What do you picture when you think of Ballarat? Sovereign Hill, Kryal Castle and Lake Wendouree? They're great places to visit, no doubt, but Ballarat actually has plenty more to offer if you scratch below the surface.
Ballarat isn't just a city of gold and cute cafes anymore. It's coming up as one of the state's major art centres. The Art Gallery of Ballarat is one of the best regional galleries in Australia, but you'll literally find art everywhere. The ContainART mobile gallery pops up randomly across the city with various exhibitions, and you'll also encounter cool festivals, like the 2018 White Night event. A great place to visit is the Backspace Gallery in Alfred Deakin Place.
Don't visit Ballarat without checking out Apollo's Fish And Chips.
Fish and Chips Apollo's is a legendary fish and chip haunt in Ballarat East. It is mindblowing how many chips you can get for two bucks here. But even better is the restaurant's epic collection of Hollywood posters, portraits and memorabilia. Great for selfies, even better for Instagram.
Cuteness overload. Cygnets follow their mama at Lake Wendouree.
Lake Wendouree is a choice location for cygnet-spotting - as well as coffee sipping and holding hands at sunset on Valentine's Day, of course. But there are other places to view wildlife in Ballarat. Check out Paddys Ranges State Park, home to more than 140 native bird species like the Painted Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots. And Ballarat Wildlife Park is unbeatable for a close encounter with a kangaroo, dingo or the strangely beautiful Southern Cassowary.
Ballarat by night There's plenty to do at night in Ballarat. A great option is to stroll up and down the city's central street - Sturt Street - and gasp at the stunning 1800s Goldrush architecture, such as the magnificent Mechanics Institute. Great dining options include Meiga's Spanish and The Forge Pizzeria in Armstrong Street, followed by Il Piccolo Gelato. A ghost tour of Ballarat Old Cemetery is also a must.
Ballarat's historic train station exemplifies the city's beauty.