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Wander Ballarat’s historic Main Road

Visit Ballarat

08 Jul 2020

Filed underSee & Do

It’s old meets modern at Ballarat’s charming Main Road.

Like many of Ballarat streets in the 1850’s, Main Road was at the centre of mining life. The road was a mass of tightly packed houses wedged between its numerous hotels and specialty stores, and became known for its entertainment and revelry.
Prior to settlement, the natural landscape of swampy vegetation was an important food and medicinal source to the local Wadawurrung.

Today it’s home to award-winning dining experiences, the city’s best secondhand shopping and, not one, but two of Ballarat’s most iconic Instagram-worthy locations.

It might be the new kid on the block, but The Known World Bookshop has long held a soft spot in the heart of Ballarat book lovers. 
It’s the place you head for an original classic or for a gift you know is one of a kind.

Walk through the door and you’ll be greeted by owner Michelle and her dog Brian. And while Brian’s customer service is top notch, it’s Michelle who always goes above and beyond to help you find your next page turner.
So whether you have something in mind, or you’re feeling inspired to pick up a book this winter, you’re going to want to spend time perusing Michelle’s hand-curated collection of beautiful books. 

What we also love about this worldly bookshop is that its interior has you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.
So too does the Main Road streetscape, particularly the Main Bar shopfront which takes inspiration from the street’s gold rush past. For those who love a good photo opportunity, this one is perfect.Image

Main Bar Tara Moore

But it’s the larger than life mural that adorns the side the of the Mr Jones building that you’re definitely going to want to get your camera out for.

This original work by Travis Price – a renowned local illustrator who has worked with brands including Marvel, Pearl Jam and Nike – tells the story of Main Road’s long list of hotels that used to preside over the bustling historic street.Image

Travis Price

While you’re down that end of the street, why not pop into Mr Jones. Open for dine-in or takeaway this winter, it’s the perfect place to tantalise your tastebuds – especially if you love modern Asian as much as we do.

You’ll certainly enjoy the caramalised salmon, green papaya, lemongrass and nahm jim betel leaf, and even more so the pickled king brown mushrooms and ginger. 

The hardest decision you’ll have to make about chefs Damien and Danielle’s (the masterminds behind the previously hatted Catfish Thai) set winter menu is deciding what drop to pair with each course. Even then you’re spoilt for choice, but we highly recommend tasting a local wine or two during the course of your night.

Last year, Mr Jones added breakfast and lunch to the mix. We can’t wait for a post-COVID world when this is back on the cards.

Mr Jones credit
Captured by via @mrjonesdining

We also look forward to the re-opening of The Building. You won’t find single use cups at this cafe, but you will find delicious coffee and a scrumptious locally-sourced brunch menu. You can also catch live music here, so keep an eye on their socials for updates.

If secondhand shopping is more your thing, then set some time aside to wander the isles of Antiques Ballarat and The Main Emporium. From eclectic collectables, to fashion and antique furniture, you’ll find time passes by quickly as you start to unearth the goodies on these shelves.

You’ll also unearth a fashionable treasure or two at The Dressing Room Recycled.


The City of Ballarat acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land we live and work on, the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung People, and recognises their continuing connection to the land and waterways. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend this to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.