In the 1850s, Victoria and Melbourne exploded with wealth after gold was discovered in Ballarat. The fields surrounding these towns were Australia's richest and transformed Victoria into the most affluent state in Australia at the time. Steeped in gold rush history, Ballarat is home to a wide range of attractions including beautifully resorted buildings such as Ballarat's Town Hall, Her Majesty's Theatre and Craig's Hotel. Another iconic sight is the Avenue of Honour, a grand 22km boulevard commemorating local soldiers who served in WWI.
The Eureka Stockade Centre offers interactive displays detailing the history and uprising, and nearby Sovereign Hill provides a fascinating insight into old mining towns. A living open-air museum, Sovereign Hill is located in Golden Point and depicts the first ten years after the discovery of gold in Ballarat from 1851. Recreating life as it was over 100 years ago, the complex is situated on 25 hectares linked to the world’s richest alluvial gold rush. Home to 60 historically reproduced buildings, costumed staff complete the atmosphere.
Complete with artwork, antiques, papers and books, carriages, machinery, animals and livestock all appropriate to the era, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities including panning for gold. Tours are also available, taking in an old gold mine and the award-winning sound and light show 'Blood on the Southern Cross' is also staged here. When you’ve had your fill of history, there are also a number of natural attractions in Ballarat including the 200 hectare Lake Wendouree. An oasis of birdlife, the lake plays an important role in Ballarat’s ecosystem and once hosted rowing events in the 1956 Olympic Games. Nearby, the Botanical Gardens are also home to lawns, fernery, a floral conservatory and an avenue of bronze busts of Australian prime ministers. A charming vintage electric tramway also operates between the gardens and lake foreshore.