Time travel back to Australia's great 1850s Gold Rush and to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. Crowned Australia's best "Major Tourist Attraction" four times, the open-air museum portrays Ballarat's first decade after the discovery of gold in 1851, when it was considered the wealthiest city in the world. Relive the sights, sounds and smells of this mining heyday and even pan for gold in an underground mine, make sweets, or take the horse-drawn carriage through the streets.
Before it was dammed during the gold rush, Lake Wendouree in Ballarat used to be a swamp. Now a popular spot for boating, kayaking and fishing, Lake Wendouree is well worth the six-kilometre-long gander. On the lake's western shore, there is also the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, which boasts a remarkable 16 hectares of seasonal flower displays, mature trees and marble statues.
Ballarat may no longer be the wealthiest city in the world, but it offers a fruitful range of restaurants and cafés that are well worth the salt. Head for a breakfast of chilli scrambled eggs at Yellow Espresso, try Nonna's traditional meatballs at Carboni's Italian Kitchen or toast to the fact you can drink and not drive with a tipple or two at Mitchell Harris Wines.
How to get there
Grab your Myki, hop on the V/Line train, and arrive in less than 90 minutes at the historic Ballarat Railway Station.