One of the most architecturally beautiful cities I’ve visited, Ballarat is a gem an hour and a half west of Melbourne. Flush with gold rush wealth from the 1850s they built one of the greatest concentration of heritage buildings I’ve come across.
To start with natural beauty though, or at least of the man made variety, with the lovely Lake Wendouree.
It was the site of the rowing events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, easy to imagine with lanes marked out.
There is plenty of bird life around the lake, though it’s best to keep your distance from swans.
One of the more unusual sights of the trip were these weed eaters, which are probably in near constant use to keep the weeds at bay in this shallow lake (average depth of 2m).
On the lake shore are the pleasant Ballarat Botanical Gardens, home to an impressive glasshouse.
Also by the lake is the powerful Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, a reminder of how many conflicts Australia has been involved in, and the number of people affected.
In town Sturt Street is the main thoroughfare, home to many statues and some attractive buildings.
The best though can be found on the exquisite Lydiard Street, which was almost overwhelming in the quantity and quality of architectural gems, most beautifully restored to their former glory.
Ballarat Art Gallery had an impressively decent collection, housed in another lovely heritage building, extended at the back.
The heritage architecture isn’t just restricted to the city centre, the surrounding streets have a huge number of wonderful homes, again almost all well looked after.
Final piece of heritage from the drive between Bendigo and Ballarat, the huge Maryborough train station, completely outsized now for the handful of trains that pass through each day.