Historic Ballarat is an easy hour’s drive from Melbourne and a great place for families to explore Australian history, appreciate art, challenge their sense of fair play, frolic in the outdoors and get up close to Australian wildlife. Rich history abounds, together with a fresh new energy that sizzles with incredible food shopping, modern arts and culture. Plan your family visit around the obvious attractions of The Eureka Centre, Sovereign Hill and Ballarat Wildlife Park and enjoy the beauty of regional Victoria all in an easy weekend away
Morning: Make your first stop at The Eureka Centre
The Eureka Centre is a really cool place to visit! You can find it in the Eureka Stockade Memorial Park, which is where a big rebellion happened way back in 1854. The Eureka Centre has something really special inside – the Eureka Flag! This flag is very important because it represents a fight for fair treatment for miners in Australia.
When you visit the Eureka Centre, you can learn all about what happened during the gold rush in Victoria, and how it affected the people who lived there. There are lots of interesting things to see and do, and you can even learn about the brave men and women who stood up for what they believed in and fought for miners’ rights. It’s a great way to learn about history and have fun at the same time!
Finish your visit with a delicious, colourful and quirky meal at the Lilly’s at Eureka. The Goldmine Pancakes are a must-try – they’re covered in ‘gold’ flakes and come with chocolate ‘dirt’ for kids to search for hidden candy gems. The café is next to Eureka Stockade Gardens, where there’s a playground, pool, and splash park (open when it’s warm).
Afternoon: Indulge in a double adventure, with arty indoors and outdoors play time
The Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest and largest regional art gallery in Australia. There is art from the earliest period of European settlement to the present day, and regular new exhibits to keep you coming back. There is also a fine and growing collection of Australia Indigenous art. The Gallery is committed to supporting the making of, and appreciation for, the visual arts in the Ballarat region. A large selection of children’s activities and learning experiences are on offer suitable for all ages, from toddlers to teens.
Then head for the outdoors and explore Ballarat Botanical Gardens, overlooking picturesque Lake Wendouree. The beautiful gardens are spread over 409ha and feature sculptures and a dedicated lakeside walk. Kids will love the creative and cool adventure playground with its timber fort; slides and swings, a tee pee, monkey rings and balance beams, sandpit and a wooden train. Get ready to watch your kids magically turn this playground break into hours of play and imagination.
Evening: Time for a tasty dinner in Ballarat
End your first day at Ballarat with a tasty dinner at The Forge Pizzeria! They’re known for creating mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas using fresh local produce and high-quality deli ingredients. They’re passionate about pizza perfection and creating a fun, laid-back atmosphere for their guests to enjoy. This family-favourite place is perfect for kids too, with delicious pizzas and friendly staff to make everyone feel welcome.
Morning: Time travel to Ballarat's gold rush era at Sovereign Hill
Take your time at Sovereign Hill, Australia’s favourite outdoor museum where the settlement of Ballarat in its first decade after the discovery of gold in 1851, is recreated. Australia’s very own Gold Rush saw thousands of international adventurers flocking to these Australian goldfields in search of fortune.
Sovereign Hill lets you step back in time from the moment you enter the original Main Street, with costumed ladies and gents of yesteryear parading, and soldiers marching along with great theatre. Pan for gold at the Red Hill Gully Diggings where it’s finders, keepers! Ride stagecoach, visit the original schoolhouse or watch old-fashioned boiled lollies being made, candle making, wheel craftsmanship and so much more.
Bring your own lunch for a picnic or buy a tasty treat from the original-style shops, including the bakery and café. You can even grab a bonus ticket that allows you to come back free the next day! There are so many special events at Sovereign Hill – a Lights Spectacular and Winter Wonderland to name just two –so check the dates to plan your visit so you don’t miss out!
Afternoon: Visiting Ballarat Wildlife Park
Ballarat Wildlife Park is the perfect place for kids to get up close to native animals including giant tortoises, koalas, wombats, various birdlife, crocodiles, and Tasmanian Devils. In the open area, come face to face with a mob of the friendliest kangaroos you may ever encounter (they love having their necks scratched). For curious older kids, plan your time around the regular keeper talks where they will learn all about the animals and experience the occasional hands- on encounter. Get your camera ready for all the fabulous photo opportunities.
Evening: Medieval dinner show at Kryal Castle
Only available on selected dates, plan your visit around an evening dinner show or feast at Kryal Castle just 8km east of Ballarat. The Castle reopened in 2013 and is Australia’s only medieval theme park – a legendary land of myth and medieval adventure with knights, dragons, wizards, kings, queens, princesses, fairies and so much more. This night time taste of Kryal Castle will have your kids begging to come back to experience the fantastic adventure park by day.