Ballarat, Victoria travel guide and things to do: nine highlights

THE UNIQUE STAY

If you’re looking to set up a base in Ballarat for a day or two, the stunning Art Nouveau Provincial Hotel is the perfect place. Across the street from the train station on historic Lydiard Street, a few blocks from downtown, everything you need or want is within walking distance, so you don’t need a car. The in-house French restaurant, Lola, is worth the 90-minute trip from Melbourne on its own. See theprovincialballarat.com.au

THE ONE LANEWAY CAFE

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Everything old is new again in Ballarat, a city that excels in imaginative and stylish transformations and restorations of historic buildings. Hidden down an alley of a former warehouse, the Hydrant Foodhall is still filled with the original old sprinklers in the rafters with locals, who flock here for the all-day breakfasts, the mezze platter, the local Seed breads & Sprout and very interesting gluten. free and vegetarian fare. See thehydrant.com.au

THE UNIQUE WINE BAR

Just around the corner from Hydrant, the unmarked storefront that until May this year housed the ever-booked micro-restaurant Underbar for months to come, the Pencilmark Wine Room is the new place to go for a drink in Ballarat. With room for just 20 and around 100 bottles to try – around 20 by the glass – this is the latest adventure from chef and owner Derek Boath, the genius behind Underbar, so don’t expect anything ordinary when he these are bar snacks. See crayonmark.com.au

THE SINGLE ROOF

It’s not a real night out on the town these days without at least a stop at a rooftop bar, and Ellington’s Wine Bar is Ballarat’s first, and another new addition to Ballarat’s burgeoning bar scene. the city. Ballarat gets chilly in the winter, but much of the roof is covered and comfortably heated, so it’s a good place to end the night with a glass of something local and some French cheese. It also has a bottle store, if you want to take some of what you drink home. See ellingtonswinebar.com

THE ONLY BRUNCH IN THE COURTYARD

If there’s a better way to start the day than a crab omelette with limes and coconut sambal, eaten under a Hills hoist, we’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, this is just one of the all-day brunches you’ll find at the new Clothesline Cafe in an old suburban house in Bakery Hill. If you’re in a hurry, the banh mi to go or the baguette with roasted pumpkin, goat cheese and chermoula are just as good. See clotheslinecafe.com.au

THE SINGLE DOOR OF THE CELLAR

The Kilderkin Distillery has been making gin by hand in Ballarat since 2017 under the Larrikin Gin label, but they’ve just opened a new cellar door that looks more like a bar in a former wool blanket warehouse next to Yarraway Creek, meaning you can now enjoy a G&T – or gin tasting flight – and a cheese platter at one of the large wooden tables or comfortably seated on the sofa with a cocktail. Unique drinks to try include the pretty herbal Pink Scarlet Begonia from the Ballarat Botanic Gardens and the Sunburnt Country bush tucker gin, bottled at 50.7%, matching the highest summer temperature ever recorded in Australia . Wine and craft beer are also available, and the first batch of whiskey will be available soon. See kilderkindistillery.com.au

THE UNIQUE GALLERY

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It’s nothing new – in fact, it’s the oldest regional art gallery in the country – but beyond the permanent collection of some 11,000 works by the biggest names in Australian art (they’re not not all exhibited at the same time), there is always something new to see at Ballarat Art Gallery. Current exhibits include historical goldfield watercolors, ceramics, and crochet chicken dinners. Plan your visit to include the free guided tour each day at 11am. The gift shop, which is full of works by local artists, is worth a visit on its own. See artgalleryofballarat.com.au

THE SINGLE FLAG

It’s been a symbol of rebellion and defiance since it was first flown on Ballarat’s Bakery Hill in 1854, but you can’t leave town without seeing the original Southern Cross flag, flown during the Battle of Eureka Stockade, the cradle of modern Australian democracy. . The slightly tattered remains are on display at the Eureka Center in the Eureka Stockade Memorial Park, where the rebellion took place. See eurekacentreballarat.com.au

THE RARE ARTS CENTER

The current building on the former site of the Gold Museum opposite Sovereign Hill is still under construction – due to open in September – but you can already sign up for masterclasses in everything from basketry and netsuke wood carving to knife making and goldsmithing at the new Center for Rare Arts and Forgotten Crafts. Sure to appeal to weekend enthusiasts and master craftsmen with a rotating program of workshops, talks and exhibitions whose aim is to “protect, promote and pass on the rare arts and forgotten crafts that are at risk of vanish”. It also looks like a lot of fun. See raretradescentre.com.au

ONE MORE THING

One for the newspaper, Hotel Vera, a stunning seven-suite transformation of a 150-year-old former doctor’s residence in the city center, is set to open in spring 2022. The contemporary-style luxury suites will be a reason enough to stay, but it will also house the new Underbar, Ballarat’s ultimate fine dining restaurant. With seating for just 14 people, you’ll need to book in advance. See hotelballarat.com.au

The writer visited as a guest of Ballarat City Council. See visitballarat.com.au


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