Wander back in time at an historical village, have a close encounter with a meerkat, or explore a sensory garden – these eight Ballarat attractions promise to keep the kids entertained.
Whether you need to fill an hour, or want to dedicate an entire day to kid-friendly activities, Ballarat has a few tricks up its sleeve. From fun yet educational experiences to pure recreation, these eight attractions are sure to keep busy minds and restless little bodies occupied.
Ballarat Wildlife Park
This highly rated, family-run wildlife park is set among hectares of natural bushland and home to 100 free-roaming kangaroos. You’ll find a few exotic creatures here (hello tigers, penguins and meerkats) but the focus is largely on native Aussie wildlife, such as wombats, dingoes, koalas, snakes and Tasmanian devils. Roll up to one of the many daily presentations, or book an ‘animal encounter’ and get some one-on-one time with the likes of a koala, giant tortoise or wombat.
Cost: Adult tickets cost $35, children’s tickets (aged 5-15 years old) cost $19.50, and a family ticket (two adults and up to four children) costs $95.
Step back into the 1850s at Sovereign Hill – a multi-award-winning open-air museum that earns as many plaudits from adults as it does the little ones accompanying them. This immersive attraction is set across a 25-hectare site (equivalent to the size of some 13 MCGs), and plays host to more than 60 historically recreated brick and timber buildings decked out with antiques, artwork, books and papers. It’s also staffed by costumed actors who can answer your historical questions and pose for photos.
Kids will adore all the interactive features. Pick up your licence and pan for real gold in a meandering creek; take a ride on a horse-pulled coach or carriage; try your hand at old-fashioned boiled sweet making or candle dipping; pay a visit to one of the workshops that spotlight older trades, such as blacksmith and coachbuilder; or journey deep below the ground and get a glimpse into what life was really like for the intrepid miners that descended upon Victoria’s goldfields in the 1800s.
Even the snacks are ‘on brand’ with wood-fired, oven-baked pies, pasties and sausage rolls available. It’s definitely worth putting aside an entire day to see all that Sovereign Hill has to offer, and the attraction can accommodate those who have additional accessibility needs
Cost: Adult tickets cost $39, children’s tickets $20, and a family of four, five or six is priced at $99. Bookings must be made online.
The kooky attraction you never knew you needed, Kryal Castle is a replica medieval castle with a number of different activities on offer: kids can try their hand at archery at the indoor range, find their way through the stone maze, take in a show at the jester’s theatre, or watch on as knights in full armour face off in trials of jousting on horseback and foot combat. You can even stay overnight in one of the castle suites.
Cost: General admission is priced at $35 for adults and $22 for kids.
Eureka Aquatic Centre
Get the kids active at the Eureka Aquatic Centre. Summer days are best spent splashing around in the centre’s three outdoor pools (a heated 50-metre pool, a learn to swim pool, and a shaded toddlers pool) in the outdoor water play park with its sprinklers and fountains, or even the centre’s playground. Post-swim, relax in the shaded areas that line the poolside or visit the neighbouring Eureka Stockade park.
Cost: $5 per adult, $4.20 per child (aged 5-16 years old), $15 for a family; kids under five enter free.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat
Bigger kids with a penchant for the arts might take a liking to The Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Established in 1884, it’s the oldest and largest regional art gallery in Australia, and plays host to a permanent collection (admission free) as well as a number of temporary exhibitions, some of which carry a separate charge.
Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground
Located on the banks of lovely Lake Wendouree, and just across the road from the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, lies the Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground. A small, castle-like structure, it features slides, several different kinds of swings, monkey bars, forts, climbing structures, tunnels, and more. Once you’ve exhausted the playground’s assets, take one of the walking tracks around the lake, which is home to ducks and swans.
See also: Livvi’s Place Ballarat, a vast and inclusive playspace that offers all abilities access to play equipment, including a water play space, flying foxes, sand play equipment and even musical instruments.
Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Ballarat’s sprawling green lung, the botanical gardens cover some 40 hectares and were added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 2010. Kids will love to run around on the lush green lawns (also a great place for a summer family picnic), or wander among the vivid seasonal floral displays hosted in the Robert Clark Conservatory. Encourage interactive learning within the Sensory Garden, which is designed to stimulate the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch with its diverse range of plants, all chosen especially for their unique texture, colour or scent. The Ballarat Botanical Gardens website even has its own guide to all the species you might encounter along the way.
Gold Rush Mini Golf
Home to two themed (and licensed) 18-hole courses, Gold Rush Mini Golf is a good spot to mop up some free time together as a family. There’s both an indoor and an outdoor course. The former is named the ‘Lost World’ and is an eclectic mish-mash of the Jurassic period and the Middle Ages, the latter is modelled on Ballarat’s gold rush history and features worn timber facades, props and Ballarat streetscapes. There’s also arcade games on site.
For more great travel tips and itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Ballarat holidays.