Don’t let a little rain dampen your spirits.
It is winter after all. So, when it’s wet outside, head indoors and let the locals treat you to something a little more warming.
Put your feet up, relax and take Ballarat at a slower pace. It’s truly the best way to make the most of a rainy day.
From the moment you step inside you’re welcomed by a cosmic display of colour that instantly has you forgetting those grey skies outside.
Take your time, wander the gallery and admire works that have been purposely placed to take you on a journey of old meets new.
See fine art from Australian painter Eugene Von Guerard that depicts a tent-sprawled Ballarat from the summer of 1853-54, to modern works by local Wadawurrung artists Aunty Marlene Gilson and Deanne Gilson.
Sitting pretty in a heritage building that was once filled with miners is Collins Booksellers Ballarat, today a must-visit on any book-lovers’ bucket list.
Step inside this Lydiard Street store, and you’ll instantly be transported back in time, with old-style bookshelves lining the walls, timber floors and open fireplaces, heritage counter and old-fashioned signage. It gives off serious Harry Potter vibes, which explains why their Harry Potter themed school holiday programs are always a buzz.
The Known World Bookshop on the picturesque Main Road is another one of our favs.
If you’re travelling on the Western Highway from Melbourne you’ll see a big orange sign for The Amazing Mill Markets just before you hit Ballarat. Do not pass it, you’ll regret not venturing inside.
From pre-loved vinyl and vintage clothes, to collectables and antiques, you can easily spend an hour or two here.
Head into Ballarat and you’ll quickly find you’re spoilt for choice if rummaging through secondhand goods is your thing, including Rocket and Belle Antiques and Vintage, Alexa’s Treasures and Antik.
Stocking vintage clothing sourced from around the world is new shopfront, Grandad’s Sweater.
Put some “me time” at the top of your to-do list this winter and leave life’s stresses at the door of one of Ballarat’s blissful day spas, whether you’re looking to wind down after a morning of shopping with a facial at Elysium Day Spa or you’re looking to escape for a few hours during one of Ballarat Sanctuary Day Spa’s award-winning spa journeys.
Wander down the hidden laneway by The Lost Ones Maker Studio and you’ll find a door leading to the very dark and moody 18th Amendment Bar. You’ll be taken back in time to Chicago speakeasy bars during the Prohibition years, but expect plenty of modern innovation on the drinks menu.
Keep an eye out for their regular whisky masterclasses.
New to town is Renard. This self-titled bistro-esque discotheque is Ballarat’s newest cocktail bar and social club.
Made for pre and post-dinner drinks, this new Mair Street venue also serves small snackable dishes to pick at, such as Meredith’s goat’s cheese doughnuts and truffled honey, oysters with green mignonette and, fried Jerusalem artichoke with miso cream.
There’s something nostalgic about walking into an old pub, shrugging off your raindrop covered jacket and sitting down for a good hearty pub meal that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Well you’re in luck because Ballarat knows good pubs. The ol’ fashioned pub has been at the heart of city since the gold rush, when more than 500 pubs operated across the goldfields.
Today, many of those same pubs still operate having been tastefully restored. In fact, the city’s variety in pubs was one of the reasons it was named Australia’s Top Pub Town in 2018.
From your own cosy dining room at The North Britain, to craft beer on tap at The Mallow and modern eats at the newly-renovated North Star, you’re in for a one-of-a-kind pub experience.
Cook gnocchi like Nonna used to make, paint like Picasso or channel Demi Moore’s famous pottery wheel scene from Ghost.
Overseas travel might be off the cards for a while yet, but you can still take your tastebuds on a global food discovery at one of Ballarat’s internationally-inspired restaurants and cafes.
Indulge in the delicacies of an Asian street market, French patisserie or South American tienda without the need of a long international flight or the threat of excess baggage charges.
If craft beer is your thing, then you’re in luck. Get the crew together for some brew grub and craft beer at popular watering hole, Hop Temple, take in the scenes of a working brewery and beer school at Aunty Jacks, or chat with a brewer at one of the city’s many microbreweries.
For cider, Café Sidra is where you’ll want to be. And as for the best local drops, you’re going to need to book a night or two because there’s too much to try in one day.
Take home a little bit of Ballarat with you – from locally made candles from the Essential Candle Co and handmade Ruby Pilven ceramics from Hattie & the Wolf, to Australian bushfoods from Saltbush Kitchen and silky smooth Lucky & James chocolate from Campanas, what better excuse to restock the pantry (and your wardrobe).