runs were established, several deep mining leads began, and the population had swelled to over 1,000 people.
The first post office opened on 1 November 1851. It was the first Victorian post office to open in a gold-mining settlement. Parts of the district were first surveyed by  as early as October 1851. By 1852 his grid plan and wide streets for land sales in the new township of West Ballarat, built upon a plateau of basalt, contrasted markedly with the existing narrow unplanned streets, tents, and gullies of the original East Ballarat settlement. The new town’s main streets of the time were named in honour of police commissioners and gold commissioners of the time, with the main street, Sturt Street, named after Evelyn Pitfield Shirley Sturt; Dana Street named after Henry Dana; Lydiard Street after his assistant; Doveton Street after Francis Crossman Doveton, Ballarat’s first gold commissioner; Armstrong after David Armstrong; and Mair Street after William Mair. These officials were based at the government encampment (after which nearby Camp Street was named), which was strategically positioned on an escarpment with an optimal view over the district’s diggings.
The first newspaper, The Banner, published on 11 September 1853, was one of many to be distributed during the gold-rush period. Print media played a large role in the early history of the settlement. Ballarat attracted a sizable number of miners from the Californian 1848 gold rush, and some were known as Ballafornians.
Civil disobedience in Ballarat led to Australia’s only armed civil uprising, the Eureka Rebellion (colloquially referred to as the “Eureka Stockade”) which took place in Ballarat on 3 December 1854. The event, in which 22 miners were killed, is considered to be a defining moment in Australian history.
The city earned the nickname “The Golden City” in the 1850s. The gold rush population peaked at almost 60,000, mostly male diggers, by 1858. However the early population was largely itinerant. As quickly as the alluvial deposits drew prospectors to Ballarat, the rate of gold extraction fluctuated and, as they were rapidly worked dry, many quickly moved to rush other fields as new findings were announced, particularly Mount Alexander in 1852, Fiery Creek in 1855, and Ararat in 1857. By 1859, a smaller number of permanent settlers numbering around 23,000, many of whom had built personal wealth in gold, established a prosperous economy based around a shift to deep underground gold mining.
Confidence of the city’s early citizens in the enduring future of their city is evident in the sheer scale of many of the early public buildings, generous public recreational spaces, and opulence of many of its commercial establishments and private housing. A local steam locomotive industry developed from 1854 with the Phoenix Foundry operating until 1906. The railway came to the town with the opening of the Geelong–Ballarat line in 1862 and Ballarat developed as a major railway town. As the city grew the region’s original indigenous inhabitants were quickly expelled to the fringe and by 1867 few remained.
From the late 1860s to the early 20th century, Ballarat made a successful transition from a gold rush town to an industrial-age city. The ramshackle tents and timber buildings gradually made way for permanent buildings, many impressive structures of solid stone and brick mainly built from wealth generated by early mining.
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh visited between 9 and 13 December 1867 and as the first royal visit, the occasion was met with great fanfare. The Prince Room was prepared at Craigs Royal Hotel for his stay. The city’s first civic centre—Prince Alfred Hall—erected over the Yarrowee between the two municipalities, was named in his honour during his visit. The later attempt of the Prince’s assassination by Ballaratian Henry James O’Farrell was met with shock and great horror from locals.
Ballarat was proclaimed a city in 1871. Gong Gong reservoir was built in 1877 to alleviate flooding and to provide a permanent water supply. A direct railway to Melbourne was completed in December 1889. Many industries and workshops had been established as a result of manufacturing and servicing for the deep lead mining industry.
Local boosterists at the start of the 20th century adopted the nickname “Athens of Australia”, first used to describe the city by the prestigious Irish-Australian jurist and politician of the early 20th century Sir John Madden.
The first electricity supply was completed in 1901 by the Electric Supply Company of Victoria. A bluestone power station was built at the corner of Ripon Street and Wendouree Parade in 1901 with the main aim of providing the power required for electrification of the city’s tramway network.
Following the start of the 20th century, however, mining activity slowed and Ballarat’s growth all but stopped—the city went into a period of decline and saw a reversal of the fortunes acquired in the previous century.
The Sunshine rail disaster in 1908 resulted in the death of dozens of Ballarat residents. On 19 August 1909, a great storm lashed the city, resulting in the death of one person and injury of seven others. During the storm, a tornado swept across the city’s northern and eastern suburbs destroying numerous homes in Ballarat North, Soldiers Hill, Black Hill and Ballarat East, lifting and then again touching down at Eureka where it destroyed more homes before dissipating.
One bright spot in this period was the establishment of Osrey Pottery in 1922 by the artist Gladys Reynell, one of Australia’s first potters, and her husband, George Samuel Osborne. The pottery closed in 1926 when Osborne developed lead poisoning.
Ballarat’s significant representation during WWI resulted in heavy human loss. The city eventually lost first provincial status to Geelong. In response, local lobbyists continually pushed the Victorian government for decentralisation, the greatest success being the Victorian Railways opening the Ballarat North Workshops in April 1917. The Great Depression proved a further setback for Ballarat, with the closure of many institutions and causing the worst unemployment in the city’s history, with over a thousand people in the dole queue.:38
The city’s two municipalities, Ballarat East and West Town Councils, finally amalgamated in 1921 to form the City of Ballarat.:32
Since the 20th century
While deep, the depression was also brief. The interwar period proved a period of recovery for Ballarat with a number of major infrastructure projects well underway including a new sewerage system. In 1930, Ballarat Airport was established. By 1931, Ballarat’s economy and population was recovering strongly with further diversification of industry, although in 1936 Geelong displaced it as the state’s second largest city. During World War II an expanded Ballarat airport was the base of the RAAF Wireless Air Gunners’ School as well as the base for USAAF Liberator bomber squadrons. In 1942, Ballarat became connected to the state electricity grid by a 66,000 kV line. Prior to this, power supply was generated locally.
In the post-war era, Ballarat’s growth continued. In response to an acute housing shortage, significant suburban expansion occurred. An extensive Housing Commission of Victoria estate was built on the former Ballarat Common (today known as Wendouree West). The estate was originally planned to contain over 750 prefabricated houses. While planning for the estate began in 1949, main construction occurred between 1951 and 1962.
The 1950s brought a new optimism to the city. On 17 April 1952 it was announced that Lake Wendouree was to be the venue for rowing events of the 1956 Summer Olympics, and work soon began on an Olympic village in Gillies Street. A new prefabricted power terminal substation at Norman Street Ballarat North was constructed between 1951 and 1953 by the State Electricity Commission. The first Begonia Festival, a highly successful community celebration, was held in 1953. Elizabeth II visited on 8 March 1954. The Civic Centre, Prince Alfred Hall had burned down suspiciously that year; however a new Civic Hall was constructed and opened in March 1955. On 23 November 1956, the Olympic torch was carried through the city, and the following day the rowing events were held at the lake. On 2 March 1958 the Queen Mother visited Ballarat.
During the following decades, the city saw increased threats to its heritage. In 1964, the Ballarat City Council passed laws banning pillar-supported verandahs in the CBD, which threatened the removal of historic cast iron verandahs in the city. The by-law was met by staunch opposition from the National Trust, which had begun campaigning to protect some of the city’s most historic buildings.:58 By the 1970s, Ballarat began to officially recognise its substantial heritage, and the first heritage controls were recommended to ensure its preservation. With the opening of Sovereign Hill, the city made a rapid shift to become a major cultural tourist destination, visited by thousands each year.
During the 1970s, a further 300 houses were constructed at Wendouree West. Private housing in the adjacent suburb of Wendouree closely matched and eventually eclipsed this by the mid-1960s. The suburb of greater Wendouree and Wendouree West had evolved as the suburban middle-class heart of the city. Charles, Prince of Wales visited Ballarat on 28 October 1974 during which he toured Sovereign Hill, the Ballarat College of Advanced Education’s new Mt Helen Campus and the White Swan Reservoir and spoke at Civic Hall.
The city continued to grow at the national average throughout the late 20th century and early 21st century. In 2008 the City of Ballarat released a plan directing that growth of the city over the next 30 years is to be concentrated to the west of the city centre. The Ballarat West Growth Area Plan was approved by the city and state government in 2010, planning an extensive fringe development consisting of 14,000 new homes and up to 40,000 new residents including new activity centres and employment zones.
Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse final report published on 15 December 2017 found that 139 people made a claim of child sexual abuse to the Diocese of Ballarat between 1980 and 2015 and that there was 21 alleged perpetrators identified in claims. Of the 21 alleged and convicted perpetrators 17 were priests which is 8.7% of the priests who ministered during this period. About 45 victims are estimated to have committed suicide.
During World War 2, Ballarat was the location of RAAF No.1 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD), completed in 1942 in the defence of Australia against a Japanese invasion and decommissioned on 29 August 1944. Usually consisting of 4 tanks, 31 fuel depots were built across Australia for the storage and supply of aircraft fuel for the RAAF and the US Army Air Forces at a total cost of £900,000 ($1,800,000).
Ballarat lies at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in Central Western Victoria. Also known as the Central Highlands, it is named so because of its gentle hills and lack of any significant mountains that are more common in the eastern sections of the Great Dividing Range. The city lies within a mostly gently undulating section of the midland plains which stretch from Creswick in the north, to Rokewood in the south, and from Lal Lal in the south-east to Pittong in the west.
Geologically, the area consists of alluvial sediment and volcanic flows originating from now-extinct volcanoes such as nearby Buninyong and Warrenheip, which are the area’s tallest peaks. As a result, the basin contains large areas of fertile agricultural soil. Ballarat itself is situated on an alluvial basin of the Yarrowee catchment and its tributary creeks, penetrated by sub-ranges of schists composed of granites and quartz. Along with the visible river and creeks, the catchment basin has numerous active and inactive aquifers and natural wetlands, which are used for urban water supply, agriculture and recreation.
There are numerous densely forested areas around Ballarat; however due to historic wood milling and land clearing there remain no old-growth forests. The major natural bodies of water are in the west and include the former shallow swamps of Lake Wendouree which is central to the city’s western suburbs and beyond Winter’s Swamp and the large Lake Burrumbeet wetland complex. Almost all of the other numerous bodies of water have been created artificially and include several reservoirs, the largest being the White Swan Reservoir and smaller suburban lakes such as Lake Esmond.
The contiguous urban area of Ballarat covers approximately 90 km2 (35 sq mi) of the local government area’s 740 km2 (286 sq mi). Approximately 90% of the urban area’s land use is residential and suburban. From the city centre this area extends approximately 6 kilometres (4 miles) north to the hills around Invermay, approximately 7.5 km (4.7 mi) east to Leigh Creek in the foothills of Mount Warrenheip, approximately 7 km (4 mi) west along the plains to Lucas and approximately 8.5 km (5.3 mi) south along the Yarrowee River and Canadian Creek valley to the fringe of Buninyong. The central city is situated low in the valley of the Yarrowee River and surrounded by hills such that the city skyline is visible only from the hills and the lower lying inner eastern suburbs. The reach of the Yarrowee River toward Ballarat Central becomes a stormwater drain and is completely covered over as it flows under the CBD.
City and suburbs
The city is home to nationally significant heritage structures. These include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (established 1857), with the greatest concentration of public statuary, the official Prime Ministers Avenue, the longest running lyric theatre building (Her Majesty’s Theatre, established 1875), the first municipal observatory, established 1886, and the earliest and longest war memorial avenue (the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919).
Ballarat is a primarily low-rise city. The City of Ballarat defines two Major Activity Centres within the urban area – the Central Business District (CBD) and Wendouree with a high concentration of business, retail and community function based primarily on the Melbourne 2030 planning model and a further 11 neighbourhood activity centres. The tallest building in urban Ballarat is the seven-storey Henry Bolte wing of the Ballarat Base Hospital (1994). Beyond the central area, urban Ballarat extends into several suburban areas with a mixture of housing styles. Predominant styles are 19th-century villas, Victorian terraces, Federation homes and Georgian red brick homes. Settlement patterns around Ballarat consist of small villages and country towns, some with less than a few thousand people.
The Central Business District (located in Ballarat Central) is a large mixed-use office and retail district bounded to the north by railway lines, to the west by Drummond Street, to the south to Grant street and to the east by Princes Street and spanning the floodplain of the Yarrowee River. Lydiard, Sturt Streets, Armstrong, Doveton, Dana Street and Bridge Street (known as Bridge Mall) along with the historic centre of East Ballarat—Main Street and Bakery Hill have retained stands of commercial and civic buildings of state and national heritage significance.
The inner established suburbs were initially laid out around the key mining areas and include Ballarat East, Bakery Hill, Golden Point, Soldiers Hill, Black Hill, Brown Hill, Eureka, Canadian, Mount Pleasant, Redan, Sebastopol and Newington.
The post gold rush era has seen a boom in expansion, extending the conurbation north, south and west. To the west, Ballarat has expanded West to Lucas, Alfredton, Delacombe To The North West Wendouree, Wendouree West and Miners Rest To the north it has expanded to Ballarat North, Invermay Park, Invermay, Victoria Invermay and Nerrina; to the east to Warrenheip and south to Sebastopol, Mount Clear and Mount Helen with the urban area encroaching the large town of Buninyong.
Wendouree is currently the only major suburban activity centre with a large indoor shopping mall—Stockland Shopping Centre (expanded in 2007) and also has a number of surrounding retail parks including a strip shopping centre along Howitt Street including the large retail chain Harvey Norman. Elsewhere are small suburban hubs with supermarkets such as IGA (supermarkets) and small stretches of shopfronts.
Unlike Melbourne, Ballarat does not have a defined urban growth boundary. This has put continuing pressure on the city council to approve development applications for subdivisions outside of the city fringe. In response to lobbying by landholders, the Ballarat West Growth Area Plan, a major greenfield land development plan, was prepared and has approved by the city and state government to allow for planned fringe communities consisting of 14,000 new homes and up to 40,000 new residents, effectively doubling the city’s urban area by extending the urban sprawl from Sebastopol, Delacombe and Alfredton west toward Bonshaw, and Cardigan with a new suburb to be known as Lucas to be created. New activity centres are to be developed at Delacombe and Alfredton.
Ballarat has a moderate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) with four distinct seasons. Its elevation, at 435 metres (1,427 feet) above sea level, causes its mean monthly temperatures to tend to be on average 3 to 4 °C (5 to 7 °F) below those of Melbourne. The mean daily maximum temperature for January is 25.1 °C (77 °F), while the mean minimum is 10.9 °C (52 °F). In July, the mean maximum is 10.0 °C (50 °F); average July minimum is 3.2 °C (38 °F). Ballarat has 55.2 clear days annually.
The mean annual rainfall is 693 millimetres (27.3 inches), with August being the wettest month (75 mm or 3.0 in). There are an average of 198 rain-free days per year. Like much of Australia, Ballarat experiences cyclical drought and heavy rainfall. Flooding of the Yarrowee catchment occurs occasionally. In 1869 a serious flood of the Yarrowee River put most of the lower section of business district including Bridge and Grenville streets under water and caused the loss of two lives. Prolonged drought (an average annual rainfall with falls averaging as low as 400 mm (16 in) per year since 2001) caused Lake Wendouree to dry up completely for the first time in its history between 2006 and 2007. More recently higher rainfall levels have been recorded including 95.0 mm (3.74 in) in the 24 hours to 9 am on 14 January 2011, ending a four-day period of flooding rains across much of Victoria and Tasmania, and contributing to the wettest January on record, with a total of 206.0 mm (8.11 in) of rain for the month.
Light snowfall typically falls on nearby Mount Buninyong and Mount Warrenheip at least once a year but in the urban area only during heavy winters. Widespread frosts and fog are more common during the cooler months. Snow has been known to fall heavily. Heavy snow seasons occurred in 1900–1902 and 1905–1907 (with record falls in 1906), and moderate snow seasons were recorded during the 1940s and 1980s. Snowfalls in the urban area have occurred in recent years: November 2006 (light), July 2007 (heavy), June 2008 (light), August 2008 (light), August 2014 (moderate) and June 2016 (light).
Ballarat’s highest maximum recorded temperature was 44.1 °C (111 °F) on 7 February 2009 during the 2009 southeastern Australia heat wave. This was 2.1 °C (3.8 °F) above the previous record of 42.0 °C (108 °F), set on 25 January 2003. The lowest-ever recorded minimum was −6.3 °C (21 °F) at sunrise on 19 July 2015.
Climate data for Ballarat (Ballarat Aerodrome 1981-2010, records 1908-2016) Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) 42.0
Average high °C (°F) 25.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.1
Average low °C (°F) 10.8
Record low °C (°F) 0.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 39.7
Average rainy days 7.5 5.9 8.9 11.4 14.4 17.7 19.8 18.7 16.5 14.7 11.7 10.8 158.0 Average afternoon relative humidity (%) 44 43 46 55 69 77 76 72 65 60 56 48 59 Source: 
Natural reserves and commons
While there are no national parks in Ballarat’s proximity, Ballarat is bordered by extensive bushland to the north, south and south west and sensitive wetlands to the east. There are a number of nearby state parks and large reserves including the Enfield State Park, Creswick Regional Park, Mount Warrenheip Flora Reserve, Mount Buninyong Reserve and Lake Burrumbeet park. There are also smaller parks, like Black Hill and Victoria Park, located within walking distance of the city centre.
Ballarat is unique in Australia—and internationally—for having retained much of its commons land, which can be used by any resident of Ballarat. Ballarat Town Common, Ballarat West Town Common and Ballarat Common are located to the west of the city. Ballarat Town Common can be accessed via Howe Street in Miners Rest and is used by dog walkers and ramblers, especially because of its open grass fields and native wetland. Ballarat West Town Common is presently farmed on by licensed farmers. The commons were reduced in size during the 20th century for property development.
As a growing regional city there are issues including pollution, waterway health and invasive species. Air quality is generally good, however dust is sometimes an issue in the summer months and woodsmoke from fireplaces contributes to reductions in visibility in the winter months. Ballarat’s waterways have historically been affected by heavy pollution from both mining and industry.
Activism and protection
The Ballarat Environment Network formed in 1993 to provide a voice for environmental and nature conservation issues in Ballarat and its surroundings. Another large lobby group for sustainability in the city is the Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions (BREAZE) formed in 2006. The City of Ballarat released an Environment Sustainability Strategy for the city in 2007.
Many parts of urban Ballarat have been affected by the introduction of exotic species, particularly introduced flora. Common gorse is one such problem which has prompted the formation of an official Ballarat Region Gorse Task Force in 1999 to control. European rabbits and red foxes cause significant environmental damage in the region’s agriculture areas.
The economy of Ballarat is driven by all three economic sectors, though contemporary Ballarat has emerged as a primarily service economy with its main industry being the service industry and its key areas of business including tourism, hospitality, retail, professional services, government administration and education. Secondary industry including manufacturing, which had grown in the 20th century remains an important sector. The city’s historic primary industry roots including mining and agriculture continue to play a role, though one that has declined since the 20th century. Industries emerging this century include information technology service sector and renewable energy.
As a major service centre for the populous goldfields region, Ballarat has large sectors of employment in business including retail, professional services and trades as well as state and federal government branch offices for public services and health care and non-government service organisations. Collectively these industries employ more than half of the city’s workforce and generate the bulk of the city’s economic activity.
Ballarat is the main retail economy in the region. The city has several key retail districts including a pedestrian mall known as Bridge Mall comprising over 100 traders. There are also indoor shopping malls including Central Square Shopping Centre and Stockland Wendouree. better known as Wendouree Village, with a large number of specialty stores. Major department stores include Myer, Target, Big W, Kmart, Harvey Norman and Harris Scarfe. Additionally each of the major supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi) are represented. Servicing the financial sector are branches of the big four Australian retail banks (National Australia Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac) along with Bendigo Bank and St.George Bank and a number of smaller independent financial services firms.
Tourism and hospitality
Ballarat attracts 2.2 million visitors a year and the tourism and hospitality industry is a A$480 million a year sector which accounts for around 15% of Ballarat’s economy and employs around 2,870 people. Tourism in Ballarat is promoted by Ballarat Regional Tourism.
A significant heritage tourism industry has not grown substantially in Ballarat since the 1960s. Ballarat is most notable for the award-winning open-air museum known as Sovereign Hill, a recreated 1850s gold mining settlement opened in 1970. Sovereign Hill is Ballarat’s biggest tourism drawcard and is consistently rated among one of the best outdoor museums in the world and continues to expand. Sovereign Hill accounts for over half a million of Ballarat’s visitors and $40 million in tourism revenue.
Several businesses and attractions have capitalised on Ballarat’s gold mining history. They include Kryal Castle (1972), “Gold Rush Mini Golf” (2002) featuring the “Big Miner” (2006) one of Australia’s big things (although the original proposal appeared larger and for the miner to hold the Eureka Flag) at Ballarat’s eastern entrance.
Other tourist attractions include the Eureka Centre; ; Ballarat Botanic gardens and Lake Wendouree; the Museum of Australian Democracy; the Ballarat Tramway Museum and Ballarat Ghost Tours and Ballarat Wildlife Park. A large number of Ballarat hotels, motels and restaurants service the tourism industry. The Ballarat Tourist Association is an industry based non-profit, membership organisation representing the city’s tourism industry.
According to the 2006 Australian Census, manufacturing is Ballarat’s third largest employment sector, accounting for 14.8% of all workers.
Ballarat attracts investment from several international manufacturers. The Australian headquarters of Mars, Incorporated was established in Ballarat in 1979 with the main Ballarat factory producing popular confectionery including Mars bars, Snickers and M&M’s for the Australian market as well as expanding in 2013 to produce Maltesers. McCain Foods Limited Australian headquarters was established in Ballarat in 1970 and the company continues to expand its operations. The Ballarat North Workshops is a major manufacturer of public transportation products with current investment from Alstom.
Ballarat also has a large number of home-grown companies producing textiles, general industrial engineering, food products, brick and tiles, building components, prefabricated housing components and automotive components. Brewing was once a large-scale operation, with many large businesses including the public company Phoenix Brewery, and although large-scale brewing has ceased, the city retains a substantial microbrewery industry.
Though historically an important sector, the production of Ballarat’s primary industry declined for many decades, recovering only marginally since 2006. Where historically the mining industry supported tens of thousands of workers or the majority of the population, today agriculture dominates the sector, though collectively both industries employ less than thousand people or just over 2% of the City of Ballarat’s total workforce.
Ballarat rose to prominence as a goldrush boomtown, though gold no longer plays a pivotal role in the economy of the city. Nevertheless, deep underground mining continues to the present date with a single main mine operating. There are still thought to be large, undiscovered gold reserves in the Ballarat region, with investigations being made by local and national companies. Lihir Gold invested in Ballarat Goldfields in 2006, however it downscaled its operations in 2009 due to the expense of extraction before selling its stake in 2010 to Castlemaine Goldfields. Along with gold, lignite (coal), kaolin (clay) and iron ore have also been mined in the Ballarat region and nearby Lal Lal however many of the resource deposits have since been exhausted. An active quarrying industry with large enterprises including Boral Limited extracts and manufactures building materials from the Ballarat region, including clays, aggregates, cements, asphalts.
Approximately half (38,000 hectares or 94,000 acres) of the municipality’s area is rural with optimal conditions for agriculture including rich volcanic soils and climate. This area is used primarily for agriculture and animal husbandry and generates more than $37 million in commodities. The region supports an active potato growing industry that has supplied local food manufacturers including McCain, though more recently has been threatened by cheaper imports. Other large crops include grains, vegetables, grapes and berries. Cattle and poultry stocks, including sheep, cows and pigs, support an active local meat and dairy industry. The Ballarat Livestock Selling Centre is the largest cattle exchange in regional Victoria. The Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society formed in 1856 and has run the Ballarat Show annually since 1859.
A $7.5 million forestry industry is active in nearby state forests as well as on a small scale in the urban area along the Canadian Valley around the suburbs of Mt Clear and Mt Helen areas with pine plantations and sawmill operations.
The Ballarat region has a rapidly growing renewable energy industry, in particular due to its abundant wind energy, attracting significant investment and generating revenue for local landholders and local councils. The region is also a source of bountiful geothermal energy, solar power and biomass although to date, only its wind, solar and hydroelectricity has been harvested commercially. All local commercially produced electricity is sent to the National Electricity Market.
Wind energy is generated by local wind farms. The largest, Waubra Wind Farm, completed in 2009, (35 kilometres (22 miles) W – 192 MW, 128 turbines) is capable of producing enough electricity to power a city 3 to 4 times the size of Ballarat. Other significant nearby wind farms include Mount Mercer, completed 2014, (30 kilometres (19 miles) S – 131 MW, 64 turbines) which produces enough energy to power 100,000 homes, equivalent to Ballarat’s population and Chepstowe, completed March 2015, (30 km (19 mi) W – 6 MW, 3 turbines) which produces enough power for 3,400 homes. The first community-owned wind farm in Australia, the Hepburn Wind Project at Leonards Hill, completed in 2011, (24 km (15 mi) NE – 4 MW, 2 turbines) produces the equivalent amount of electricity used by the town of Daylesford. Several large projects have planning approval, including Stockyard Hill Wind Farm (35 km (22 mi) W – 41 MW, 157 turbines), Moorabool Wind Project at Mount Egerton and Ballan (23 km (14 mi) E – 330 MW, 107 turbines). and the Lal Lal Wind Farm (24 km (15 mi) SE – 150 MW, 64 turbines).
Hydroelectricity is generated at White Swan reservoir micro hydro plant established in 2008 and producing the equivalent electricity needs of around 370 homes. Ballarat Solar Park, opened in 2009 at the Airport site in Mitchell Park, is Victoria’s first ground-mounted, flat-plate and grid-connected photovoltaic farm. Built by Sharp Corporation for Origin Energy, it is 14,993 m2 (161,380 sq ft) and generates the equivalent electricity needs of around 150 homes.
The 2006 Australian national census indicated that the permanent population of the urban area was 78,221 out of the City of Ballarat’s population of 85,196 and a total of 31,960 households.
The Ballarat urban area has witnessed accelerated growth since 2006. During this time the population has grown by 23.6% (slightly more than the national total of 19.4%) and has sustained an average 1.9% per year. The recently accelerated growth rate has been attributed by demographers to increased commuter activity arising from surging house and land prices in Melbourne coupled with public transport improvements between Ballarat and Melbourne. Since 2006 Ballarat has averaged an annual population growth of 1680 and in June 2011 the estimated resident population of Ballarat was 93,470 and 101,588 by June 2016.
While most of the city’s population can trace their ancestry to Anglo-Celtic descent, 8.2% of the population are born overseas. Of them, the majority (4.2%) come from North East Europe. 3.4% speak a language other than English. 14.4% of the population is over the age of 65. The median age in Ballarat is 35.8 years.
The average income of Ballarat, while lower than Melbourne, is higher than average for regional Victoria. Ballaratians in the 2007/08 financial year earned on average A$38,850 a year. The highest earners living in the city’s inner suburbs with a mean of $53,174 a year, while the lower earners are centred on the city’s southern suburbs. According to the 2006 Census, Ballarat’s working population is largely white collar 52.1% consisting of Management, Professionals, Clerical and Administrative Workers and Sales Workers, while 32.9% are blue collar working in Technicians and Trades, Labouring or Machinery Operation. 56.5% of households had access to the Internet in 2006. The unemployment rate as of June 2011 was 7.8%.
50.3% of the population have completed further education after high school.
Christianity is the most common religion in Ballarat. 56.3% indicated that they were Christian while 36.9% stated they had no religion and a further 9.1% did not answer the question. Catholics (24.3%), Anglicans (10.6%) and Uniting Church (6.8%) were the largest Christian denominations.
Council Chamber in Ballarat Town Hall, Sturt Street, is the seat of local government for the City of Ballarat. The council was created in 1994 as an amalgamation of a number of other municipalities in the region. The City is made up of 3 wards, each represented by three councillors elected once every four years by postal voting. The Mayor of Ballarat is elected from these councillors by their colleagues for a one-year term. The Town Hall and annexe contains some council offices, however the council’s administrative headquarters are located at the council owned Phoenix Building and the leased Gordon Buildings on the opposite side of Bath Lane.
In state politics, Ballarat is located in the Legislative Assembly districts of Buninyong and Wendouree, with both of these seats currently held by the Australian Labor Party. In federal politics, Ballarat is located in a single House of Representatives division—the Division of Ballarat. The Division of Ballarat has been a safe Australian Labor Party seat since 2001, and was the seat of the second Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin.
Law enforcement is overseen from regional police headquarters at the law complex in Dana Street with a single local police station operating in Buninyong. Due to an increase in crime rates and population, two additional local police stations were proposed in 2011 one each for the suburbs of North Ballarat and Sebastopol. Justice is conducted locally overseen through branches of the Supreme, County, Magistrates and Children’s Court of Victoria which operate out of the Ballarat courts Complex adjacent police headquarters in Dana Street. Corrections, at least in the longer term are no longer handled locally since the closure of the Ballarat Gaol in 1965. Offenders can be detained in 25 available cells at the police complex though are commonly transferred to nearby Corrections Victoria facilities such as the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.
Public safety and emergency services are provided by several state funded organisations including local volunteer based organisations. Storms and flooding are handled by the State Emergency Service (SES) Mid West Region Headquarters at Wendouree. Bushfires are handled by the Country Fire Authority District 15 Headquarters and Grampians Region Headquarters at Wendouree and urban structure fires are handled by multiple urban fire brigades operating at fire stations including the Ballarat Fire Brigade at Barkly Street Ballarat East, Ballarat City Fire Brigade at Sturt Street Ballarat Central and suburban stations including Wendouree and Sebastopol. Medical emergency and paramedic services are provided through Ambulance Victoria and include the Rural Ambulance Victoria, St. John Ambulance and Ballarat Base Hospital ambulance services. City of Ballarat is responsible for coordinating the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC) which prepares the Municipal Emergency Management Plan which is actioned in conjunction with local police.
Ballarat has two local newspapers, one owned by Fairfax and one a private equity. The Courier is a daily and The Miner is a free weekly. The latter is distributed across most of the city on Wednesdays and contains news of community events, advertisements for local businesses, real estate and a classifieds section. Ballarat is the HUB of Fairfax Media Victoria’s production and manufacturing with all printed material for the state coming from the Wendouree print site.
Local radio stations include 3BA, Power FM and several community radio stations. There is also a Ballarat branch of ABC Local Radio‘s national network.
- 102.3 FM – 3BA (local “classic hits” commercial radio station)
- 103.1 FM – Power FM 103.1 FM (local “top-40” commercial radio station)
- 99.9 FM – Voice FM 99.9 – formerly known as 3BBB (local community radio station)
- 107.9 FM – ABC Local Radio (government-funded local news, current affairs, light entertainment and talkback)
- 103.9 FM – Good News Radio 103.9 (Christian community-based radio station)
Television station BTV Channel 6 Ballarat commenced transmission of test patterns on 17 March 1962. Among the many local programs BTV6 produced, the 90 minute live variety program Six Tonight (1971–1983), hosted by local Ballarat identity Fred Fargher, was one of the few live Australian programs of this type being presented in Australia.
In his 1999 book And Now Here’s… (Four Decades of Behind the Scenes Fun in Australian Television), Mike McColl Jones fondly remembers local live television variety:
“… and in Ballarat, Victoria, a Tonight show (“Six Tonight”) was carving its name into Australian television history. The show, hosted by Fred Fargher, ran for 13 years, and managed to attract many of the top name entertainers in the world, simply by offering them a limo ride to this beautiful country centre, a no-pressure spot on the show, and then a great dinner afterwards at one of the city’s excellent restaurants. The sheer bravado of the offer enticed some of show business’ biggest names”.
Today Ballarat is serviced by numerous “free to air” High Definition and Standard Definition Digital television services. Two television broadcasting stations are located in the city, including WIN, WIN HD, One and Eleven (sub-licensees of Network Ten) and Prime7, Prime7 HD, 7Two, 7mate, and 7flix (a sub-licensee of Seven Network). These two stations broadcast relayed services throughout regional Victoria. The city also receives Southern Cross Nine, 9HD, 9Gem, 9Go! and 9Life (sub-licensees of the Nine Network) which is based in Bendigo but operates a local office.
Ballarat television maintains a similar schedule to the national television network but maintains local commercials and regional news programmingWIN produces a 30-minute local news bulletin each weeknight from its studios in the city, where bulletins for Albury, Bendigo, Gippsland, Shepparton and Mildura also originate. Southern Cross in conjunction with Nine News produces a 1-hour local news bulletin from its Melbourne studios combining regional, national and international news, screening Monday to Friday nights at 6:00 p.m. In addition to commercial television services, Ballarat receives Government ABC (ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24) and SBS (SBS One and Two) television services.
On 5 May 2011, analog television transmissions ceased in most areas of regional Victoria and some border regions including Ballarat and surrounding areas. All local free-to-air television services are now broadcasting in digital transmission only. This was done as part of the federal government’s plan for digital terrestrial television in Australia, where all analogue transmission systems are gradually turned off and replaced with modern DVB-T transmission systems.
Formerly the University of Ballarat, Federation University Australia was opened in 2014. It originated as the Ballarat School of Mines, founded in 1870, and was once affiliated with the University of Melbourne. The main campus is located in Mount Helen, approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) southeast of the city. The university also has campuses in the Ballarat CBD, Horsham, Churchill, Ararat and Stawell.
The Australian Catholic University’s Ballarat campus is located on Mair Street. It was formerly the Aquinas Training College, run by the Ballarat East Sisters of Mercy in 1909. It is ACU’s only campus located outside of a capital city.
Ballarat has five State Government-operated secondary schools of which Ballarat High School (established in 1907) is the oldest. Ballarat High School and Mount Clear College are the only state school members of the Ballarat Associated Schools. The three remaining schools are Phoenix College and the two newly formed schools Mount Rowan Secondary College and Woodmans Hill Secondary College which emerged from the old Ballarat Secondary College. Phoenix College was formed in 2012 as an amalgamation of Sebastopol College and Redan Primary School.
The city is well serviced by Catholic schools, with eight primary schools and three secondary colleges which include the all-boys St Patrick’s College, the all-girls Loreto College and the co-educational Damascus College, which was formed by the amalgamation of St Martin’s in the Pines, St Paul’s College and Sacred Heart College in 1995.
Ballarat has three other non-government secondary schools: Ballarat Christian College, Ballarat Clarendon College and Ballarat Grammar School.
The later two schools are day and boarding schools who provide education from Preschool to Year 12. Both of these co-educational schools are classified as academically excellent as the only Ballarat schools to be ranked on the tables of the top 100 Victorian schools based on median VCE scores and percentage of scores of 40 and above. In 2015, Clarendon was placed at 9th best VCE results in the State, above Melbourne Grammar, Geelong College, Scotch College, Trinity Grammar School (Victoria), Xavier College, and Haileybury College. Ballarat Grammar was placed at 82nd, above Wesley College, Geelong Grammar and Tintern.
The City of Ballarat has three public libraries, the largest and most extensive of which is the City of Ballarat Library, run by the Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation and located on Doveton Street North. Another library service is provided by the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute in Sturt Street, which is the oldest library in the city and a significant heritage site; it contains a collection of historic, archival and rare reference material as well as more general books.
The newspaper reading room of the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute in 1909
American and Australian soldiers in the reading room of the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute in 1942
Arts and culture
Ballarat is renowned for its cultural heritage and decorative arts, especially applied to the built environment, combined with the gold rush, this has created a picturesque urban landscape.
In 2003 Ballarat was the first of two Australian cities to be registered as a member of the International League of Historical Cities and in 2006 hosted the 10th World League of Historical Cities Congress.
The city’s history is a major focus of the Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History, part of Federation University Australia, and is located at old Ballarat Gaol.
Restoration of historic buildings is encouraged including a low interest council Heritage Loans Scheme. and the prevention of demolition by neglect discouraged by council policies. Since the 1970s, the local council has become increasingly aware of the economic and social value of heritage preservation. This is in stark contrast to the 1950s and 60s when Ballarat followed Melbourne in encouraging the removal of Victorian buildings, verandahs in particular. Recent restoration projects funded by the Ballarat include the reconstruction of significant cast iron lace verandahs including the Mining Exchange, Art Gallery (2007), Mechanics institute (2005–) on Lydiard Street and in 2010 the restoration of the Town Hall and the long neglected Unicorn Hotel façade on Sturt Street.
Ballarat Citizens for Thoughtful Development formed in 1998 and was incorporated as Ballarat Heritage Watch in 2005 to ensure that the city’s architectural heritage is given due consideration in the planning process.
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens (established in 1858) are recognised as the finest example of a regional botanical gardens in Australia and are home to many heritage listed exotic tree species and feature a modern glasshouse and horticultural centre and the Prime Ministers Avenue which features bronze busts of every past Australian Prime Minister.
Ballarat is notable for its very wide boulevards. The main street is Sturt Street and is considered among one of the finest main avenues in Australia with over 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) of central gardens known as the Sturt Street Gardens featuring bandstands, fountains, statues, monuments, memorials and lampposts. Ballarat is home to the largest of a collection of several Avenues of Honour in Victoria. The 15-kilometre-long (9.3-mile) Ballarat Avenue of Honour consists of a total of approximately 4,000 trees, mostly deciduous which in many parts arch completely over the road. Each tree has a bronze plaque dedicated to a soldier from the Ballarat region who enlisted during World War I. The Avenue of Honour and the Arch of Victory are on the Victorian Heritage Register and are seen by approximately 20,000 visitors each year.
The city also has the greatest concentration of public statuary in any Australian city with many parks and streets featuring sculptures and statues dating from the 1860s to the present. Some of the other notable memorials located in the Sturt Street Gardens in the middle of Ballarat’s main boulevard include a bandstand situated in the heart of the city that was funded and built by the City of Ballarat Band in 1913 as a tribute to the bandsmen of the RMS Titanic, a fountain dedicated to the early explorers Burke and Wills, and those dedicated to monarchs and those who have played pivotal roles in the development of the city and its rich social fabric.
Ballarat has an extensive array of significant war memorials, the most recent of which is the Australian Ex Prisoner of War Memorial. The most prominent memorial in the city is the Ballarat Victory Arch that spans the old Western Highway on the Western approaches of the city. The archway serves as the focal point for the Avenue of Honour. Other significant individual monuments located along Sturt Street include those dedicated to the Boer War (1899–1901), the World War II (1939–1945) cenotaph, and Vietnam (1962–1972) (located adjacent to the Arch of Victory).
Commercial and civic buildings
The legacy of the wealth generated during Ballarat’s gold boom is still visible in a large number of fine stone buildings in and around the city, especially in the Lydiard Street area. This precinct contains some of Victoria’s finest examples of Victorian era buildings, many of which are on the Victorian Heritage Register or classified by the National Trust of Australia.
Notable civic buildings include the Town Hall (1870–72), the former Post Office (1864), the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (1887), the Mechanics’ Institute (1860, 1869), the Queen Victoria Wards of the Ballarat Base Hospital (1890s) and the Ballarat railway station (1862, 1877, 1888).
Other historic buildings include the Provincial Hotel (1909), Reid’s Coffee Palace (1886), Craig’s Royal Hotel (1862–1890) and Her Majesty’s Theatre (1875), the oldest intact and operating lyric theatre in Australia and Ballarat Fire Station (1864, 1911) one of Victoria’s oldest fire fighting structures and the Jewish synagogue (1861) the oldest surviving synagogue on the Australian mainland.
The Ballarat Fine Art Gallery houses one of Australia’s oldest and most extensive collections of early Australian works. It is considered to have the best Australian collection outside any capital city in Australia.
Events and festivals
Ballarat is home to many annual festivals and events that attract thousands of visitors. The oldest large annual event is the Ballarat Agricultural Show (since 1859), currently held at the Ballarat Showgrounds and has attracted attendances of up to 30,000 and is an official public holiday for residents of the city.
Lake Wendouree is featured in many including the biggest and most prominent is the Begonia Festival (held annually since 1953). SpringFest (held annually since 2001) attracts more than 15,000 people from around Victoria and features market stalls and activities around the lake.
The controversial Ballarat Swap Meet (formerly the Super Southern Swap Meet and held annually since 1989) attracts 30,000 visitors a year. Ballarat Heritage Weekend (held annually since 2006) celebrates the city’s heritage with activities such as historic vehicles and displays in and around the CBD and has attracted as many as 14,500 visitors a year from around Victoria. The Ballarat Beer Festival at the City Oval (since 2012) has attracted more than 4,000 visitors. The Ballarat Airport Open Day (Ballarat’s unofficial air show, held annually since 2009) also attracts thousands.
Other minor cultural festivals include the Ballarat Writers Festival, Ballarat International Foto Biennialle and the Goldfields Music Festival.
Ballarat has a lively and well established theatrical community with several local ensembles as well as a number of large performing arts venues. Major performing arts venues include:
- Her Majesty’s Theatre – Seating 940
- Post Office Box Theatre (Federation University Australia Arts Academy, Camp Street Campus) – Flexible Seating up to 100
- Helen Macpherson Smith Performing Arts Theatre (Federation University Australia, Arts Academy Camp Street Campus) – Seating 200
- The 1870 Founders Theatre (Federation University Australia, Mount Helen Campus) – Seating 600
- The Courthouse Theatre (Federation University Australia, SMB Campus) – Seating 140
- The Victoria Theatre (Sovereign Hill) – Seating 300
- Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts (Ballarat Grammar School) – Seating 900
- Gay E. Gough Theatre (Mount Clear Secondary College) – Seating 350
- Mechanics Institute hall (seating 700) is used from time to time for travelling performances and cinema shows.
- Mary’s Mount Theatre (Loreto College Ballarat) – Seating 500
The Ballarat Civic Hall is a large public building constructed in 1958 as a general purpose venue. Its stripped classical design was heavily criticised during its planning, however it has gained some cultural significance to the city with its cavernous spaces holding many significant events over the years. Civic Hall was closed in 2002 and there have been moves to redevelop it for many years with some calls to retain the building as a venue.
Ballarat has its own symphony orchestra, the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra which was formed in 1987. Some notable theatre organisations in Ballarat include BLOC (Ballarat Light Opera Company) founded in 1959. Ballarat is also the home to Australia’s oldest and largest annual performing arts eisteddfod. The Royal South Street Eisteddfod is an all-encompassing performing arts festival and competition event that is conducted over twelve weeks annually.
In the 1970s the Ballarat urban area contained no less than 60 hotels. The introduction of gaming machines in the early 1990s has brought about significant change in the city entertainment precincts. By 2006 at least 20 hotels had closed and some of those that remain have been redeveloped as dining and/or gaming venues. Gaming machines have brought significant revenue to the remaining hotels, sports and social clubs which has enabled many to expand and modernise. The city has several dance clubs as well as a highly active live music and jazz scene. Hotels are popular meeting places for young people. The city has many fine restaurants, wine bars and eateries as well as themed restaurants. A large cinema complex consisting of several theatres is located behind the façade of the old Regent cinemas in the heart of the city. Dance parties are popular within the Ballarat area; BTR is an organisation founded in 2006 that has begun hosting dance events in Ballarat.
Music and live entertainment
Ballarat has a significant music scene and a number of established music venues. Ballarat has produced several note worthy bands and musicians. Notable musicians from Ballarat include composer and violinist Warren Ellis, and alternative bands The Mavis’s, Epicure, Anticline and The Dead Salesmen.
Sport and recreation
Ballarat has a number of large parks, sport fields, organised sporting clubs and associations. Australian rules football and cricket are the most popular spectator and participation sports in Ballarat, while soccer, basketball, Rugby league football, netball, horse racing and rowing have large followings. There are stadiums, both indoor and outdoor as well as training facilities for most sports. Eureka Stadium had a change of name in early 2017, Eureka stadium is now known as Mars Stadium. It has hosted a hand full of AFL matches the past 2 years.
Australian rules football is played at semi-professional and amateur levels with a large number of players at numerous venues, both dedicated such as Mars Stadium and shared with cricket. The North Ballarat Roosters based out of Mars Stadium formerly competed in the Victorian Football League. The Western Bulldogs AFL Club play pre-seasonal and two seasonal home games at the Mars Stadium. The Ballarat Football League (founded 1893) is a strong regional league of which there are 6 local teams (Ballarat, EastPoint, Redan, Sebastopol, Lake Wendouree and North Ballarat City). The Ballarat Football Club (founded 1860) remains one of the oldest football clubs in the world. Other city teams from Buninyong and immediately North of Ballarat compete in the regional Central Highlands Football League.
Rugby league football Is a growing sport in the region. Their club The Ballarat Dragons Rugby League Football Club is an Australian rugby league football club based in Ballarat, Victoria. They conduct teams for both junior, senior and women tag teams. Previously known as Ballarat Highlanders competing in the Melbourne Rugby League. The club rebranded in 2005 to be known as the Dragons after the Central Highlands Rugby League was established.
Horse racing and greyhound racing are popular, with dedicated facilities. The Harness Racing centre is considered to be among the best in Australia. The Ballarat Turf Club schedules around 28 race meetings a year including the Ballarat Cup meeting in mid-November. Ballarat Harness Racing Club conducts regular meetings at its racetrack in the city.
The Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club holds regular meetings at Sebastopol.
Basketball is played at various levels with the Ballarat Miners and Ballarat Rush competing in the South East Australian Basketball League and playing out of the MARS Minerdome. Netball is similarly popular, with many netball clubs affiliated with local Australian rules clubs including Wendouree, East Point, Eureka, North Ballarat, Redan, Brown Hill and the Ballarat Netball Association. Rowing and kayaking is centred on Lake Wendouree and the sport is particularly popular with the high schools. The lake hosts the Victorian Schools Rowing Championships as well as the annual “Head of the Lake” rowing regatta—contested by Ballarat High School, Ballarat and Clarendon College, Ballarat Grammar School, St Patrick’s College and Loreto College. The city hosted rowing events for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Association Football (known locally as soccer) is mostly played at an amateur level. The local competition is known as the , which consists of 13 teams. The Ballarat Red Devils are the biggest soccer club in Ballarat and play in the FFV National Premier League Victoria 1 West. Their home ground is Morshead Park Stadium, located in the suburb of Redan, which was recently significantly redeveloped.
Athletics facilities include an international standard athletics track at Llanberris Reserve on York Street Golden Point which is an Athletics Victoria venue and home to local athletics and little athletics clubs. Swimming and water sport is facilitated at two Olympic-sized pools as well as an indoor 25-metre (82-foot) competition short course pool. The main facility is the Ballarat Aquatic Centre located at Gillies Street Lake Gardens in the city’s west. Baseball was first organised in Australia at Ballarat in 1857. The Alfredton Eagles, Ballarat City Brewers and Mounties YC field teams in the Geelong Baseball Association Winter Division.
Golf is played at four main venues which include the Ballarat Golf Course on Sturt Street in the Easter suburb of Alfredton, home to the Ballarat Golf Club; the Midlands Golf Course on Heinz Lane in the northern suburb of Invermay Park which is home to the Midlands Golf Club; the Eureka Golf Course at Elford Street in the eastern suburb of Ballarat East and in the southern suburb of Buninyong at the Buninyong Golf Course.
The Ballarat Roller Derby League was formed in 2008, and held their first match in 2009. They have two teams who compete in local events, and a combined travelling team, the Rat Pack, who compete in interleague roller derby competitions. Lake Wendouree is a large recreational lake that was created out of former wetlands and hosted the rowing events for the 1956 Summer Olympics. Victoria Park is an expansive reserve with tree-lined avenues and sporting fields in suburban Newington. The suburbs feature some privately run wildlife parks including Ballarat Wildlife Park in Ballarat East and Ballarat Bird World in Buninyong.
Ballarat has inspired many visual artists. Eugene von Guerard documented the city’s establishment as a gold digging settlement, while Albert Henry Fullwood and Knut Bull depicted the city’s boom era streetscapes. Ballarat features prominently in literature and fiction, including “The Boscombe Valley Mystery“, a short story from Arthur Conan Doyle‘s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891); King Billy of Ballarat and Other Stories (1892) by Morley Roberts; The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1917) by Henry Handel Richardson; Murder on the Ballarat Train (1993) by Kerry Greenwood; and Illywhacker (1985) by Peter Carey.
Ballarat is also a popular filming location. Australia’s second oldest feature film, Eureka Stockade (1907), is the first in a line of films about the historic Ballarat event. The city makes cameos in Dogs in Space (1986), My Brother Jack (2001), Ned Kelly (2003) and The Writer (2005). The television series The Doctor Blake Mysteries (2012–2017) is set in Ballarat and also mostly shot there. The series was picked by the Seven Network, which proposes to make several telemovies without the Blake character, picking up the story line after his death, leaving his widow Jean.
A great many notable people’s origins are in the Ballarat region, with the most prominent being high-ranking politicians and sportspeople.
Several former prime ministers of Australia were either born in or lived in Ballarat, and this was recognised by the city’s Prime Minister’s Avenue. Alfred Deakin, the second prime minister, was the first federal parliament MP for Ballarat. Sir Robert Menzies, and James Scullin were both educated in Ballarat. John Curtin was born in nearby Creswick and his wife Elsie was born in Ballarat. Several premiers of the Australian states were born in Ballarat, including Ballarat born Sir Henry Bolte, Steve Bracks, Thomas Hollway, and Henry Daglish. Additionally Duncan Gillies lived in and represented Ballarat in the Victorian Legislative Assembly before becoming state premier.
An additional political activist included Francis William Hyet is trade unionist and born in Ballarat. He was heavily inclined towards socialism which became a calling for his way of life. He became involved with the Social Democratic Party in 1905 and following the Victorian Socialist Party in 1906. Hyett was a very prominent in the anti-conscription campaign. He was able to harness the union’s newspaper which became a medium for the anti-conscriptionists.
Outside politics other prominent public figures include Peter Lalor, a notable historical figure in Australia as the leader of the Eureka Rebellion (1854) and a parliamentarian; the inventor George Alfred Julius, who spent part of his childhood there when his father was a local Anglican cleric; the inventor Henry Sutton was born and worked in Ballarat; and Cardinal George Pell, the former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney was born in Ballarat and worked in the area for some time.
(1824–1911), Ballarat pioneer, Responsible for the founding of; the Ballarat Fine At gallery and many of the works exhibited within inc, Ballarat’s tent city in the summer of 1853–1854 oil painting from an original sketch by Eugene von Guerard, also principal founder of the Ballarat botanical gardens, first chairman of the Ballarat Municipal Council in 1856-58. built and equipped the Mount Pleasant Observatory. erected the Peter Lalor statue at the cost of £2200 in the main street of Ballarat. are amongst some of his achievements.
Ballarat has also produced many notable athletes including the Olympic long distance runner Steve Moneghetti and four time Olympic basketball player Ray Borner. A large number of notable Australian rules football identities have come from Ballarat, including Australian Football Hall of Fame members Tony Lockett and Bob Davis.
In addition, Henry Sutton was an inventor from Ballarat. Sutton designed an electric continuous current dynamo with a practical ring armature. This design could be used as an electric motor and the rapid incline of the electrical industry followed. Sutton was involved in devising and constructing different telephone designs. Sutton interacted closely with Bell (the inventor of the telephone), Bell came to visit Sutton in order to see a complete telephone system that was set up in Sutton’s family warehouse.
Ballarat has two major hospitals. The public health services are managed by Ballarat Health Services including the Ballarat Base which services the entire region and the Queen Elizabeth Centre for aged care on Ascot Street Sth. The St John of God Health Care centre also on Drummond Street Nth, established in 1915 is currently the largest private hospital in regional Victoria.
The Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC) on the corner of Drummond and Sturt Street includes a number of facilities focused on cancer treatment.
The Heart Foundation did a study in 2014 that Ballarat had the highest level of physical inactivity (85.3 per cent) in Australia and that 32.9 per cent of residents were deemed obese.
Ballarat’s residents are serviced by a wide range of public utilities including water, gas and electricity, telephony and data communications supplied, overseen and regulated by state based authorities and private enterprise and local council.
Water supply as well as sewage collection and disposal are provided by Central Highlands Water. Drinking water is sourced from a network reservoirs all located in the highlands to the east, however the majority is sourced from two main reservoirs—Lal Lal and White Swan. The Lal Lal Reservoir (built in 1970 with a capacity of 59,500 megalitres (1.57×1010 US gallons)) is Ballarat’s largest water catchment accounting for approximately two thirds of the city’s water usage. The White Swan reservoir (built in 1952 with a 14,100 Ml (3.7×109 US gal) capacity) supplies most of the remainder. Since May 2008, the White Swan has been topped up by water from Bendigo’s Sandhurst Reservoir through the Goldfields Superpipe with water originally sourced from the Goulburn River system. Kirks Reservoir (built between 1860 and 1862 with a capacity of 400 Ml (110,000,000 US gal)) and Gong Gong Reservoir (built in 1877 at Gong Gong, Victoria with a capacity of 1,902 Ml (502,000,000 US gal)) are historic main water supplies now maintained for emergency use. Other reservoirs supplying Ballarat include Moorabool reservoir (located in Bolwarrah, Victoria with a capacity of 6,738 Ml (1.780×109 US gal)), Wilson’s Reservoir (located in the Wombat State Forest with a capacity of 1,013 Ml (268,000,000 US gal)), Beales reservoir (built 1863 located at Wallace with a capacity of 415 Ml (110,000,000 US gal)) and Pincotts reservoir (built 1867 located at Leigh Creek, Victoria with a capacity of 218 Ml (58,000,000 US gal)). Sewage is managed by two plants—the Ballarat North Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Ballarat South Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Telephone services are provided via the Doveton Street (BRAT) telephone exchange which was originally built by the Australian Telecommunications Commission (now known as Telstra) who remains its owner, though Optus now also operates services from this facility. The city’s cellular network currently uses Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS). Telstra has provided mobile telecommunications to Ballarat since 2003 (initially as CDMA). Optus provided competition with its entrance to the market in 2003 along with significant service upgrades in 2004 followed by Vodafone in mid-2009.
Data communications are provided by several companies. Telstra was the first company to provide dial-up Internet access via the Ballarat exchange, however the first network for broadband Internet access available in the city was a hybrid optical fiber cable and coaxial cable built by Neighbourhood Cable in 2001. Since then, Telstra and Optus have entered the Ballarat market, providing Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) services for residential Internet access from four main exchanges—Ballarat, Wendouree (Howitt Street), Sebastopol (Skipton Street) and Alfredton (Cuthberts Road). These companies also provide mobile data access Evolved HSPA and since late 2011 3GPP Long Term Evolution (4G). Ballarat’s rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is seen as vital for the city’s growing IT industry. During Ballarat’s first stage NBN rollout in 2012, 17,800 homes will be directly connected to the network via optical fibre cable.
Road transport and the motor vehicle is the main form of transport. A network of state highways radiate from Ballarat and the Western Freeway (A8) is dual carriageway bypasses the central city to the north of the urban area, providing a direct road connection to Melbourne (approximately 90 minutes), westward to Ararat (approximately 75 minutes) and Horsham. Five freeway interchanges service the urban area, East Ballarat (half diamond) interchange at Victoria Street (C805); Brown Hill interchange (full diamond) at Daylesford-Ballarat Road (C292), Creswick Road interchange (full diamond) at Wendouree (A300); the Mount Rowan interchange (half diamond) at Gillies Road, Wendouree (C307) and the Mitchell Park interchange (full diamond) at Howe Street (C287). The Midland Highway is a dual carriageway which runs north along Creswick Road to the Western Freeway interchange but becomes a single carriageway north of Ballarat to Creswick (approximately 25 minutes) and runs south as the dual carriageway of Skipton Road to Magpie before becoming a single carriageway to Geelong (approximately 87 minutes). The Glenelg Highway connects directly to Mount Gambier and the Sunraysia Highway west of Ballarat which connects directly to Mildura.
Sturt Street and Victoria Street, both dual carriageways carry the bulk of the east-west CBD traffic, while Mair Street is planned to become a four lane dual carriageway to relieve pressure on these main streets. Other dual carriageway main roads in the west include Howitt Street and Gillies Street. The busiest roads by far are located in the west and south at Albert Street in Redan, Sturt Street in Newington and Gillies Street in Lake Gardens which carry 22,400, 22,000 and 21,500 vehicles per day respectively and all have 4 traffic lanes.
Bus, coach and taxi
Ballarat is also served by an extensive public bus service operated by CDC Ballarat. They operate 15 routes across the city, routes 10–15, 20–26, 30 & 31, and school bus services..
- Route 10—Ballarat Station – Alfredton via Wendouree
- Route 11—Ballarat Station – Wendouree Station via Howitt St
- Route 12—Ballarat Station – Wendouree Station via Forest St
- Route 13—Ballarat Station – Invermay Park
- Route 14—Ballarat Station – Black Hill
- Route 15—Ballarat Station – Brown Hill
- Route 20—Ballarat Station – Canadian
- Route 21—Ballarat Station – Buninyong via Federation University
- Route 22—Ballarat Station – Federation University via Sebastopol
- Route 23—Ballarat Station – Mount Pleasant
- Route 24—Ballarat Station – Sebastopol
- Route 25—Ballarat Station – Delacombe
- Route 26—Ballarat Station – Alfredton
- Route 30—Ballarat Station – Creswick
- Route 31—Wendouree Station – Miners Rest
Numerous private companies service suburban, intercity and interstate routes with coach services. Gold Bus provides additional suburban services as well as the Ballarat School Bus Network. Ballarat railway station is a major regional terminal for coach services. V/Line operates direct services to regional Victorian locations including Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Warrnambool, Mildura, Nhill, Ouyen, Halls Gap, Daylesford, Maryborough as well as the South Australian cities of Adelaide and Mount Gambier. Gold Bus operates direct regional services to links to both Avoca and Maryborough, while Sandlants operates a direct service to Stawell. There is also a direct bus service to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport with the Ballarat Airport Shuttlebus. Interstate coaches from Greyhound Australia and Firefly Express coaches stop at Ballarat on route between Melbourne and Adelaide. The local taxi fleet consists of over 57 vehicles services in all suburbs and is currently operated by Ballarat Taxis Co-op Ltd. Taxis, Uber and bus are the only late night public transport option in the city. Uber launched in Ballarat at 2pm on 25 October 2017 and operates throughout the whole city.
Ballarat has historically been a major rail transport hub in Victoria, situated at the junction of the Ballarat line, Ararat line and Mildura lines it currently has several connections for both passenger rail services and freight rail.
The city has two passenger railway stations, the hub of Ballarat railway station and suburban Wendouree railway station. From Ballarat station, V/Line operates VLocity trains running at up to 160 km/h (99 mph) east to Melbourne, west to Ararat and north to Maryborough. Since the controversial removal of “flagship” express services in 2011, successive timetable changes have slowed peak hour services to Southern Cross, with the current journey taking a minimum of 73 minutes. Patronage however has continued to grow. The Regional Rail Link project was built to separate Ballarat trains from Melbourne’s suburban rail network. It was completed in June 2015 and Interurban services (Ballarat-Melbourne) now run half-hourly during weekday peak and hourly during weekday non-peak and on weekends from Ballarat station. A twice daily (thrice daily on weekdays) (57 minute) service connects Ballarat to Ararat (stopping at Beaufort) while there is a (53 minute) service to and from Maryborough (stopping at Creswick, Clunes, and Talbot) once a day (twice a day on weekdays) each way. Victoria’s electronic ticketing system, Myki, was implemented on rail services between Wendouree and Melbourne on 24 July 2013.
Ballarat is connected to Geelong by rail via the Geelong-Ballarat railway line, which currently operates only for freight (passenger services were withdrawn in 1978) although in 2011, a planning study began for returning of passenger services along the line to investigate connecting both cities to Bendigo via Maryborough and Castlemaine. There are also several disused railway corridors and stations along the Skipton railway, Buninyong railway. A former branch line built in 1886 to Redan was sold off by VicTrack and finally dismantled in 2010. The freight line forked off the Singleton line at Lake Gardens running south through Alfredton and then east parallel to Latrobe Street, past the Cattle yards and on to Redan (now Delacombe).
The once extensive Ballarat tramway network operated between 1887 and 1971 with a small section of remaining track being utilised as a tourist and museum tramway. There have been proposals to extend the network, particularly as a major tourist facility but also to connect it to the railways and return it as a viable component of the Ballarat public transport system, including a strong lobby in 2001–2002, 2010–11 and 2014, however Ballarat City Council and federal member of parliament have dismissed recent proposals.
Ballarat Airport located 8 km (5 mi) north-west of the CBD consists of two sealed runways (each approximately 1,400 m (4,600 ft) long and 30 m (98 ft) wide) as well as extensive sealed aprons, night lighting and NDB navaid. A Master Plan for the Aerodrome was completed in 2005 followed by an Airport Master Plan in 2013. The report made a series of recommendations and forecasts that included eventual lengthening, widening and strengthening of the existing main runway up to 1,800 metres (5,900 feet), consideration for expansion of the passenger terminal and recommendations for future use of aprons and development of future structures supporting larger aircraft and increased frequent usage. It was forecast that by 2012–2015 regular domestic passenger services using 40–50 seat commuter aircraft could feasibly commence.
Ballarat has a long history of cycling as a form of transport and recreation. The current cycling network continues to grow and consists of several marked on-road routes and 50 kilometres (31 miles) of segregated bicycle facilities including several main routes:Ballarat–Skipton Rail Trail, Yarrowee River Trail with connections to the Gong Gong Reservoir. Buningyong Trail, Sebastopol Trail, and the Lake Wendouree shared path. The Ballarat Bicycle Users Group provides advocacy for the growing number of cyclists in the city. The popularity of cycling in Ballarat is also demonstrated by the large number of spectators and participants drawn to cycling sporting events held in the city.
Recently, Vicroads released a cycling and walking plan with more than 12 km of path that will pass through the CBD, Sturt St and a dedicated route along the Wendouree rail corridor. Ballarat has been identified as one of 30 high-priority areas in need of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure improvements to improve safety and encourage active transport. The Victorian Government will investing $9.3 million for the project to allow people to get around town.
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