Sunday, May 11, 2014


Last weekend we celebrated the 30th birthday of one of my co-workers, and the party was held near the town of Ballarat. Quite a few of my co-workers are either from Ballarat or went to university there, so Erik and I had been talking about visiting Ballarat, the 3rd largest city in Victoria, for a while. Fortunately, the party hosts were kind enough to let us crash at their place on Saturday night so that we could spend the next day exploring "the 'Rat". As a bonus, we took a morning stroll around their neighborhood for some kangaroo viewing, which never gets old for us non-Australians!

Ballarat is about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne, and its significance as a "boom town" during the gold rush in the 1800's is what made the town famous. Today, many school groups flock to Sovereign Hill, the site of gold discovery. We decided not to enter Sovereign Hill, as it is quite expensive, but we did head to the Sovereign Hill overlook, where you can see the area where gold was first discovered. I did learn that as teacher I can apply for free entry to Sovereign Hill, so it might be worth a trip back just for that!

The town itself is very picturesque, with tree-lined streets and gorgeous older houses dotting the roads. There is also a lake, which happens to be where the rowing events were held during the 1956 Olympic Games.
Lake Wendouree

Lydiard Street is home to historic buildings, including a cinema and an art gallery. The art gallery is free and quite extensive, definitely worth a visit!

Ballarat as it was during the gold rush of the 1850's
Aboriginal artwork. The paintings are done on tree bark!

For lunch we made a stop at The Burger Company. I think burgers are a food that America tends to do well and Australian burgers are sometimes a let-down, but this place was outstanding! In addition to good burgers, they served crinkle cut fries (known as "chips" here), which I don't think I've ever seen in Australia. The owner loved that we were American (and wondered what a few Americans were doing in Ballarat!) and wanted to make sure that we thought the food was up to par. We also split a Tim Tam milkshake that was quite tasty, though Australian milkshakes are just not what we are used to in the States (in Oz they seem to be thin and milky, rather than thick and creamy).

Along Sturt Street, a major road running through Ballarat, we found St Patrick's College, one of Victoria's most prestigious private Catholic schools. Our school competes against them annually in Australian Rules Football.

Love the old school post box!
We also stopped by the Avenue of Honour and the Arch of Victory, both serving as memorials to soldiers (commonly known as "diggers") who served in WWI and WWII.
The is the arch and the "avenue" is the tree-lined street just beyond the arch.
This was just after ANZAC Day, where "diggers" are honored, hence the fresh flower arrangements.
We sort of felt like we could have been in one of our hometowns, either Westminster, MD or Buffalo, MN. The historic buildings, tree-lined streets, and general laid-back feel of a smaller city made us smile, and we felt it was a Sunday well-spent in Ballarat.

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