Summers in Ballarat are all about outdoor adventures and making the most of the longer days to reconnect with friends and family.
From live music in the beautiful surrounds of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and afternoons swimming in the region’s fresh water swimming holes, to cocktails in the sun and late night catch ups at Ballarat’s trendiest restaurants and bars, there’s plenty to see and do.
So, what are you waiting for, get out your phone and call someone you love to catch up in Ballarat this summer.
Avoid the long queues and overcrowded beaches this summer and opt for a relaxing day at one of the region’s many swimming holes.
From fishing and kayaking at Lake Burrumbeet, to swimming among the tranquil surrounds of Calembeen Park and St George’s Lake, it’s a sure-fire way of cooling down this summer.
If you prefer to see the bottom of a pool, then head to one of Ballarat’s outdoor swimming pools or splash parks.
There are plenty of free barbeques around Ballarat, you just need to know where to look. Some of our favourite places to catch up for a barbeque include by the playgrounds at Lake Wendouree, Lake Esmond and the Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens. You’ll also find BBQ facilities at many of the city’s pools and splash parks.
If cooking over a hotplate isn’t for you, then grab your favourite takeaway and head to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens or Kirk’s Reservoir for a picnic in the park.
Many of our favourite brewpubs and wine bars, like Aunty Jacks, Hop Temple and RJM’s Wine Bar, schedule live music throughout summer. What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon that in good company, while listening to great tunes and sampling Ballarat’s finest drops.
You can also catch the sounds of Harry James Angus (The Cat Empire), Australian rock icon Adalita (Magic Dirt) and The Soul Movers who will headline Ballarat’s Summer Sundays this 9, 16, 23 and 30 January under the shade of 100-year-old trees at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
The pop-up Ballarat Boom Box will also host a series of free live music performances to the city’s streets every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5-8pm.
Local poet Megan J Riedl and songstress Amie Brulee are also taking their talents outdoors this summer. In this series of short outdoor concerts, you’ll hear originals, vintage favourites and European classics from the most unconventional of surroundings.
Get the crew together for a boozy afternoon in the sun. From French Martinis from Clara – a cocktail caravan in the charming courtyard at The Provincial Hotel (main picture) – to cider and cheese boards from Airstream bar Little Sid and floral-infused gin in the sun at Johnny Alloo, your options are endless.
If you prefer a cold brew, then why not get the crew together and sign up to Beer School at Aunty Jacks.
Why dine indoors when you can dine under the stars. Ballarat’s balmy evenings make dining outdoors the best way to eat and drink your way around the city this summer. From woodfired pizza by the team at The Forge, seared scallops in the courtyard at Restaurant Lola, and fried chicken at Hop Temple’s beer garden, to wine and cheese at Mitchell Harris, fish tacos at Pancho and Vietnamese street food at Saigon Allee, you’re spoilt for choice.
Some of our other favourite places to eat with seating outdoors include Meigas, Lake View, The North Star, The Yacht Club, The Western and The Shared Table.
For breakfast in the sun we like to head to Johnny Alloo, Drive, Websters Market and Café or Higher Society.
Every January, the gates to open at one of Victoria’s oldest blueberry farms, Buninyong Blueberries.
Towards the end of summer, the Britt family host their annual Pick Your Own Sunflowers at their Dunnstown farm. Every year, thousands of road trippers converge on this small country town to get that perfect shot amongst the sea of giant yellow sunflowers.
Come February and it’s all about beer. The Ballarat Beer Festival is where you’ll want to be on 19 February. Sample the region’s best craft beer, wine and cider, listen to live music and enjoy global cuisines from your favourite food trucks.
Jump on board the Golden City Paddle Steamer, a replica of its namesake which operated on the lake from the mid-1880s, and enjoy a leisurely cruise across Lake Wendouree. The cruises operate most Sundays (weather permitting).
On January 26, the Golden City Paddle Steamer Museum Society will host a series of free activities as part of their Australiana Day program, including free paddle boat rides, Australian bird and fish of the lake tours and Australian botany of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens guided tours. You can view the full program here.
If you would prefer to steer your own boat, then why not hire a pedal boat? Available every day from 10am-7pm (weather dependant), you’ll find these fun boats at the north end of Windmill Drive.
Between 11am and 4pm every weekend, you can also take a ride on a 100-year-old tram run by the Ballarat Tramway Museum.
While you’re out exploring lake Wendouree, why not stop for a scoop or two of ice cream from the Tramcar Ice Cream Co, located right by the Adventure Playground.
Back in town, you’ll find some of the best artisan gelato in Ballarat being served at Il Piccolo.
The team at Roy Hammond has also released a Matcha and Yuja (traditional Korean tea) ice cream this summer.
Also keep an eye out on the Vegas and Rose Insta for their opening days this summer. Behind this secret pink door you’ll discover ice cream sandwiches, brownies and frappes.
Situated about 30 minutes outside of Ballarat, the Pyrenees wine region is the sort of place you drop in for a couple of days and find yourself wanting to go back time and time again.
Whether you’re planning a summer day trip with the girls or you’re in the mood to spontaneously hit the road, point your car in the direction of the Pyrenees and there’s no chance you’ll be disappointed.
From boutique wineries overlooking vineyards and cosy cafes housed in historic buildings, it is easy to eat and drink your way around the Pyrenees over a weekend.
Expect wine tastings to turn into a long lunch at Blue Pyrenees Estate, play giant chess while you pick at grazing boards piled high with local produce at Bigibila Wines, or sip away of refreshing gin at Mrs Baker’s Still House.
Discover more about the Pyrenees wine region
Between Melbourne and Ballarat, you’ll discover a bunch of small country towns just waiting to be explored.
Sip your way around the region, starting with wine and cheese platters at St Anne’s Wine in Myrniong. If you’re in Ballan then head to The Wine & Deli Co before grabbing ice cream from Sweet N Sassy.
If beer is more your thing, then you’ll love The Local Taproom in Bacchus Marsh.
Then check into The Garden of St Erth and sleep under the stars in the secluded Wombat State Forest.