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25 ways to celebrate summer in and around Ballarat

Eat & Drink

With so much happening in Ballarat this summer, it’s the perfect time to invite your friends and fam to visit.

From live music, fun activities for the kids and major sporting events, to dining in the sunshine and feeding your creativity, there’s plenty happening in Ballarat and beyond this summer.

5 ways to have some fun in the sun

The impressive rooftop at Ellington’s Wine Bar. Image: Matt Dunne.

Hit the great outdoors and experience the city’s stellar line-up of summer events, see world class athletes in action or dine outside and soak up some rays.

  1. Head to the Ballarat Farmers’ Market at Lake Wendouree on the second and fourth Saturday of the month and grab fresh food and produce, contemporary arts and crafts, collectables, secondhand treasures and more.
  2. Grab your favourite people and settle in at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens this January for the return of free concert series Summer Sundays. Enjoy music from local and regional artists, food trucks, the Garden Bar plus the Ballarat Fireworks Spectacular on 14 January.
    7, 14, 21 & 28 January.
  3. The streets of Ballarat and Buninyong will become a battleground when some of the country’s best cyclists come to town for the 2024 Federation University Road National Championships.
    3-7 January.
  4. Grab some takeaway and head outside for a tasty picnic. Some of our favourite spots include Lake Wendouree and the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, MacKenzies Flat Picnic Area in the Lerderderg State Park and St Georges Lake in Creswick.
  5. Eat and drink alfresco style at one of Ballarat’s many sun-drenched outdoor dining options. There’s the impressive rooftop at Ellington’s Wine Bar, Saigon Allee’s hidden CBD oasis, North Star’s huge shaded deck, Johnny Alloo’s tree-lined laneway and Lola’s charming courtyard to name a few.

5 things to keep the kids smiling

Ballarat Wildlife Park. Image: Shannyn Higgins.

The school holidays are upon us and there’s an endless array of options to keep the little ones happy.

  1. Beat the heat with a frozen treat. Our top picks are one or two (or why not make it three!) flavours from Il Piccolo Gelato in the CBD or a tasty cone from the iconic Tramcar lce Cream at lake Wendouree.
  2. Get up close and personal with animals of all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s becoming a Junior Keeper for a day at the Ballarat Wildlife Park or being greeted by the crew of alpacas, lambs, sheep and cheeky goats at the Creswick Woollen Mills, there’s something for everyone.
  3. Set sail for adventure with Pirates Ahoy! at Kryal Castle. Encounter a motley crew of pirates, mermaids and hidden treasures around every corner as the castle transforms into a pirate haven.
    21 December – 28 January.
  4. Step back in time with a visit to Sovereign Hill. Pan for gold on the diggings, watch lollies being made the old-school way and try your luck at 18S0s-style bowling. Take advantage of warm summer nights and take the kids to see the spectacular sound and light show, AURA.
  5. For some of the city’s best outdoor playgrounds, head to the Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground, Victoria Park’s Inclusive Play Space and the Eureka Stockade Gardens Playground.

5 ways to taste Ballarat and beyond

Eastern Peake.

Ballarat and the surrounding regions are a tasty place. Grab your crew (and your appetite) and start exploring!

  1. Head to a distillery and sample spirits or take part in a gin making workshop. Choose from the recently-opened ltinerant Spirits and Grainery Lane, local favourites Kilderkin Distillery and Red Duck Distillery, and Pyrenees gem Mrs Baker’s Still House.
  2. Check out the new additions to Ballarat’s already cracking eat and drink scene. Try Boom Time Dumplings and Nolans at The Goods Shed precinct, taste authentic Malaysian and Indonesian flavours at Flying Chillies‘ new cafe in Coliseum Walk or head to Sip Champagne Bar for some art deco-inspired decadence. 
  3. Our hospitality folk are a creative bunch. Try one of their special events and dinners. Options include The Shared Table’s locals nights, Aunty Jack’s Beer and Bread sessions, Musical Bingo at Hop Temple, Margarita Monday at Roy Hammond or summer local wine tastings at RJM’s Wine Bar
  4. Spend a leisurely afternoon at one of the Ballarat region’s boutique wineries. Pull up a stool at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar, be surrounded by barrels at Michael Unwin Wines, explore a little further and soak up the stunning views at Eastern Peake or be immersed in the cellar doors of the Pyrenees – the iconic wine region right on Ballarat’s doorstep. 
  5. Think truffles are just a winter delicacy? Think again. Some of Australia’s best summer truffles are grown at Wattle Flat’s Black Cat Truffles by Liam Downes and they’re showcasing them every weekend in summer. Start with a truffle hunt then choose from a chef’s selection long lunch or a grazing late lunch. 

5 ways to feed your creativitiy

Art Gallery of Ballarat. Image: Mass Motion.

Be enriched by the creative energy that flows through the city. From galleries to garden workshops, live music to learning something new, there’s inspiration everywhere.

  1. Just a short drive from Ballarat you’ll discover the Ross Creek Gallery. Opened by local ceramicist Ruby Pilven, this contemporary bush gallery features works by Ruby, as well as exhibitions by local artists. 183 Post Office Road.
  2. Explore the ever-changing exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. From printmakers exploring their personal relationship to place, country and home, to slow motion video of birds and a showcase of jewellery from 11 Victorian First Peoples artists, you’ll be captivated by what you see. 
  3. Get hands-on with a workshop or masterclass. Choose something fun and social, like one of Pinot & Picasso’s paint and sip sessions, or dig a little deeper with a full or multi-day workshop at the Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades with themes like basketry, soft limestone sculpting and armour smithing. 
  4. Check out a show at Ballarat’s Civic Hall. For a laugh, there’s the award-winning comedy of Nurse Georgie Carrol (3 February) or former ABC Kids star turned viral comedy sensation Jimmy Rees (16 February). In a major coup for the city, award-winning country and western superstar Charley Crockett will bring his summer tour to Ballarat (9 February). 
  5. Discover the historic grounds of the National Trust-listed Mount Mitchell Estate during their A Day in the Garden experience. Start with a tour then get your hands dirty with activities like planting, pruning, propagating and hedging. Catering provided by the local Country Women’s Association. 18 February.

5 ways to get some retail therapy

The Known World Bookshop.

Whether it’s buying gifts for your favourite people or something for yourself, something new or vintage or something to read or eat, Ballarat’s retailers have you covered.

  1. Find something you’ll treasure at one of Ballarat’s unique shops and boutiques. Some top picks include The Crafty Squirrel, Wen & Ware Living, Gems & Jewels and the Art Gallery of Ballarat shop.
  2. Go retro and hunt for a vintage find at one of Ballarat’s favourite places to shop secondhand. Hit the Ballarat Vintage & Collectables Market where you’ll find more than 80 vintage stalls under one roof or opt for one of the city’s vintage stores like Rocket and Belle, Alexa’s Treasures, Antik and Antiques Goods & Chattels. 
  3. There’s no better way to relax than by immersing yourself in a good book. Collins Booksellers Ballarat on Lydiard has the largest range of books in town. Or continue the vintage theme at The Known World Bookshop or That Little Bookshop. 
  4. Taste the extensive range of native Australian ingredients, bush foods, condiments, chocolates and more at Saltbush Kitchen‘s new Urquhart Street space. The team has also recently partnered with Red Duck Distillery to create a bush vodka, check it out. 
  5. Ballarat is home to a passionate community of producers, growers and makers. Shop for their delicious wares at a range of outlets including Campana’s Deli, Wilson’s Fruit and Vegetables, Hattie and the Wolf, Wootten, Windflower and the Made of: Ballarat shop at the Ballarat Visitor Information Centre.

Start planning your summer in Ballarat adventures now!

Sweet treats at Summer Sundays. Image: Matt Dunne.
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21 Dec 2023

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Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.

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