Ballarat is famous for having one of Victoria’s major Goldfields, spanning back centuries to the lucrative gold rush era. It has blossomed into a bustling city centre since then that harks back to its Victorian days through grand architecture and intricate nuances. Set in the heart of the Goldfields (a name that stems from its shiny, expensive past), Ballarat is surrounded by spectacular scenery. For most visitors, it is mandatory to hotfoot it to Sovereign Hill, a gold-mining village recreated that promises an insight into times-gone-by. Here, history, nature, and culture collide to bring visitors a sparkling glimpse into Victoria’s regional heart. Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maldon, and Kyneton make up the remainder of the region, proffering a unique collection of landscapes characterised by lush forests, red earth, and picturesque orchards. It is the ideal area to explore if you’re looking for a hearty dose of wine, food, and exceptional scenery.

The name Ballarat came from the native aboriginal words ‘Balla’ and ‘Arat’ meaning resting place. As before the European settlers, this area was a meeting place for the local indigenous community. The discovery of gold was discovered in 1851 and caused a rapid arrival of foreigners to the district, resulting in Victoria’s gold boom. But by the early 1860s the gold had run dry, and the diggers moved elsewhere in search of gold. Despite the goldfields end, the Ballart community envisioned an open museum within the Goldfields. Preserving the historic buildings, cultural diversity, and historic way of life during this era. Sovereign Hill was opened in 1970, offering an interactive museum experience one of the top tourist destinations within Victoria.

Wander down the main dirt street to see the olden day houses and shops, with horse-drawn carriages in the bare Australian landscape. Actors litter the area, as shop keepers, gold diggers or red coat soldiers. See how knowledgeable these actors are, they will be more than happy to tell you their historic life story. Day activities include tours in the mine, educational demonstrations at shops such as the blacksmith, a sweet shop, candle making shop, and many more. Popular extras include photography sitting, which lets guests dress up in olden day clothes to pose for historic style photographs. But, the most popular activity offered is visiting the gold fields. This destination is the original area where past Australians found large chunks of gold. Digging and gold panning is offered for tourists, to perhaps find your very own piece of gold!

Food is offered throughout Sovereign Hill, including restaurants, cafes, bakeries and the famous sweet shop. All foods are made and presented in the traditional way for the gold rush era, including hard boiled candy, or bread baked in traditional wood-fire ovens.

If one day is not enough for you, accommodation is provided within Sovereign hill. Just metres away from all the action, this quaint street provides a perfect night’s rest for you and your family.

Explore the Ballarat Tour from Melbourne