A boom town of the Victorian goldrush era and today one of Victoria’s fast-growing regional cities, Ballarat continues to bloom featuring at no.24 on your list of Top 50 Aussie Towns.
Find the complete list of the Top 50 Aussie Towns here.
A 75-minute drive west of Melbourne, Ballarat was voted Victoria’s top tourism town in 2021 and is recognised as a UNESCO creative city. Its rich culture of artisans and dynamic culinary offerings tucked into reinvented goldrush buildings is a winning formula for a long weekend of wining, dining and soaking in the new wave of creativity that taps into the city’s past.
Ballarat’s CBD is characterised by its grand goldrush buildings. (Image: Tara Moore)
A place in constant evolution, newcomers on the scene include pop-up restaurant Peasant, open Friday and Saturday evenings for just a few diners at a time in Ballarat’s historic Bank of New South Wales, and serving a five-course degustation of rustic European fare.
Eat rustic fare at Peasant.
Meanwhile chef Derek Boath’s Underbar, Ballarat’s destination restaurant since it opened in 2016, is relocating to brand-new boutique digs at Hotel Vera (sister property to Bendigo’s Hotel Ernest).
And in the CBD spot it has vacated, Boath and sommelier Anthony Schuurs have created a sharp and fun urban wine bar, Pencilmark Wine Room, where an ever-changing roster of global drops are matched with fresh regional produce.
Browse the bottles at Pencilmark Wine Room. (Image: Thom Mitchell)
Further emphasising Ballarat’s ongoing revitalisation, a major development and refurbishment of an 1863 heritage-listed bluestone building adjacent to the Ballarat railway station was unveiled at the start of 2022.
The Goods Shed now acts as a social, cultural and hospitality hub; its most recent additions include a gin distillery, Little Lon Distilling Co, an all-day dining outpost, a dumpling house and Quest Ballarat Station, an of-its-place hotel to complete the ‘eat, play, stay’ experience.
The Goods Shed signals the Victorian city’s ongoing revitalisation.
Time your visit for the spring-summer season of artisan producer experiences, Made of: Ballarat. Picks of the bunch include the Secret Life of Bees with Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat, which runs on selected dates from October to February and will take you on a hands-on journey through a working honey beehive in the heart of the city.
Or take a trip 20 minutes out of town to Buninyong on Wadawurrung Country to embark on an Australian bushfoods adventure with Saltbush Kitchen. Also in late spring, the Australian Centre for Rare Arts & Forgotten Trades will open to offer workshops and masterclasses to those looking to learn everything from woodcarving and locksmithing to armoury and leatherwork.
You’ll find pockets of creativity everywhere around town. (Image: Tara Moore)