15 Best Things To Do In Ballarat, Australia - Updated 2021

things to do in ballarat australia
Adrian Chew
Adrian Chew
Updated

Ballarat is situated on the Yarrowee River, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) northwest of Melbourne in the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia, or about 1.5 hours by car. It is the 4th biggest city in Victoria State. Ballarat is most noted as a former mining town and is made of gold. The single biggest attraction here is the fabulous recreated mining town of Sovereign Hill. The locals are known as Ballaratians. Ballarat is arguably the most significant boomtown during the gold rush era. It has transformed from a sleepy town into a modern developed city. Now it is a thriving hub of contemporary arts, events, wine and food with a fascinating heritage backdrop. If you’re planning to visit, check out our recommendations for things to do in Ballarat, Australia, below.

1. Ride a bygone-era tram at Ballarat Tramway Museum

Ballarat tram No 671
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peterdownunder used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Experience a museum like no other at Ballarat Tramway Museum. Situated in the lovely Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Ballarat Tramway Museum features a splendid fleet of vintage trams that will thrill any avid train fan. This museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of tramway transportation via old photographs, interesting historic films, and intriguing tramway memorabilia. There is also a fabulous tramcar collection that includes Australia’s first solar-powered tramway. Visitors are welcome to board a 100-year-old tram and take a ride through the beautiful Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

Ballarat Tramway Museum

Address: South Gardens Reserve, Wendouree Parade, Lake Wendouree VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Ballarat Tramway Museum

Opening hours: Tue: 11am - 3:30pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 3:30pm (closed on Mon & Wed - Fri)

Price: Free entry (tram ride 5 USD)

2. Admire compelling architecture at Saint Patrick's Cathedral

Ballarat Roman Catholic Cathedral
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mattinbgn used under CC BY 3.0

Constructed in the 1800s, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is a significant Roman Catholic church in Ballarat. Boasting an early Gothic-inspired style, the architectural beauty of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is immense. This church features a handsome bluestone exterior and eye-catching stained glass windows. The interior is jaw-dropping: awash in ornate wood accents, towering ceilings, and a very spacious nave. The materials for the Stations of the Cross and High Altar were purchased in Rome and the High Altar consists of a crisp flawless Carrara marble decorated with treasured stones.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

Address: 3 Lyons St S, Ballarat Central VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

3. Savor eclectic food at Red Peppa on Sturt

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Red Peppa on Sturt on Friday, August 7, 2020

Red Peppa on Sturt serves contemporary Australian cuisine in a relaxed, elegant atmosphere. Replete with a bold red-and-black color scheme, this fine-dining establishment offers an eclectic menu prepared with the freshest ingredients. Patrons can savor everything from honey rosemary lamb rump to salt and pepper silken tofu. For an after-dinner treat, try the pineapple fritter comprised of toasted coconut and maple crumble, luscious coconut ice-cream, and pine-lime caramel.

Red Peppa on Sturt

Address: 34 Sturt St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Red Peppa on Sturt

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - 8:30pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

4. Explore Ballarat's mining past at The Gold Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAM Want to get up close with a REAL gold nugget? Our famous Australia nugget will be on show these...

Posted by Gold Museum - Sovereign Hill on Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Gold Museum is part of the open-air museum of Sovereign Hill and it is situated on an old mine! This fantastic museum delves into the Ballarat region’s rich and compelling gold history. The prized precious metal was discovered in the area in 1851, and this venue showcases a huge collection of brilliant gold artifacts that include fascinating nuggets, ancient jewelry, captivating coins, and worn mining tools. Admission to The Gold Museum is included in the entry price for Sovereign Hill.

The Gold Museum

Address: Bradshaw St, Golden Point VIC 3350, Australia

Website: The Gold Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

5. A bird-lover's paradise awaits at Ballarat Bird World

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Ballarat Bird World on Saturday, February 3, 2018

Visit with the country’s most vibrant winged species from gang-gangs to Major Mitchells at Ballarat Bird World. This popular tourist attraction features an exhilarating free-flight aviary. Compact habitats house 40 kinds of birds - primarily squawking Australian cockatoos and parrots. Ballarat Bird World also features a lovely garden, a sparkling man-made waterfall, a serene lily pond, and terrific dinosaur models: a fun animatronic triceratops. A cafe on the premises provides food and drink and a toasty wood-burning fireplace to warm yourself on a chilly day.

Ballarat Bird World

Address: 408 Eddy Ave, Mount Helen VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Ballarat Bird World

Opening hours: Fri - Mon: 10am - 5pm (closed from Tue - Thu)

Price: 12 USD

6. Learn about the stars at Ballarat Municipal Observatory & Museum

Ballarat Observatory
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gareth Little-Hales used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ballarat Municipal Observatory & Museum is an enticing attraction for any diehard stargazer. One of the earliest observatories in the country, this one was erected in the 1800s and offers a glimpse into a historic observation site. The splendid museum features dazzling 3D films and a great tour of the observatory. A collection of telescopes are available but be aware that the viewing at the telescopes is on a weather-permitting basis. A science-themed gift shop and cozy cafe are onsite.

Ballarat Municipal Observatory & Museum

Address: 439 Cobden St, Mount Pleasant VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Ballarat Municipal Observatory & Museum

Opening hours: Tue, Thu & Sat: 5pm - 7pm, 8:45pm - 10:30pm (closed on Sun, Mon, Wed & Fri)

Price: 10 - 24 USD

7. Have a drink at Irish Murphys

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Happy hour is back!!! 5pm-7pm Monday to Friday Great discounts on tap beer, basic spirits and house wine. See you at the bar this arvo!!! #guinness #happyhour #ballarat

Posted by Irish Murphys on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

There’s no better place to end your day than at Irish Murphys. A traditional and lively Australian pub, this venue offers a menu packed with hearty classic eats and of course full-bodied Guinness brew. The setting is cozy with an Irish-inspired ambiance that provides raucous live music and comfortable booth seating. Nosh on tasty nachos, golden fish & chips, or a plate of satisfying Beef & Guinness Pie. A wide variety of cold beers and robust wines are available to lift your spirits.

Irish Murphys

Address: 36 Sturt St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350, Australia

Website: Irish Murphys

Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 5pm - 12am; Wed - Sun: 11:30am - 12am

8. Explore the stunning Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Ballarat botanical Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nagarjun Roy used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This botanical garden is located on the western shore of Lake Wendouree and is one of Australia‘s most significant climate gardens. It covers an area of 40 acres (16 hectares) and is divided into 3 zones, namely the open parkland buffers known as the North and South Gardens, as well as central Botanical Gardens. Hop on a tram to enjoy the beautiful scenery around the garden and there is a museum nearby too. Just sit back and relax while taking pictures of black swans swimming and nesting on the lake. The gardens are indeed an invaluable heritage and recreational resource. If you are looking for some inspiration, visit Ballarat Botanical Garden during the Begonia Festival in March every year. One will be truly amazed with the awe inspiring display begonias. Nearby on Prime Ministers Avenue, you can see a collection of bronze busts; all Australian Prime Ministers. You can complete your day with some coffee and cake over the road at Pipers, to make it even more memorable for yourself.

Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Address: Gillies St N, N Ballarat, VIC 3355, Australia

Price: Depends on which guided tours you choose

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (9am-4.30pm)

Access: By car

Contact: + 61 353205155

Near by Food: Pipers by the Lake

Website: Ballarat Botanical Gardens

9. Step back in time at Sovereign Hill

Posted by Sovereign Hill on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Ever wondered if you could travel back to a time, just like in a movie scene? Head over to Sovereign Hill and enjoy the Wild Wild West experience. Although it is a museum, its surroundings look real, as seen in any of the Cowboy movies. Sovereign Hill depicts Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851, and is located in Golden Point, a suburb of Ballarat. A replica of a gold mining town with costumed actors, a mine tour, coach rides and other attractions, this place will really get you excited. While at the museum, watch the street theatre, live goldfield music and get into the spirit by panning gold yourself. If you are the adventurous type, venture deep underground on a guided mine tour. You can also explore the shops and wander the main streets to visit the goldsmith and craftsman at work or even catch a ride in a traditional horse drawn carriage. Across the road from Sovereign Hills is a gold museum, where you can view the extensive collection of gold nuggets, ornaments and coins. By night, Sovereign Hill presents a spectacular multi-million dollar sound and light show. This entertainment show was awarded Australia’s Best Historic and Cultural Experience in 2009 by Travelling in Australia Magazine. Head over now and immerse yourself in the history of Victoria’s gold rush era. Sovereign Hill is where Australia’s history comes to life!

Sovereign Hill

Address: Bradshaw Street, Ballarat, Victoria 3350, Australia

Price: Depending on the passes you choose

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday (10am- 5pm). Closed on Christmas Day

Duration: 1-2 days

Access: By car, tour coaches or train

Contact: + 61 353371199

Near by Food: Hope Bakery

Website: Sovereign Hill

10. Visit the animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park

What a beautiful sunny day in Ballarat. Hope you are all happy xxxxx

Posted by Patrick the Wombat on Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Ballarat Wildlife Park strives to give the best interactive experience with some of Australia’s most unique animals. Visitors will get to experience a close up encounter and also mingle with kangaroos, emus, koalas and the Tasmanian devil in their natural habitats. You will also get a chance to see about 100 kangaroos roaming freely in the park. Other animals include large displays of exotic reptiles such as Komodo dragons and alligators, plus both venomous and non-venomous snakes. Of course, the highlight in Ballarat Wildlife Park will be the chance to meet the famous Patrick, the world’s oldest and largest wombat known in captivity, having outlived the average wombat in the wild. Patrick was listed by CNN Travel as a great city mascot. You will also get the chance to meet Crunch, the super croc during one of the live animal shows. Have a photo taken of you and some of the animals to bring home as a memorable souvenir.

Ballarat Wildlife Park

Address: Cnr. Fussel & York Streets, Ballarat, Victoria 3352, Australia

Price: About 33 AUD/ 25 USD (Adults), 18.50 AUD/14 USD (Children, 5-15 years), 27 AUD/20.46 USD (Concession)

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday (9am-5pm). Closed on Christmas Day

Duration: Half day - full day

Access: By train, bus or car

Contact: + 61 353335933

Near by Food: Cafe Brolga

Website: Ballarat Wildlife Park

11. Shop for fresh produce at Bridge Mall Farmers Market

It's Market Day tomorrow! 9am to 1pm. Over 50 stalls of fresh produce & hand made products, live entertainment, petting...

Posted by Bridge Mall Ballarat on Friday, 31 March 2017

The Bridge Mall Farmers Market is a unique, vibrant and exciting market unlike any other farmers markets. This market brings together food, music, entertainment, art, and shopping. The market opens on the first Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm. It is located at the bottom of Sturt Street, Ballarat. There are 50 stalls selling a wide range of produce, among them organic fruits, vegetables, cheese, wine, cakes, jams, olive oil, bread, fresh coffee, sauces, gourmet biscuits, eggs and soap. Everything available here is guaranteed amazing and the produce is reared, grown or processed by farmers and producers here in Australia. There are local artists playing live music and a children’s playground, face painting, jumping castle and animal farm, for added fun. Not only does this market bring local farm produce to your table, it creates a vibrant social hub.

Bridge Mall Farmers Market

Address: 86 Shop 1, 86 Bridge Mall, Ballarat, Victoria 3350, Australia

Price: Free access

Opening hours: 1st Saturday of every month (9am-1pm). Closed on other days

Duration: Between 1-2 hours

Access: By bus, car, bike or by foot

Contact: + 61 410215247

Near by Food: Various food and drinks sold here

Website: Bridge Mall Farmers Market

12. Go birdwatching at Lake Wendouree

Lake Wendouree , Baĺlarat

Posted by David Hurburgh on Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Lake Wendouree is an artificially created lake situated in the center of Ballarat. It offers a wide range of recreational activities ranging from fishing, bird-watching to cycling. It is a really beautiful and magnificent lake which forms an iconic part of Ballarat. The scenery is spectacular – the birds, the greenery, the beautiful sunset or sunrise. It was once the venue for rowing events for the Melbourne Olympic Games. There are running tracks, cycling trails, walkways, an indigenous playground and BBQ facilities for visitors. Lake Wendouree Fairyland provides an ideal space for gatherings. If you are thirsty or hungry, fret not as there are restaurants and cafes nearby. Whilst relaxing, you can sit back and take some pictures of black swans on the lake. Visitors can walk around or even take a vintage tram ride to enjoy the scenic views.

Lake Wendouree

Address: Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Ballarat, Victoria 3353, Australia

Price: Free access

Opening hours: You can go at anytime

Duration: 1 day

Access: Near to Ballarat Botanical Gardens and Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Contact: + 61 353207444

Near by Food: Picnic and BBQ facilities available

Website: Lake Wendouree

13. Admire the masterpieces at the Art Gallery of Ballarat

Posted by Art Gallery of Ballarat on Monday, 3 April 2017

Ballarat is fast becoming a melting pot of art and culture. It is home to a wealth of galleries showcasing historic and contemporary art from near and far. This art gallery is located on Lydiard Street north, and is the oldest and largest gallery in the region. It houses one of the country’s most significant collections of Australian art. The gallery offers a stunning collection, both in breadth and depth, of art pieces from famous Australian artists. Among them are Streeton, McCubbin, Dorrel and Lindsay. There is a fabulous gift shop where you can buy works of local artists and craftsman such as souvenirs, toys and art books. It also caters to special exhibitions, events and workshops. For all art lovers, it provides insight to Australian art history.

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Address: 40 Lydiard St N, Ballarat, Victoria 3350, Australia

Price: Free entry

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday (10am-5pm). Closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Duration: About 1 hour

Access: By bus or train. Within walking distance from Ballarat train station

Contact: + 61 353205858

Near by Food: Kittelty’s at the Gallery

Website: Art Gallery of Ballarat

14. Pay your respects at the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial 001
Source: Photo by user Mattinbgn used under CC BY 3.0

The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial is a memorial park situated at 1A Carlton Street, Lake Wendouree. It features a granite wall, honoring the names of 35,000 courageous soldiers who were prisoners of war during the Boer War, World War 1 and 2 and the Korean War. The memorial is simple and beautiful in grandeur. It was dedicated on the 6th February, 2004. This beautiful structure serves as a moving tribute to the unsung heroes and is a must-see place in Ballarat.

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Address: 1A Carlton St, Ballarat, VIC 3350, Australia

Price: Free entry

Opening hours: You can go at anytime

Duration: About 1 hour and 30 minutes

Access: Within walking distance from Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Website: Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

15. Go biking along the marvelous Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail (from USD 79.0)

Biking enthusiasts can’t resist a trek on Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail. A point-to-point trail comprised of 33 miles (53 kilometers), this lightly trafficked and scenic trail offers a moderate challenge for cyclists and it is also a popular spot for walking, hiking, and bird watching. The terrain is picturesque and it features sights of age-old bridges, fragrant eucalypt forests, and vast grasslands. You can even view a collection of charming 19th-century villages that dot the landscape along the way.

Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail - Full day adventure

Duration: 8 to 10 hours

Experience all Ballarat has to offer

Ballarat is an oozing character, everything from the streetscapes to the trees, cafes, as well as attractions, is full of beauty, wonder and charm. That’s why visitors are flocking to Ballarat when they get the opportunity. Whether you are traveling as a family, a couple or by yourself, the living museum of Sovereign Hill is a place you should not miss. Ballarat has so much to offer, ranging from art and culture, gardens, museums, and galleries to history, dining and fresh produce. There are always things for you to see or do here!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I was born and raised in a small town called Muar, Johor in Malaysia. After my parents got married, I moved to Kuala Lumpur and currently residing in Selayang, Selangor. My favourite pastime...Read more

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