What You Need To Know

Ballarat is a city located on the Yarrowee River in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. The city has a population of 101,588. In terms of population Ballarat is the third largest inland city in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from the state of New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered on 18 August 1851, and news quickly spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could easily be extracted. Unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, which can be evidenced to this day in the city’s rich architecture. The city is famous in Australia for the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed rebellion in Australian history. In response to this 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 rebellion’s symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat. 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 its largest city, as well a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well-preserved Victorian era heritage, with much of the city subject to heritage overlays. After a narrow popular vote the city merged with the town of Ballarat East in 1921, ending a long-standing rivalry.


Population: Estimate 108,438
Area: 343,6 km²




Ballarat is home to three bikie chapters, most notably the Finks Motorcycle Club, who, in 2010, were planning to build a club house and training centre in the city. Other bikie chapters in the city are the Vikings and the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.  The city was the subject of an ABC Four Corners report on the use of methamphetamine in Australia, along with Devonport, Burnie, Castlemaine and St Arnaud. Ballarat also has 3 police stations: Ballarat, Ballarat North and Ballarat West.



The economy of Ballarat is driven by all three economic sectors, though contemporary Ballarat has emerged as a primarily service economy with its main industry being the service industry and its key areas of business including tourism, hospitality, retail, professional services, government administration and education. Secondary industry including manufacturing, which had grown in the 20th century remains an important sector. The city’s historic primary industry roots including mining and agriculture continue to play a role, though one that has declined since the 20th century. Industries emerging this century include information technology service sector and renewable energy.



A view from Lake Wendouree toward Mount Buninyong Reserve. Ballarat has a healthy environment in comparison to Melbourne; however, as a growing regional city there are issues including pollution, waterway health and invasive species. Air quality is generally good, however dust is sometimes an issue in the summer months and woodsmoke from fireplaces is an issue in the winter months. Ballarat’s waterways have historically been affected by heavy pollution from both mining and industry. The Ballarat Environment Network formed in 1993 to provide a voice for environmental and nature conservation issues in Ballarat and its surroundings. Another large lobby group for sustainability in the city is the Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions (BREAZE) formed in 2006. The City of Ballarat released an Environment Sustainability Strategy for the city in 2007. While there are no national parks in Ballarat’s proximity, Ballarat is bordered by extensive bushland to the north, south and south west and sensitive wetlands to the east. There are a number of nearby state parks and large reserves including the Enfield State Park,  Creswick Regional Park, Mount Warrenheip Flora Reserve, Mount Buninyong Reserve and Lake Burrumbeet park. The region is home to a large koalapopulation with protected areas established in the city’s outer southern and eastern settlements. Many parts of urban Ballarat have been affected by the introduction of exotic species, particularly introduced flora. Common gorse is one such problem which has prompted the formation of an official Ballarat Region Gorse Task Force in 1999 to control. European rabbits and red foxes cause significant environmental damage in the region’s agriculture areas.



Ballarat Base Hospital’s Henry Bolte wing (completed in 1994) Drummond St Nth Ballarat has two major hospitals. The public health services are managed by Ballarat Health Services including the Ballarat Base which services the entire region and the Queen Elizabeth Centre for aged care on Ascot Street Sth. The St John of God Health Care centre also on Drummond Street Nth, established in 1915 is currently the largest private hospital in regional Victoria. The Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC) on the corner of Drummond and Sturt Street includes a number of facilities focused on cancer treatment. The Heart Foundation did a study in 2014 that Ballarat had the highest level of physical inactivity (85.3 per cent) in Australia and that 32.9 per cent of residents were deemed obese.



English is the official language.


Music and live entertainment

Ballarat has a significant music scene and a number of established music venues. Ballarat has produced several note worthy bands and musicians. Notable musicians from Ballarat include composer and violinist Warren Ellis, and alternative bands The Mavis’s, Epicure and The Dead Salesmen.



Christianity remains the dominant religion in Ballarat, with over 65% of residents claiming Christian affiliation, slightly above the national average of 64%. According to the 2006 Census, Catholics (27.1%), Anglicans (15.0%), Uniting Church (11.2%) and Presbyterians (4.0%) remain the largest Christian denominations in Ballarat. Over 21.6% of Ballarat residents claim no religious affiliation. Minority religious groups include Buddhism, Judaism, Baha’i and Islam and total less than 5% of the population.


Tourism and hospitality

Main Street in Sovereign Hill, a large open-air gold mining museum, is Ballarat’s most famous attraction. Ballarat attracts 2.2 million visitors a year and the tourism and hospitality industry is a A$480 million a year sector which accounts for around 15% of Ballarat’s economy and employs around 2,870 people. Tourism in Ballarat is promoted by Ballarat Regional Tourism. A significant heritage tourism industry has not grown substantially in Ballarat since the 1960s. Ballarat is most notable for the award-winning open-air museum known as Sovereign Hill, a recreated 1850s gold mining settlement opened in 1970. Sovereign Hill is Ballarat’s biggest tourism drawcard and is consistently rated among one of the best outdoor museums in the world and continues to expand. Sovereign Hill accounts for over half a million of Ballarat’s visitors and $40 million in tourism revenue. Several businesses and attractions have capitalised on Ballarat’s gold mining history. They include Kryal Castle (1972), “Gold Rush Mini Golf” (2002) featuring the “Big Miner” (2006) one of Australia’s big things (although the original proposal appeared larger and for the miner to hold the Eureka Flag) at Ballarat’s eastern entrance. Other tourist attractions include the Eureka Centre; The Gold Museum, Ballarat; Ballarat Botanic gardens and Lake Wendouree; the Museum of Australian Democracy; the Ballarat Tramway Museum and Ballarat Ghost Tours and Ballarat Wildlife Park. A large number of Ballarat hotels, motels and restaurants service the tourism industry. The Ballarat Tourist Association is an industry based non-profit, membership organisation representing the city’s tourism industry.



Ballarat has a moderate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb)  with four distinct seasons. Its elevation, at 435 metres (1,427 feet) above sea level, causes its mean monthly temperatures to tend to be on average 3 to 4 °C (5 to 7 °F) below those of Melbourne. The mean daily maximum temperature for January is 25.1 °C (77 °F), while the mean minimum is 10.9 °C (52 °F). In July, the mean maximum is 10.0 °C (50 °F); average July minimum is 3.2 °C (38 °F). Ballarat has 55.2 clear days annually. The mean annual rainfall is 693 millimetres (27.3 inches), with August being the wettest month (75 mm or 3.0 in). There are an average of 198 rain-free days per year. Like much of Australia, Ballarat experiences cyclical drought and heavy rainfall. Flooding of the Yarrowee catchment occurs occasionally. In 1869 a serious flood of the Yarrowee River put most of the lower section of business district including Bridge and Grenville streets under water and caused the loss of two lives. Prolonged drought (an average annual rainfall with falls averaging as low as 400 mm (16 in) per year since 2001) caused Lake Wendouree to dry up completely for the first time in its history between 2006 and 2007. More recently higher rainfall levels have been recorded including 95.0 mm (3.74 in) in the 24 hours to 9 am on 14 January 2011, ending a four-day period of flooding rains across much of Victoria and Tasmania, and contributing to the wettest January on record, with a total of 206.0 mm (8.11 in) of rain for the month. Light snowfall typically falls on nearby Mount Buninyong and Mount Warrenheip at least once a year but in the urban area only during heavy winters. Widespread frosts and fog are more common during the cooler months. Snow has been known to fall heavily. Heavy snow seasons occurred in 1900–1902 and 1905–1907 (with record falls in 1906), and moderate snow seasons were recorded during the 1940s and 1980s. Recent snowfalls to have occurred within the urban area were in 2006, 2008, 2014 and 2016, with falls in November 2006 (light, also the latest snowfall on record),July 2007 (heavy), June 2008 (light), August 2008 (light), August 2014 (moderate) and June 2016 (light). Ballarat’s highest maximum recorded temperature was 44.1 °C (111 °F) on 7 February 2009 during the 2009 southeastern Australia heat wave. This was 2.1 °C (3.8 °F) above the previous record of 42.0 °C (108 °F), set on 25 January 2003. The lowest-ever recorded minimum was −6.3 °C (21 °F) at sunrise on 19 July 2015.