Ballarat, also spelled Ballarat, is the largest inland city located in the state of Victoria, Australia. If you decide to travel to Ballarat to check out this historic gold rush town, be sure to invest in online travel insurance; it will give you peace of mind while you travel, for only a few dollars.
Ballarat was founded by a Scottish man named Archibald Yuille, a squatter, who decided to camp on what is now known as Lake Wendouree in 1837. The name of the city comes from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat, thought to mean “resting place”. Shortly after Victoria separated from New South Wales, in 1851, James Regan and John Dunlop discovered gold at Poverty Point and the area was transformed from a sheep station to a large settlement.
By 1852, more than 20,000 gold-diggers had arrived in the area, with hopes ofmaking their fortune. With all the influx of fortune hunters, the government set up a licencing system and tried to enforce it; the police were very ruthless and went about collecting the fees with no sympathy for the diggers. Licence checks were conducted twice a week, because the miners didn’t really obey the law.
Violence was common at that time, with murders, riots and fires. Part of the reason for violence was the miners’ demands for abolishment of the licensing system.
Ballarat became a municipality in 1855, and in 1858, a giant gold nugget, one of the biggest ever found in the country, was discovered on Bakery Hill. The gold rush started to dwindle after that, and by the 1860s, there was very little chance of finding any gold in the area.
Of course, by that time, Ballarat was established and other businesses had sprung up to support the town.
The railway came to town in 1862, and even more businesses began to flourish. By then, the town had enough industry and services, like hotels, shops, trades businesses, and markets, to support the needs of its people. Miners’ tents and shanties were replaced by permanent stone, brick, and wood buildings, many of which are still there today. It was a full-fledged city by 1870.
A STRING OF NATURAL DISASTERS
After the turn of the century, the city started to decline and was beset with several disasters in a short period of time: a rail disaster in 1908 that caused dozens of deaths; and a great storm in 1909 that destroyed homes and businesses, killed one person, and hurt seven others.
The city today is approximately 105 kilometers from Melbourne, and has an urban population of close to 100,000 people. It enjoys visits from over 2 million people a year and has a thriving tourism industry. There are many heritage activities in Ballarat, such as visits to the open-air museum Sovereign Hill, which recreates the old mining settlement of the 1850s.
Other tourist activities include visits to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the Ballarat Tramway Museum, the Gold Museum, and Ballarat Ghost Tours.
Take a stroll down the 2-kilometre long boulevard of Sturt Street; the city is renowned for its wide boulevards and gardens. You’ll see statuary, monuments, bandstands, lampposts and memorials.