Ballarat, a city about an hour’s drive away from Melbourne, is a popular tourist destination in the Goldfields region of Victoria. With its whopping population of about 100,000 it is the most populous town in the Australian interior.
Ballarat became a real booming city as a direct result of the gold rush. Gold continued to be found in and around Ballarat, even to this day, so it maintained its place as a city of merit. Due to all the gold coming through Ballarat, there is a lot of wonderful architecture from the late 1800’s. These buildings include the Town Hall, Mining Exchange, and Post Office.
Ballarat was also home to the only armed rebellion in Australia history, the Eureka Stockade, and it is credited with starting democracy in Australia.
Just like many other cities in Australia, including Melbourne, World War I is honored in an amazing way in Ballarat. It is one of the earliest war memorials to have been built. The impressive Arch of Victory leads the way onto the Avenue of Honor. For the next 22 km, trees (some now 100 years old) line the edges of the road. The plantings started in 1917 with 1,000 trees, but there are now a total of 3,771 trees. It is a beautiful remembrance.
Ballarat is also special in that it has hosted the Olympics…. well, at least parts of them. During the Melbourne Summer Olympics of 1956, canoeing and rowing competitions were held on Lake Wendouree in Ballarat.
About halfway between Melbourne and Ballarat are the Brisbane Ranges and Brisbane Ranges National Park. Within the national park is Anakie Gorge, a gorge created by the Stony River. When we walked the trail alongside the gorge, the river truly lived up to its name as there was no water in it, only stones.