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Lake Wendouree

Home > Ballarat > Family | Escape the City | Kids | Outdoor | Parks | Playgrounds
Published August 20th 2012
History or perhaps legend has it that 'Wendouree' was named when a white squatter by the name of William Yuille asked a local Indigenous woman the name of the swamp she was sitting near. "Go away!" she replied, and the unsuspecting Scotsman caught the name Wendouree, meaning "go away" or "be gone" and inscribed it forever in Ballarat's history.

Birds at Lake Wendouree
Although man-made, the lake retains an organic, natural feel

Wendouree is a suburb in the north-west of Ballarat, and its lake is the pride of the city. Originally a natural swamp, it was hit by drought in 1869. Local labour cleared the grasses and expanded the pit to be a wide lake, with rain eventually filling it to its new capacity.

Public bench at Lake Wendouree
There are many resting places dotted along the shore of the lake

In the later years of the 19th Century paddle-steamers overtook the lake, becoming a popular way for locals to reach the Botanical Gardens or simply enjoy a scenic ride. During the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Lake Wendouree drew yet more crowds by hosting the rowing, kayaking and canoeing events.

The Olympic Rings
The Olympic Rings stand by the lake in memorial of the 1956 Olympics, when the rowing events came to Ballarat

Lake Wendouree again dried up following the drought of summer 2007-2008. Local council used this opportunity to dredge the lake, however its machinery as well as some residents were prone to get bogged and need a quick rescue form the mud! During this time a walking track was worn through the old rowing course, as residents made the pilgrimage across the lake following the 'path' of Olympians gone before.

Now refilled, Lake Wendouree boasts a busy 6-km walking track around its circumference, and once again hosts the annual inter-school rowing competition Head of the Lake. With numerous playgrounds, BBQs, gardens, picturesque resting-places and coffee shops scattered around it, Lake Wendouree is a calling card for local and visiting families alike.

Playground at Lake Wendouree
The larger of the two main playgrounds at the lake. There is a toddler's playground included.

Swans at Lake Wendouree
Don't stray too close - the black swans at Lake Wendouree are very territorial!

A vintage tram still runs part-way around the lake, and is an inexpensive way to take in the scenery.

Tram Ride at Lake Wendouree
The driver steps off the tram as a resident jogs past.

You can also hire a four-person bicycle. In warmer weather, don't forget to look out for the ice-cream truck which has been operating in Ballarat for many years, and usually parks near the larger playground.

Bicycle hire at Lake Wendouree
Bicycle hire at Lake Wendouree

While you're there, be sure to call in to the Botanical Gardens or pull on your sports gear and try your hand at a lap of the Steve Moneghetti Running Track.
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Why? An inexpensive family day out
Where: Wendouree, Ballarat
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