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Top 5 family-friendly things to do in Ballarat

Visit Ballarat

10 Mar 2022

Filed underMade of Ballarat

Getting the kids to switch off from technology is no easy feat, but you’ll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Ballarat that will certainly have them looking away from the screen for a weekend. 

Your next holiday memories could be flooding with fun activities like feeding kangaroos to panning for gold, all you need to do is pack the car and hit the road to Ballarat. 
1. Pan for gold at Sovereign Hill 
Sovereign Hill recreates Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851, when thousands of international adventurers rushed to the Australian goldfields in search of fortune. 
It’s just like stepping back in time — experience the excitement of the diggings where you can pan for real gold and travel through an underground mine, or simply wander the bustling Main Street where you can catch a coach ride, shop for sweet boiled lollies and make your own candles. 

Experience the excitement of the discovery of gold in Ballarat, just like thousands of ambitious miners did back in 1851. Image: Matt Dunne.

2. Ride a vintage tram around Lake Wendouree 
From 2 October 2022, 100 year old trams will operate along an original section of the Wendouree Parade on freshly laid track. Don’t miss the Tramway reopening celebration with steam traction engine, paddle steamer and miniature railway rides, plus displays of model railways and vintage cars, trucks and buses.

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The Ballarat Tramway Museum was formed to preserve the tramway experience that existed on the streets of Ballarat from 1887 to 1971. 

3. Feed the kangaroos at the Ballarat Wildlife Park 
Get up close and feed the free-roaming kangaroos and admire koalas, wombats, little penguins and other Australian native animals at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Around the park you will also see cheeky meerkats, dingoes and emus, as well as the park’s most popular inhabitants, Crunch the five-metre crocodile and a Sumatran tiger. 

Spend time one-on-one with an animal during an Animal Encounter experience at the Ballarat Wildlife Park. Image Matt Dunne.

4. Explore accessible nature 
Whether you’re a family who prefers to picnic in the park, or one that’s up for cycling adventures in the bush, you’ll find plenty of options to catch some fresh air away from screens in Ballarat. 
For the perfect picnic location, you’re going to want to check out the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Let the kids roam through 100-year-old trees as you relax with a grazing board. When you find you’re ready to stretch your legs, an easy 6km walk around Lake Wendouree awaits. Lake Wendouree is also home to plenty of playgrounds, and the pedal boats are always a fun option for families of all ages.

For activities to get the heart pumping a little harder, you’ve got the option of hiking to the top of an extinct volcano – Mount Buninyong, or hiring bikes and checking out one of the region’s cycling trails like the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail

A little further afield and you can throw in a rod at Smeaton’s Tuki Trout Farm and let the kids fish for their lunch.

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Another great place to take the kids is St George’s Lake, Creswick.

 5. Art Gallery of Ballarat 
It’s the oldest regional gallery in Australia, and if that’s not enough to impressive you, then wait until we tell you how big its permanent collection is. 
With 11,000 artworks on rotation from the permanent collection, your little ones will always find inspiration to create their own artworks at one of the gallery’s creative spaces. 

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During the school holidays the Art Gallery of Ballarat ramps up its art classes and workshops for children, so keep an eye open for these. 

Some other popular attractions to take the kids include the Eureka Centre and Kryal Castle.

Looking for somewhere to eat?

When it’s time to refuel, we like to head to Hydrant Food Hall. Sit down for rainbow pancakes (and maybe lemon meringue waffles and coffee for the parents) before heading off on your next adventure in Ballarat.

Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.