Luxury holidays in Ballarat

The gold rush may be over, but that hasn’t dented the fortunes of this shiny, happy city in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The city’s heavy-metal heritage can be seen in its grand architecture, but it’s become a modern foodie destination thanks to its craft beer obsession and damn fine local wines. The city’s also home to Australia’s largest regional art gallery — the Art Gallery of Ballarat houses Australian art ranging from colonial to cutting edge. Get a sense of the swinging sixties (1860s, that is) at Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum that recreates the gold mining days, complete with costumed actors and horse-drawn carriages; or, have close encounters of the marsupial kind with koalas, kangaroos, wombats and Tasmanian Devils at the Ballarat Wildlife Park before a serene stroll through the oak avenues and fern-fringed conservatories of the Botanical Gardens. Golden days, indeed.

When to go

The very warmest time is during the height of Australian summer, from late January to early February, when temperatures average 28 degrees. For a smorgasbord of the best of Ballarat’s food scene, visit during the Plate Up Festival in May: the month-long foodie festival showcases local producers, boutique vintners and craft beer brewers.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Melbourne Tullamarine and Avalon airport is 117 kilometres away (a two-hour drive).
  • Trains

    Ballarat station connects Ballarat to Melbourne and Bendigo.
  • Automobiles

    It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Melbourne.