Ballarat is a city about 110 km (65 miles) north-west of Melbourne in the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia. With a population of approximately 100,000, Ballarat is the third largest city in Victoria. Drive time from Melbourne is about 80–90 minutes. Ballarat is most noted as a former goldmining town with excellent examples of Australian colonial architecture, and as the site of the famous miners' revolt at the Eureka Stockade in 1854.

Ballarat was named by Scottish squatter Archibald Yuille who established the first settlement—his sheep run called Ballaarat—in 1837, with the name derived from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat, thought to mean "resting place". The present spelling was officially adopted by the City of Ballarat in 1996.

It is one of the most significant Victorian era boomtowns in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered at Poverty Point on 18 August 1851 and news quickly spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could easily be extracted. Within months, approximately 20,000 migrants had rushed the district. Several Australian mining innovations were made at the Ballarat diggings including the first use of a Chilean mill in 1851 and the first use of a mine cage in 1861. Unlike many other gold rush boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for decades.

The Eureka Rebellion began in Ballarat, and the only armed rebellion in Australian history, the Battle of Eureka Stockade, took place on 3 December 1854. In response to the event the first male suffrage in Australia was instituted and as such Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia. The gold rush and boom gave birth in many other significant cultural legacies. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat. Other nationally significant heritage structures include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, established 1857, the best example of a regional botanic gardens in Australia with the greatest concentration of public statuary including the official Prime Ministers Avenue; the longest running lyric theatre building, Her Majesty's, established 1875; the first municipal observatory, established 1886; and the earliest and longest memorial avenue, the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919.

Proclaimed a city in 1871, its prosperity continued until late in the 19th century, after which its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong rapidly faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics. It is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and the largest city in the Goldfields region of Victoria—a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well preserved Victorian era heritage.

Get in

By car

Ballarat is an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne on the Western Freeway (M8). Alternatively, from Geelong take the southern section of the A300; from Bendigo and Castlemaine take the northern section of the same highway.

By train

Frequent V/Line trains run from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes with a usual frequency of one an hour in each direction. More frequent services run during weekday peak times, but they can be crowded. Ballarat train station is in Lydiard Street in the centre of the city. Lydiard Street has one of the best examples of Victorian-era streetscapes in Australia, and the train station itself has a magnificent façade and clock tower.

Routes through Ballarat

Wendouree  W  E  Ballan Melbourne
Ararat Beaufort  W  E  Ballan Melbourne
Maryborough  W  E  Ballan Melbourne

By plane

Ballarat is not served directly by commercial passenger flights. You therefore need to fly to Melbourne. There is an Airport Shuttle Bus between Ballarat and Melbourne's main domestic and international airport, Melbourne airport (MEL), also known as Tullamarine on some booking sites. The shuttle bus costs $30 for adults, $76 for families, $16 for children 3 to 16, and children under 3 are free. For more information on Tullamarine see Melbourne airport.

There is no direct connection between Melbourne's secondary Avalon airport (AVV) and Ballarat, and the options are to either hire a car, or get the coach into Melbourne's Southern Cross train station and then the train to Ballarat, which is a considerable detour. shows and compares shuttle bus, taxi pickups and airport transfer fares to Melbourne Airport and surrounds.

Get around

You can get around Ballarat by bicycle. There are two options for bicycle hire.


Ballarat Tramway Museum



Ballarat Mining Exchange, home of the Design Exchange

Ballarat has several markets held throughout the week which offer great shopping for antiques, bric-à-brac and various local products such as plants and confectionery.



There are numerous pubs and nightclubs in Ballarat including:


There are many options for all budgets throughout Ballarat. Book ahead especially when there is a major event planned.

Go next

Hire a bike, and cycle the 53 km off-road Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail. Download the free Bike. Walk. Ride. App from

Routes through Ballarat

Ararat Beaufort  W  E  Ballan Melbourne
END Wendouree  W  E  Ballan Melbourne
Maryborough Creswick  W  E  Ballan Melbourne

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