10 Must-Do Adventures in Ballarat, Australia | About Australia

10 Must-Do Adventures In Ballarat, Australia

Posted on: August 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 3

Australia’s Gold Rush: Halls Gap to Melbourne

Empty your pockets. When traveling through Ballarat, you’ll need the extra space for gold.

In our Amazing Australia Road Trips Pt. 2, we went over 13 great adventures in the Grampians. Now we’ll head back to Melbourne after an epic Great Ocean Road adventure, but there’s still many treasures to discover on this leg of the trip.

You might even find actual gold!

Between Halls Gap and Melbourne is a region rich in Australia’s gold rush history, including the goldfields of Ballarat.

From a spectacular local food and art scene rivaling Melbourne’s and a splendid heritage backdrop, Ballarat is the perfect stop to enjoy the finer things in life.

Here are 10 adventures in Ballarat and surrounds to end your Australia road trip with a bang.

Hang Around Halls Gap for Breakfast

Breakfast at Harvest Halls Gap

After downing a few cups of Joe throughout your travels in Australia, you’ll know there’s something special about Aussie coffee.

Fuel up for the day at Harvest, where the coffee maintains the Aussie standard of excellence. Fresh ingredients create a stellar breakfast menu highlighting the amazing local produce of the Grampians.

Favorites include the Bubble & Squeak (poached eggs and ham off the bone on a bed of potato and vegetable hash) and zesty corn fritters.

Harvest is a warm and inviting spot. Almost as good as a Melbourne cafe with much lovelier staff. Good food and would recommend the aptly named Bubble n Squeak.Janelle Galea

I’m a serious coffee snob, long black, hot n strong no sugar. So to my shock the coffee at Harvest was simply superb. I highly recommend this beautiful quaint little cafe on the edge of Halls Gap… the staff are amazing and ready to share their knowledge of the area from walks to wineries and more. The food was great and I’ll miss this little cafe. It would be awesome if it were to become your local. Check it out soon.Tony Meehan

See the Gold Rush Opulence of Ballarat on a Heritage Walk

Town Hall Ballarat

After driving about two hours on the Western Highway from Halls Gap you’ll cross paths with Ballarat.

The Australian gold boom of the 1850’s completely transformed this small sheep station to a major town, now the third largest inland city in Australia.

As you travel closer to the heart of the city, the legacy of Ballarat’s gold rush becomes evident in the magnificent Victorian and Edwardian buildings lining the streets.

Stretch your legs after your drive and take on the heritage walking trails winding through the central heritage precinct.

You’ll find some of Australia’s most beautifully preserved colonial architecture such as the impressive Town Hall and Craig’s Royal Hotel in in Lydiard Street and historic monuments and statues along Sturt Street.

It was my great experience to see inside the Ballarat town hall during a heritage week. Loved all the decorations and all furniture back in gold era. I hope the council will keep the Victorian vibe in the hall and won’t put too much urbanism into our old town hall.Jolt Media

Explore the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Step into the serenity of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, where rows of red, yellow and pink begonias decorate verdant lawns dotted with classical statues.

Towering trees providing ample shade along paved trails lead to the Robert Clark Conservatory. Here you’ll find the setting out of something in a wedding planner magazine.

Hydrangeas, fuchsias and pelargoniums bloom into a spectacle of purple, pink and red hues in the summer, while autumn boasts a gorgeous begonia display.

Walk down Prime Ministers Avenue past bronze busts honoring Australia’s past prime ministers, adding a unique historical touch to the gardens.

Wander through the carefully landscaped lawns and find Victorian marble statues from Italy placed throughout the gardens.

A highlight is the Sensory Garden, an interactive space where you can touch and smell different plants.

Best place to hang out or enjoy a morning walk. Green house is warm for having a break after run or exercise. This historical garden will give you about Ballarat in the past and so many kinds of plants. Marble Statues are amazingly beautiful. Just come to see something green. On weekend you can enjoy a farmer market along the lake, too.Hugo Krystal

Taste Your Way Through Ballarat’s Growing Food Scene

Meigas Spanish Tapas Ballarat

From authentic Spanish tapas to cozy cafes with exciting menus, Ballarat’s food scene will delight any foodie.

There’s no end to the delicious eateries featuring local produce – an unspoken requirement you’ll find throughout its restaurants.

Grab a slice of some of the region’s best pizza at The Forge Pizzeria. This local favorite delights in crafting unique pizzas. Think slow roasted pork, gorgonzola dolce and green apple slaw on your pie, or woodfired roast pumpkin, goats cheese and pine nuts. Definitely a must for any adventurous eater.

Relish in the colorful Spanish atmosphere at Meigas, where the tapas pack incredible flavors in every bite.

Never have I expect to find food this good outside of Melbourne. Yes if you look at the menu, it look kinda expensive but the serving size is very generous and it is worth every cents. The octopus was tender and seasoned just right with the paprika. The Lamb skewers, the meat is tender, slightly pink in the inside, the sauce to dip with is wonderful. Oh that beef cheek, you don’t need a knife to cut it. It is soft. The sauce and the mash underneath complement it perfectly. Overall all the food are perfect. Beside the food, the atmosphere, the deco and the service are excellent. Even we were sitting by the window, the waiter and waitress came by pretty often, making sure we are okay. Oh lastly for the drink, they have this one with the gin, citrus and cinnamon, you have to try it if you like gin. It is that good!Jenny Kwong

Sip on Locally Brewed Craft Beers

Hop Temple Ballarat

Craft beer enthusiasts may want to hold off on lunch and explore Ballarat’s growing craft beer scene. In a city where food and drink are an experience-based culture, beer lovers are sure to find their slice of heaven in Ballarat.

Get up close to the brewing process at Athletic Club Brewery, boasting an eclectic range of beer styles sure to pique your interest. Settle into one of the couches facing the beer vats behind a glass wall and sip on a choice draft brewed on site.

Head over to Hop Temple, slated as the city’s craft beer mecca. Unique decor, live music and friendly staff are just the beginning of Hop Temple’s highlights. With more beers than you can count on tap and a delicious menu that stands out on its own, this gem has something for everyone.

What is there not to love about this place? The walk through the alley to get to the entrance was a thrill, and when I opened the door, my mouth dropped open at the space aesthetics. My husband and I shared some scrumptious hot sides and a beer paddle as our afternoon tea. It was so relaxing sitting there in the cozy corner near the stairs, enjoying our food and beverages. Wished we stayed for dinner, but had prearranged to go elsewhere… hopefully we will be back soon.Helen Man

Visit Sensational Art Galleries

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Ballarat’s mix of major galleries and smaller studios are home to spectacular masterpieces to impress any art buff.

The Art Gallery of Ballarat, considered one of the best regional galleries in all Australia, draws visitors even from Melbourne. Housed in the heritage precinct of Ballarat, you’ll find an incredible range of exhibits throughout the spacious gallery.

This is by far the best regional art gallery I have ever been too. Wonderfully set out, has a great selection of art and lots of different exhibits and themes. From classic to modern, sculptures to painting’s and photos plus some Comic art. Was blown away with how amazing it was and the staff were excellent too. The best thing of all was it’s free, I was so surprised that something so awesome could be free. Please make sure you make a donation though as this place deserves it. Definately recommended for all.Steve Pickwell
We were totally surprised at the quality of this art gallery. It is brilliant! The art collection is amazing. We certainly did not expect to see such a large variety of beautiful works of art by both well-known and less-known artists in a regional gallery. It was certainly worth spending time here!Anna Palmer

See Nuggets of Gold at the Gold Museum

Gold Nugget in Gold Museum Ballarat

Everything that glitters is indeed gold at the Gold Museum. This informative museum is the perfect introduction to Ballarat’s gold rush history, displaying an impressive collection of gold nuggets, gold artifacts and gold coins.

Discover the chronological history of the gold rush as it swept over this region of Australia, lending to the prosperity of Ballarat. Gaze over historic photos and carefully preserved articles of clothing from the era.

Very interesting and well set out, you get to see real pieces of history from mining to clothing and jewellery plus real nuggets! Something for everyone. I was told not to miss it and I’m glad I visited.Oxley Vic

A great place to learn about the history of the Ballarat gold fields and interesting details. The replica gold nuggets found are eye popping. If you have any interest in history this place is well worthwhile. Fascinating facts and information well presented and well worth a quick visit.C_and_J_Lewis

Pan for Gold at Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

So far we’ve only skimmed the surface of Ballarat’s heritage. It’s time to feel the rush of the gold mining excitement for yourself and travel back in time at Sovereign Hill.

This open air museum is a living, breathing replica of Ballarat in the 1850’s. Walk through Main Street, lined with shops and factories showcasing rare 19th century trades practiced by skilled artisan using original machinery of the times.

Learn to make your own candy, watch the processing and pouring of a spectacular gold ingot or buy a post card and send it off at the working post office.

Catch a show at the Victoria Theatre or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn coach. Try your hand at firing a musket or dress up in Victorian costumes and snap a photo as a unique souvenir. With staff always in character and even a large number of actors in costume roaming the streets, Sovereign Hill feels like the closest thing to a time machine.

But the one thing you absolutely must do is try your hand at panning for gold.

If you’re lucky, you might get to keep what you find!

Absolutely wonderful place to spend the day! There are delicious bakery’s, gold panning (I found quite a bit of it) candle making (you can colour your own candles!) you can have your name be on a ‘WANTED’ poster, you can make your own bath salt jar they sell amazing boiled sweets they take you on a self guided tour underground in the mines and they run a show were you get to watch someone pour gold (gold pouring) and that is only some of what you get to experience at Sovereign Hill I definitely recommend it I’d like to thank the guy at the gold panning for teaching us how to pan and even giving us a few specks of it! Thanks to all the staff for making our day wonderful!Bella Hales

Meet the Animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park

Feeding kangaroos in Ballarat Wildlife Park

An Aussie road trip isn’t complete without at least a few wildlife encounters.

Ballarat makes it easy to get up close to iconic Australian animals at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Situated on natural bush land, you’ll find a fantastic range of animals in the park, including some you may not have encountered in the wild just yet. Hand feed the kangaroos roaming around the grounds, spot exotic cassowaries, meet the cute spotted-tail quolls and get to know the resident wombats.

And of course – take a picture with a koala!

Hands down my favorite experience in Australia to date. The park is smallish, which gives it a cozy atmosphere and allows you plenty of time to explore each exhibit. The animals all appear happy and well taken care of – honestly if I could be one of the kangaroos in another life, I wouldn’t hesitate. Plus, the staff were all lovely (not something I necessarily expect from bigger zoos). We paid extra for the wombat encounter and it was definitely worth the money. Plus, feeding and cuddling with the kangaroos was such a great time. Can’t recommend highly enough!Brittany Lloyd

Soak in the Mineral Baths at Hepburn Springs

Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa

Unwind with an invigorating mineral soak in the baths of Hepburn Springs.

Just a slight detour northeast of Ballarat, Hepburn Springs is home to Australia’s largest concentration of mineral springs.

This lends to the many spas dotting the area, all fulfilling their promise to end your day on the highest note of relaxation.

Step into the healing warmth of mineral water with a night bath at The Mineral Spa. Intimate, adults-only and with breathtaking views into the countryside, this destination spa is one of the most acclaimed in all Australia.

My partner and I went on a Sunday. We did the early bird spa and the Radiance facial together. It was great as we were the only people in the spa so we were comfortably trying out all the different saunas and spas, and the facials were amazing. I can’t commend the massage therapists enough, they did an amazing job, so much so, that I fell asleep a couple of times. The refreshments throughout and at the end were a nice finishing touch. Would highly recommend and are definetely looking at planning another trip soon!Ms Blossom

End Your Australian Road Trip in Melbourne

Our epic Australian road trip has come to an end.

With countless things to see and do in regional Australia, this journey promises fantastic experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

Now one of Australia’s most iconic cities awaits. With its unique heritage and a growing food and art scene, Ballarat is the perfect precursor to the stylish city of Melbourne.

Want to Visit Ballarat, Australia?

Ballarat holds a fascinating history and treasures extending far beyond gold for the curious traveler.

Only a short distance away from Melbourne and an essential stop on an Aussie road trip, our Destination Specialists can make the visit happen!


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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