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Published December 20th 2020
Don't smell a rat - Ballarat has it all for families
Ballarat is a one and a half-hour drive from Melbourne and has a wide range of interesting family activities. Ballarat can be easily reached from Melbourne by taking the Western Freeway.
The most iconic family attraction in Ballarat is Sovereign Hill, a recreated goldfields township. There are many tours, demonstrations and activities throughout the day including gold panning, coach rides, blacksmithing, musket firing, underground mine tours, diggings tours and gold pouring. Interesting Goldfields characters such as redcoat soldiers and troopers mingle with visitors. An extensive set of buildings which can be explored include the Blacksmiths, Apothecaries' Hall, Gold Office, Bowling Alley and Gold Museum. The entry price for a family of four is $99. At night time, there is a spectacular sound-and-light show on the site (separate admission fees apply).
Panning for gold at Sovereign Hill
Ballarat Wildlife Park provides an interactive experience with some of Australia's most unique animals. A highlight for many people are the free-roaming kangaroos. Animals in the zoo include native Australian animals and a wide variety of exotic reptiles. A recent addition are Sumatran tigers. Daily activities include a guided tour in the morning plus animal presentations and meet the keepers in the afternoon which are included in the entry fee. Animal encounters are also available for an additional cost. Admission for a family (up to 4 children) is $95.
Free roaming kangaroos and emus at Ballarat Wildlife Park
If birds are more your interest, Ballarat Bird World has over two hundred Australian and overseas birds to see including a large free flight walk through aviary. Admission for a family (up to 4 children) is $38.
Kryal Castle provides medieval shows and attractions including a jousting tournament. Older kids can visit the Torture Dungeon & Museum to add a few new tricks to their current repertoire for convincing parents to pay for non-included activities, such as the archery. Admission for a family (up to 4 children) is $99.
Jousting Tournament at Kryal Castle
Gold Rush Mini Golf has two 18 hole themed courses – one indoors and one outdoors, so all weather conditions are fully catered for. The Lost Worlds glow in the dark indoor course incorporates dinosaurs, medieval knights and Caribbean pirates while the outdoor course celebrates the history of the nineteenth-century gold rush. Green fees are $36 per family for one course or $56 for two courses.
Indoor course at Gold Rush Mini Golf
Take a ride on a historic tram through the beautiful Botanical Gardens and along Lake Wendouree. The cost is $14 for a family ride.
During the warmer part of the year, there are free water play parks at the Midlands Reserve water play park and the Sebastopol water play park which feature water cannons, fountains, water jets and waterfall.
Bring along your skateboard or scooter and check out Ballarat Skatepark which is one of the best skateparks in Victoria. It has bowls, street course and an area for beginners.