Get out and see what Ballarat is made of: historic streetscapes, good nature and fine food. Picnic in sprawling gardens, learn a new skill at a creative workshop and wrap your lips around the city's emerging craft beer and wine scene.
It's easy to have a ball in Ballarat. Here's ten reasons to visit.
1. Lake Wendouree and Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Find the perfect picnic spot under 100-year-old trees at the Botanical Gardens, or throw your blanket down by Ballarat's picturesque Lake Wendouree. Walk off your meal with a leisurely stroll along the lake's 6km track or take in the view from inside a vintage tram.
2. Art Gallery of Ballarat
Spend some time at Australia's oldest regional gallery. With a permanent collection of over 11,000 works on rotation, there's plenty of art to explore.
Impress guests at your next dinner party with traditional Italian recipes via Carboni's monthly cooking masterclass or learn all about the craft of brewing at Aunty Jacks. Pick up pottery skills at Beck Davies Ceramics, or paint and sip the night away at Pinot & Picasso.
4. Ghost tours
A town with as much history as Ballarat surely has a couple of friendly spooks hanging around. Jump on an Eerie Ghost Tour and travel through underground buildings, back alleyways and the old Ballarat Gaol, as you hear dark tales of local ghostly encounters.
5. Eat streets
Feeling peckish? Head to the city's eat streets to satisfy your appetite. Order lunch from 1816 Bakehouse, wood-fired pizza from The Forge or drop into Korean bar and restaurant Roy Hammond on Armstrong Street. Choose between Asian and Italian cuisine on Mair Street. Grab a coffee from Fika or settle in for a seasonal tasting menu at Underbar on Doveton Street. Admire heritage architecture along Lydiard Street, before you head to Craig's Royal Hotel for high tea and order lunch or dinner lush with local produce at Lola.
6. Liquid gold
There's still plenty of gold to be found in Ballarat – liquid gold, that is. Head to Aunty Jacks and Hop Temple for a cold local brew, try great grapes at Mitchell Harris and order colourful cocktails from 18th Amendment Bar.
7. Ballarat wine region
Ballarat's cool climate is ideal for producing pinot noir and chardonnay. Drop into the cellar doors of Eastern Peake Winery and Captains Creek, both a short drive from the regional city. Or, take a day trip out to the Pyrenees wine region for savoury reds and standout sparkling wines.
8. Winter Wonderlights
Head to Sovereign Hill to experience its new immersive winter experience. See the gold rush era brought to life in dazzling light show, splayed across the buildings of the open-air museum.
9. Day hikes
Pack your boots and make Ballarat your base, as you head off to explore extinct volcanoes and old forests. Hike to the top of Mount Buninyong for sweeping views of the region, or curate your own adventure along the 53km Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail. Stretch your legs on the drive to or from Melbourne at the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk, a simple stop off the Western Freeway.
10. Quirky accommodation
Find cool and quirky accommodation around the region. Spend the night in renovated churches, boutique and historic hotels, or a medieval-styled castle. Go glamping, retreat to a luxury cottage, or get off-the-grid in a tiny house.