Ballarat is arguably the most significant Victorian era gold rush boomtown in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from the state of New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered at Poverty Point on 18 August 1851, and news quickly spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could easily be extracted. Within months, migrants from across the world had rushed to the district in search of gold.
Unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, which can be evidenced to this day in the city's rich architecture. The Eureka Rebellion began in Ballarat, and the only armed rebellion in Australian history, the Battle of Eureka Stockade, took place on 3 December 1854. In response to the event the first male suffrage in Australia was instituted and as such Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia.
Other nationally significant heritage structures include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (established 1857), the longest running lyric theatre building (Her Majesty's Theatre, established 1875), the first municipal observatory, established 1886, and the earliest and longest war memorial avenue (the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919).
Proclaimed a city in 1871, its prosperity continued until late in the 19th century, after which its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong rapidly faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and the largest city in the Goldfields region of Victoria, as well a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well-preserved Victorian era heritage, with much of the city subject to heritage overlays. After a narrow popular vote the city merged with the town of Ballarat East in 1921, ending a long standing rivalry.
Many historic buildings exist in Ballarat, not the least of which are some fine hotels. Some of these have remained remarkably unchanged from Victorian times (albeit conserved and renovated for modern use (e.g. Craig's Royal Hotel built 1853), while others have undergone many transformations demolitions and rebuildings (e.g. George Hotel, first built 1851, then again in the 1880s and finally another grander building in 1902).
This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.
|Lydiard St, Ballarat today|
|Lydiard St, Ballarat 1930s|
|Craig's Royal Hotel, today|
|Craig's Royal Hotel, 1907|
|George Hotel, today - the surviving third iteration of 1902|
|George Hotel, in the 1960s - the surviving third iteration of 1902|
|George Hotel, late 1880s - the lost second iteration of 1880s|
|The Lake View Hotel, today|
|The Lake View Hotel, 1880s|
|Original Court House Hotel, ca. late 1850s|