Forget all about the fear of cancelled flights because there are plenty of reasons why a road trip to Ballarat is all you need this winter.
Food. Tick. Cosy fireplaces. Check. Lots of fun things to do. Certainly!
Here’s our guide to where to eat and drink. And don’t forget to leave time for activities, because there’s plenty to do…
Mitchell Harris Wine Bar
If you’re looking for somewhere to catch up with an old friend for a good ol’ chin-wag, then pull up a pew by the fire and order a mulled cider at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar. It’s moody, cosy and exactly what we need when the weather outside is frightful!
We highly recommend the crisp potato pizza with sage, rosemary, parmesan and truffle oil, or the grazing board. Well actually the whole menu is worth ordering, so clear your schedule and settle in for the afternoon.
Ballarat’s newest café is proving very popular with the locals. And you know what they say; go where the locals go.
The food here is not only delicious, but super Instagramable (it’s like art on a plate). It’s almost too good to eat (almost!).
The North Star Hotel
If you like a view with your lunch then make a booking at The North Star Hotel. Smack-bang in the middle of this iconic pub is a sky-high glass atrium. Sit under the leafy indoor tree and soak up those wintry sunrays while you sip on handmade cocktails and your favourite hearty plates of pub classics.
For a good cup of locally-made hot chocolate head to Higher Society. Serving Ballarat’s own Grounded Pleasure cocoa, you’ll also receive not one, but two giant fluffy marshmallows from the Grounded Pleasures range.
A hot chocolate goes perfectly with Higher’s strawberry ricotta hotcakes with vanilla bean ice-cream, pistachio crumb and Persian floss.
Pop by for a casual pot by the roaring fire or sign up for Beer School – an hour of learning and sipping on samples is a mighty fine way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.
Michael Unwin Wines
Does anything pair better with winter than a glass of red! We don’t think so either.
Head out through Ballarat’s picturesque Avenue of Honour and you’ll discover Michael Unwin Wines – the ideal spot for tastings.
And believe it or not, but Michael Unwin Wines also features a ‘fill your own’ cellar door range, where you can bring along and fill your own bottle.
For post and pre-dinner drinks we highly recommend new social club and cocktail bar, Renard.
Whether you like sharing jugs with the gals, or you’re looking to impress a date with a fancy cocktail suggestion, the bartenders here can certainly help you out.
A short drive up the Western Highway you’ll find the very quaint village of Learmonth, the region’s cider capital.
Home to Learmonth Cider, Learmonth is also hosting its first Cider Festival this August.
While you’re there check out Café Sidra, the cellar door for Learmonth Cider and home to Little Sid – a very cool airstream bar.
Snap a selfie in Ballarat’s neon playground
There’s something magical about the darkness of winter. Throw in some neon and you’ve found yourself the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram post.
This winter, Melbourne visual artist Carla O’Brien – whose work you might remember from White Night, is bringing her neon art installations to Ballarat.
You’ll find these within the Sturt Street gardens from Friday 30 July.
Ballarat Mill Market
When it’s raining outside, we love to escape the chill by wandering the Ballarat Mill Market. You can easily spend a couple of hours here flicking through vinyl records, memorabilia and vintage clothing.
Art installation 1000 Doors– Door Within A Door is coming to Ballarat. Described as a haunting, claustrophobic maze, we’ve been told that every entrance into this house of possibility will begin at the same door, but no two visitors will leave the same as they entered.
Ballarat International Foto Biennale
Headlined by exclusive never-before-seen photographs, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale is the only chance you will have to see works by American photographer Linda McCartney in Australia.
Linda McCartney: Retrospective showcases some of the most iconic artists and moments from the 1960s music scene alongside intimate family portraits, including a series of prints from the McCartney’s time to Australia between 1975 and 1993.
Known for her portraits of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, among many others, she was the first female photographer whose work was featured as the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1968, with a portrait of Eric Clapton.
Ballarat International Foto Biennale runs from 28 August – 24 October.
Black Cat Truffles
If you call yourself a foodie then this is an experience you’re going to want to sign up to. Spend the morning searching for these delicious earthy treasures with the cutest truffle dogs, then find yourself a space to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Hot tip, the woodfired truffle pizza is delicious!