Exploring the region doesn't have to break the bank.
With both indoor facilities and open-air attractions opening up once more in regional Victoria, now is a great time to get planning a day out in Ballarat. While we encourage spending in local areas right now more than ever, if you want ideas for free things to do to round out your days or supplement more expensive activities, we’ve got you covered.
From art galleries to splash parks, here are some great choices for an unforgettable trip.
You’re spoiled for choice in Ballarat for ideas to soak up some culture. The Art Gallery of Ballarat, in the centre of the city, offers a host of changing exhibitions with free entry, and the 2one2m Photography Gallery and Studio on Mair Street exudes a relaxing vibe: enjoy the exhibits here over a hot drink. The Tramway Museum, Australia’s first solar-powered tramway, also makes for a fascinating excursion and can be found on Wendouree Parade.
“Ballarat is richly served with markets; keep an eye on local listings for more information on the wealth of markets where you can uncover vintage treasures, regional delicacies and handmade crafts” says Pierre Frazier, a travel blogger at Writinity and Research Papers UK.
There are plenty of options for active days out in Ballarat. Try Goldfields Track, which offers an overall 210 km route for cyclists and hikers to explore the region. Koala Park, part of the Creswick Regional Park, is also a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and active, and a visitor guide and map can be downloaded from their website so that you can make the most of your day.
Victoria Park, in the centre of the city, is a great choice for families, offering walking routes, sports ovals, sheltered areas, picnic tables as well as an inclusive play-space.
Lake Wendouree is a man-made and maintained shallow urban lake that has been a community destination for over 150 years. Located in central Ballarat next to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the lake also offers many recreational activities. You can have fun canoeing, kayaking and sailing the lake; running around the lake; or you can even try your hand at swimming.
Soak up some of the region’s history with these ideas for free days out! The Former Wesleyan Church and Sunday School on Dana Street provides a fascinating insight into Ballarat’s Wesleyan community as well as featuring historically notable architecture. The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial is located within the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (found on Carlton Street) and is a tranquil space for reflection.
“The Eureka Stockade Memorial Park on Stawell Street South is well worth a visit, too; the gardens commemorate the 1854 Rebellion and feature a lake with walking route around, picnic tables, a playground and plaques giving information about the site’s significance,” says Christian Carlos, a travel writer at Draft Beyond and Last minute writing.
Fun with the Kids
Get the kids on board with a trip to the playground; or how about a trip to the Creswick Skate and Splash Park. The Skate Park, featuring ledges and pyramids, is open year round, while the Splash Park, complete with a water tower and tunnels, operates on a seasonal basis. The Sebastopol Aquatic Playspace is another option for watery fun and is found south of the city centre and boasts water cannons, sprinklers and tipping buckets – this facility is also open on a seasonal basis.
The Albert H Graham Reserve is a playspace located on the corner of Peel and Eastwood Streets, and features a basketball court, play equipment and picnic tables, perfect for an afternoon out with the kids.
Unwind in one of the city’s beautiful botanic gardens: the Buninyong Botanical Garden can be found on the corner of Scott and Inglis Streets and offers a wonderfully tranquil retreat: enjoy a walk around the grounds, taking in the ornamental pool and beautiful array of trees and flowering shrubs. The Ballarat Botanical Gardens is heritage listed, and is located on the western shore of Lake Wendouree. The Gardens are an important cool climate garden, and visitors can take in the marble statues around the grounds as well as the stunning collection of plants and flowers.
Let the Adventure Begin!
Ballarat offers a plethora of free of charge opportunities for great days out; as well as the ideas above, there are also maps available online for themed self-guided walking tours around the city, a great way to explore at your own pace. Online listings, too, can be found for the regular quiz evenings, garden tours and produce swap events that take place throughout the city. So now all that’s left for you to do is choose where to visit first!