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48 hours at Ballarat Heritage Weekend

Make the most of Ballarat's annual celebration of its rich culture and history

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People crossing street in Ballarat CBD
Photograph: Tony Evans

For one weekend only Ballarat will be pulling out all the stops to host a huge party celebrating the city’s heritage. From Saturday May 25 to Sunday May 26, Ballarat Heritage Weekend turns the old gold rush town into a thriving hub of history, culture and performance. And you can be a part of it – here’s how to make the most of your weekend at the event.

Saturday morning
All aboard! Start your stay in Ballarat with a 45-minute ride on an old steam engine. The train you’ll be riding on, Ballarat Y112, is almost 130 years-old, so you can bet it’s had some interesting passengers onboard during its lifetime. Trains depart from Ballarat Train Station starting from 9.45am and advance bookings are recommended.

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Saturday noon
All forms of facial hair are celebrated at Ballarat’s Beard and Stache Competition. Held by the Ballarat Beard and Moustache Union, the comp shares the stories behind every goatee, handlebar mo and luscious lumberjack beard. Competitors face off in categories such as 'full beard', 'moustache' and a freestyle section. 

Saturday evening
We love coffee and we love alcohol. History would suggest that we would love Coffee Exchange by Mr Black and history would be right. On the evening of May 25, Mr Black cold brew coffee liqueur will be hosting an evening of cocktails from Ballarat’s top watering holes. Expect everything from classic cocktails to weird and wacky contemporary creations.

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Sunday morning
After a leisurely breakfast (might we suggest a bite to eat at Yellow Espresso?) get on your bike, literally, and take part in the Tweed Ride. This two-wheeled group sojourn through the town encourages participants to dress up in their very best tweed (or similar) outfits. You’ll then be taken through Ballarat’s streets for a free tour where you’ll hear tales of the city and its impressive architecture.

Sunday noon
Discover the history and culture of the traditional owners of the land Ballarat sits on. The Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute is hosting an interactive and educational exhibition on the Wauthaurong people of the Ballarat region, as well as those in greater Victoria. As well as sharing stories, history and culture, the exhibition will also give you the chance to try bush tea and some unusual creations from Saltbush Kitchen.

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Sunday evening
Wrap up your time at Ballarat Heritage Weekend with an old-timey horse and carriage ride. Cobb and Co will be offering short horse and carriage rides around Ballarat’s CBD, just like during the gold rush years. As well as being able to hop on board during the day, Cobb and Co are also offering nighttime rides in 2019, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

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