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  1. Croissants, loaves and sandwiches
    Photograph: Bueno Design1816 Bakehouse
  2. A man standing in front of a Ballarat mural
    Photograph: One Point PhotographyChef Tim Bone

Ten incredible food, drink and shopping experiences to try in Ballarat

Don’t just go and see Ballarat – you can eat it, drink it, buy it and take it home with you too

By Time Out in association with Visit Ballarat
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Ballarat and surrounds (Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung Country) is the home of many talented winemakers, brewers, producers and makers. Recently, Time Out and Visit Ballarat teamed up to host an event showcasing produce from the region: a three-course menu by Ballarat chef Tim Bone matched with a range of delicious drinks, snacks and items from local producers, bringing the best of Ballarat to the heart of Melbourne.

Missed it? Never fear. You can discover it all on your next trip to Ballarat, just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD. Here’s just some of what you can discover…

For more information on Ballarat head here

Where: At selected events

A popular community figure, Tim Bone is a Ballarat-based chef who rose to fame via a 2019 stint on MasterChef Australia. Tim’s work showcases bold, hearty flavours and honest home cooking. And what could be more honest in winter than a comforting toastie? Tim’s toasties use crisp toasted sourdough from Ballarat’s 1816 Bakehouse (see below), are doused in oozing melted cheese, crumbly feta or smooth Meredith Dairy goats cheese, layered with charcuterie and cold meats from Salt Kitchen Charcuterie, and filled with locally foraged fresh produce. Recipes range from ratatouille to porchetta to slow-roasted lamb and butter chicken. You can find Tim’s Toasties at the Bridge Mall Farmers’ Market and Ballarat Farmers’ Market; he also makes regular appearances at Michael Unwin Wines. Find Tim’s upcoming appearances here.

Where: 152 Eureka Street, Ballarat

Chef Dona and his partner Irene moved to Australia in 2009, opening Carboni’s Italian Kitchen in 2015. Here, Dona and Irene share their passion for authentic Italian recipes, most learnt in childhood from their parents and Nonnas. Experience authentic Italian food spanning woodfired Napoli cuisine and the fresh taste of Sicilian seafood cooking to bold handmade pasta dishes of Bologna and the fresh flavours of Florence. A crowd favourite dish is the Gnocchi Norcina – an Umbrian classic of potato gnocchi with a creamy sauce of pork and fennel sausage, seasonal mushrooms, black truffle and herbs topped with grana padano cheese. Learn some new skills including pasta making at Chef Dona’s cooking masterclasses, or pick up all your take-home deli needs at Carboni’s Next Door.

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Where: Try their brews at Campana’s Cellar and Deli, Eclectic Tastes Café & Pantry and the Mallow Hotel

Dollar Bill is Ed and Fiona’s Ballarat-based brewing and blending company. They take fresh pressed fruit, honey and wort from local producers, which is then fermented and aged in French oak barrels. These barrels are blended to create Belgian-inspired ales, ciders, mead and barrel-aged beers. Dollar Bill Brewing’s Gold Teeth 2021 was crowned Champion Australian Beer at the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards in Melbourne. Be sure to try the Dollar Bill Candy Paint Sour Cherry Wild Ale 2021, which is full of refined funk and linear acidity. Cheers!

Where: 18 Armstrong St North, Ballarat

Artisan sourdough bakery 1816 Bakehouse is led by head baker Josh Chapman, who brings sourdough breads, pastries, handmade pies and freshly filled sandwiches to the Ballarat community. Eateries around the region have been quick to use 1816 Bakehouse as a supplier and the baked goods can be found in many restaurants and cafés. The White Café Sourdough is a labour of love, each loaf taking three days: the bakehouse’s sourdough culture is mixed with Australian flour, water and little bit of salt, moulded by hand and baked fresh every day. Don’t go past a cinnamon scroll: the team at 1816 Bakehouse laminate their croissant pastry with housemade cinnamon butter, roll it up and bake into crisp-yet-soft scrolls. Once finished in the oven they are topped with cream cheese icing and a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Eat one with a barista-made morning or afternoon coffee and all will seem well in the world.

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Where: 610 Sturt Street, Ballarat

Here’s a gift idea that also makes a vivid memento of your trip to Ballarat. The Essential Candle Co have been burning the proverbial at both ends to make candles that please the senses while being kind to the earth. Their candles are hand poured using top-quality soy wax that is both biodegradable and free from pesticides. Double wicked with a cotton braid wick that is lead free, the candles come in reusable quality glassware topped with natural timber lids. The team handpicks and dehydrates 75 per cent of their homegrown flowers, fruits and herbs for the wax melts. Ingredients are never tested on animals and are also 100% vegan and Kosher. Drop in a say hi to Kristine and Jamie or book a candlemaking workshop.

​​Where: 10 Powells Road, Ballarat 

Michael Unwin and his wife Catherine run this family winery, processing and bottling wines on site from grapes sourced from their own local vineyards. Must-tries include the robust Michael Unwin Umbrella Man Verdejo 2020, which uses natural winemaking techniques with plenty of skin contact, Ballarat’s cold altitude making for a fully acidic wine demonstrating grapefruit and quince character. Michael Unwin Tattooed Lady Shiraz 2016 is aged for more than five years in 20-year-old barrels rather than in the bottle; silk-textured tannins frame a wine with aromatics and a bouquet of tobacco, black tea and liquorice. Visit Michael Unwin Wines’ cellar door where knowledgeable staff take visitors through One Goat, Tram Car, Umbrella Man and Tattooed Lady varieties. You can even bring along your own bottle and have it filled. 

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Where: 14A Hill Street, Mount Pleasant

Ballarat has a long history of distilling, both illicit and above board. In that tradition, Kilderkin Distillery is staffed by a bunch of good-natured larrikins who are serious about their gin and passionate about sustainability. Together they create Larrikin Gins and Liqueurs, artisan beverages using Australian botanicals. Original Larrikin Australian Gin has highlights of lemon myrtle and hints of spice and warmth from native botanicals. Backyard Limoncello is made with the peel of Aussie-grown Eureka lemons from Warby Range Citrus steeped in a specially distilled Larrikin gin with a hint of lemon myrtle. Sweet and zesty, this liqueur is created to enjoy as an aperitif, a digestif, or at any other time. Visit Kilderkin Distillery’s newly opened cellar door in Mount Pleasant for gin tasting flights and cocktails over cheese platters.

Where: 38 Doveton Street North, Ballarat

​​Winemaker John Harris works closely with growers in the Pyrenees, Macedon and Ballarat wine regions to craft wines with distinctive varietal expression that reflect the individual characters of vineyard, vintage and region. Mitchell Harris Pyrenees reds have Western Victorian pepper and spice, while the Sabre sparkling has a cool-climate focus and finesse. Get a glimpse into what makes the central and western Victorian wine growing regions so special by visiting the Mitchell Harris Wine Bar. This 150-year-old former produce store, tentmakers and motor workshop is now a showcase for their wines and other treasures of the region, providing a full wine bar and dining experience in central Ballarat.

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Where: Commercial Street, Buninyong 

Saltbush Kitchen’s premium range of salts, spices and bushfood spices offer a deep culinary connection to Australia. The Campfire Salt is a blend of smoked Victorian sea salt flakes, kunzea, native thyme, lemon myrtle, chilli and black pepper. Inspired by Mount Buninyong, the Bush Rub is a premium smoky spice rub with native kunzea, beetroot, Australian black pepper and smoked salt. Mountain Pepper is the leaf of the Mountain Pepper tree from Tasmania, which tastes like white pepper and lemon. And like lemon without the acidity, Lemon Myrtle is a versatile intense lemon flavour and aroma. Saltbush Kitchen's shopfront will reopen later in the year but you can buy online now.

Where: 415 Sturt St, Ballarat

Roses are the superstars of the flower world, but if you love them you’re no doubt aware that commercially sold roses often come from overseas with a large carbon footprint attached. But at Windflower, you can pick up roses grown at Soho Rose Farm in the nearby Hepburn Springs farming district. Wildflower is the farm’s concept store, which prioritises the best seasonal flowers as well as a large range of fantastic handmade homewares. Their space plays host to intimate dinners and community events, art shows and workshops too. Windflower happens to be a handy stockist for some of Ballarat’s tastiest treats such as Lucky & James handmade chocolate and Grounded Pleasures drinking cocoa.

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