Ballarat is around 100km west north west of Melbourne, the State Capitol of Victoria. Melbourne Airport services both international and domestic flights. The city of Ballarat can be accessed by car and coach from Melbourne or you can take a chartered light plane into Ballarat Airport. There are plenty of prearranged tours to enjoy or hire a car and self drive to this special slice of Australian history.
There's plenty of accommodation to find in Ballarat. With Hotels, Motels/Motor Inns, Holiday Apartments, Cottages, Bed and Breakfasts, Farm Stays and Camping and Caravan Sites at one of the Holiday Parks, we're sure you'll find something that works for you.
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One of the most significant boomtowns of the Victorian era, Ballarat was transformed from a small sheep station into a bustling mining town when gold was discovered in 1851. News spread of the rich alluvial fields and within months around 20,000 migrants had descended on the area to make there fortune in a true gold rush. By 1858 the rush had peaked with the town being known as 'The Golden City' with over 60,000 people (mostly men) trying their luck. In 1859 a group of 22 Cornish miners discovered what would come to be known as 'The Welcome Nugget'; a 68.89 kg, 99% pure, gold nugget. It is the second largest nugget to be discovered anywhere in the world and is valued today at around 3 million dollars. Unlike most Australian gold rush sites the reefs at Ballarat are still giving up the goods, a 3.66kg nugget named 'Destiny' was found in July 2012.
Surprisingly this landmark of Australia is not most famous for its gold. Aussies know it for being the site of the rebellion at the Eureka Stockade, the only civil rebellion to have ever taken place in the country. The rebellion and the battle that followed started in 1854 with miners objecting to an expensive Miners License, taxation without representation and the actions of the government, the police and the military. The civil disobedience culminated on the 3rd of December 1854 in an organised battle between miners and British colonial forces at the makeshift stockade the rebels constructed. Resulting in the deaths of 22 miners, the subsequent trial of the survivors resulted in the Electoral Act of 1856, our first instituted political democracy. The Eureka Rebellion is identified by some as a political revolt and controversially identified as the birth of democracy in Australia. However one looks at it, the event was a defining point in the history of the nation.
Ballarat today is a charming city and a very popular tourist destination for exploring our colonial past. Award winning 'Sovereign Hill' is Australia's foremost open air museum and prides itself on giving visitors an authentic and value for money experience of the gold rush days; they'll even show you how to pan for gold and let you keep what you find. There are many other attractions to visit, historic walks to meander along and plenty of wonderful accommodation to suit any budget. If you love history or you love gold, Ballarat is one Australian landmark that is definitely worth a visit.
Enlarge Photo by kevinpoh