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A couple by a dam an a caravan stay
Photograph: Shannyn Higgins

Five brand new places to check out on your next trip to Ballarat

Here are hip new stays, shops, cafés, bars and restaurants to add to your itinerary

By Time Out in association with Visit Ballarat
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Ballarat’s cultural reinvention continues from strength to strength, with exciting new venues opening each month to keep you coming back for more. Be wined, dined and accommodated at these fascinating cellar doors, restaurants and stays that rival the big cities in cool factor. Whether you’re a first-time explorer or seasoned appreciator of this gold rush town, put these places on your schedule for a guaranteed good time.

A glam caravan (glamavan?) with a punny name and a breathtaking location  

You’ll find the phrase ‘luxe bush camping’ needn’t be an oxymoron after meeting Jean-Claude, a 1970s York caravan that’s been lovingly restored by boutique accommodation company Wonder Inns. It sits by a tranquil dam on their leafy Mount Helen property (Jean-Claude… van… dam…get it?), and is furnished with handpicked vintage décor, a king-sized bed draped in soft French linen, air-con and heating, plus games and a nook for reading in. The van is also accompanied by its own amenities shack with a hot shower, toilet and covered mini kitchen complete with fridge, esky and barbecue. Expect mornings of dappled sunlight and brekky fry-ups, afternoons relaxing by the water and listening to birdsong, and evenings stargazing over a few glasses of wine.

A neighbourhood enoteca with old-school charm and rooftop views

With a jazz-heavy soundtrack, sunny rooftop terrace and meticulously chosen wine list, Ellington’s is quickly becoming one of Ballarat’s favourite new places to drink. The European-inspired neighbourhood wine bar is all about helping guests discover their next favourite producer. They’re pouring both local and international drops to go with small, snacky plates – think chicken liver pâté with sourdough from establishment 1816 Bakehouse, or olives ascolane (crumbed, fried olives stuffed with veal and parmesan). The bar’s interior is full of warmth via sunlight and wood accents, but on balmy nights you’ll want to head upstairs for fresh air and views over Sturt Street.

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The home of Larrikin Gin will soon have a new cellar door 

Did you know that Ballarat opened Victoria’s first legal gin and whisky distillery in the 1860s? Since its closure in the 1930s, locals were waiting for someone to revive the trade, making Kilderkin Distillery’s launch a few years ago a fêted affair. Owners Chris Pratt and Rebecca Mathews are planning to open a brand-new cellar door this autumn for classes, tours and tastings, and we expect Ballarat’s discerning drinkers will be first in line. Their signature Australian ‘Larrikin’ gin is infused with lemon myrtle and hints of spice, while bottles of their cherry-flavoured gin and apple pie liqueur make great gifts.

This local artist creates cute things – and can teach you to as well

Kelsie White’s dreamy watercolours turn plants, fruits and everyday items into objects of delight. The multi-hyphenate local artist (she’s also a graphic designer, social media manager, and studying for a masters of education since you ask) has opened up a new workshop and boutique in Barkly Square, where she’s running beginner watercolour classes and drop-in painting sessions every Saturday morning. Limited to just ten people, each session is intimate and welcoming, with guests encouraged to have fun, play with paint and develop their own artistic style. Otherwise, you can also drop by the boutique to purchase Kelsie’s gorgeous art on prints, cards, tote bags and jumpers.

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Get a premium brekky and a Five Senses coffee in a tucked-away location

Ballarat’s thriving coffee scene has a charismatic new addition in Hideaway Coffee Bar, a hybrid venue in the peaceful suburb of Brown Hill. On Mondays and Tuesdays it operates as a pint-sized coffee van steaming up takeaway joe and pastries for busy mornings, while the rest of the week their café opens for dine in. Make a date there for zjuzjed-up brunch dishes including banoffee French toasts and charred salmon eggs bennies, all paired perfectly with heart-starting Five Senses coffee.

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