Ballarat, Victoria's largest inland city, lies in a west-northwesterly direction an hour and a half's drive from Melbourne.
It is a city with a golden past, quickly reaching peaks of population during the gold rush of the 1850s.
Today Ballarat, with some 85,000 people, has doubled the population of the 1850s although the search for gold has petered out.
There are many reminders of Ballarat's golden past, including the architecture of the Victorian age still evident today in the city's many fine buildings.
From its past as a mining town, Ballarat has reinvented itself into a popular tourist destination, particularly with the creation of Sovereign Hill in 1970.
It is a city of craft galleries, museums, gardens -- and is, of course, the site of the Eureka Stockade.
Originally home to the Aboriginal Wathurung tribe, the name "Ballarat" comes from the Aboriginal word meaning "resting place."
Some places of interest close to Ballarat:
- Clunes, scene of the first gold strike in 1851. Heritage buildings including an ornate town hall, and elegant banks and churches.
- Daylesford, on Wombat Hill, known together with neighboring Hepburn Springs as the spa centre of Australia.
- Maldon, the National Trust's first "notable town in Australia" selected for its gold-rush streetscapes.
- Bendigo with its Gothic-style public buildings and an authentic historical charm in a modern setting.
Ballarat is easily reached by taking the Western Freeway out of Melbourne. As well, there are train and coach lines from Melbourne.