$50 million Shepparton Art Museum finally unveiled

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

The time has finally arrived. The state-of-the-art Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is set to open this month following multiple delays due to the COVID pandemic.

Dubbed a landmark cultural destination, the $50 million awe-inspiring museum has been designed by internationally renowned architects Denton Corker Marshall. The design was unanimously selected from an architectural competition in 2017 and endorsed by the Greater Shepparton City Council.

According to Denton Corker Marshall founding director John Denton, SAM represents an important cultural contribution to a regional city.

‘Sitting between the lake and the main road into town from Melbourne, it presents a strikingly bold signal – a new contemporary building added to the fabric of the city,’ he says.

The structure is designed to act as a ‘live’ building, the space is characterised by simplicity and clarity, with every surface presenting an opportunity for display, event or installation.

Conceived as a land sculpture immersed into the surrounding landscape, the museum is the tallest building in Shepparton and acts as a beacon in the town’s low, flat topography.

The museum houses over 4,000 artworks, four main gallery spaces including a dedicated Kids Space, Visitors’ Information Centre, Kaiela Arts Aboriginal community arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre and Art Hill, as well as a cafe and 150-person event space and terrace.

‘The building is about hope and aspiration, with a range of welcoming spaces and places designed to invite all members of the public to meet, enjoy, and call their own through arts and culture,’ SAM artistic director and CEO Rebecca Coates says.

‘There’s a play of theatre, performance and comfortable reflection with natural light and views to the landscape connecting people to context and landscape.’

SAM only recently transitioned from working under the council to operating as a not-for-profit independent model.

It was also during this time that the museum started moving into the newly-constructed building. Nestled upon the banks of Victoria Park Lake, the museum was to open earlier this year had it not been for the extended lockdowns.

‘It’s been very challenging this year,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s meant we’ve had to reschedule, rethink, and look at timelines. But all-in-all, given what’s happening in other sectors, it could be so much worse.’

One of Australia’s leading art museums, SAM is renowned for its significant connection to ceramics as well as indigenous artists and works. Located in a regional town with a rich multicultural landscape, the museum serves to further the town’s flourishing community through welcoming, inclusive and engaging spaces for all.

The new museum’s inaugural suite of exhibitions will feature works by emerging and established Australian artists, spanning sculpture, painting, video, photography, ceramics and installation. It is also set to showcase Australia’s most significant collection of south-east Australian Aboriginal art, presented alongside a dynamic lineup of world premiere Australian exclusives and commissions celebrating artists from across Australia and around the world.

‘SAM holds a special place in the hearts of Australians, presenting work by some of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, locating their work within a global context,’ Rebecca says.

‘These first exhibitions speak to our unique people and place and acknowledge and celebrate our local Yorta Yorta people and shared culture.

‘This is the most significant and exciting moment in SAM’s history as an organisation. I look forward to sharing this new chapter that will build on its past legacy and create a new vision for the future.’


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Shepparton Art Museum opening
WHEN: Saturday, November 20
FIND OUT MORE: sheppartonartmuseum.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Collection of significant Aboriginal objects digitised at Hamilton Gallery

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

The largest and oldest collection of Australian Aboriginal objects on Gunditjmara Country are set to become digitised as part of a significant cultural project at Hamilton Gallery.

The project is being led by Gunditjmara woman Denise Lovett, who boasts a strong background in Aboriginal heritage management and protection.

Having worked with the Gallery team for the past three months as their Aboriginal Digitisation Support Officer, Denise has analysed almost 100 works within the gallery collection, with a specific focus on Gunditjmara objects.

‘There’s a small collection at the Dunkeld Museum, the Glenelg Shire Council office in Casterton, and other small collections in Warrnambool and Portland,’ Denise said. ‘But to have a collection of Aboriginal objects of this size and age is quite rare.’

The project has involved digitising hand-crafted instruments by Gunditjmara peoples onto collection management software, capturing images and details of each item, managing records, and ensuring key information surrounding background and cultural significance is documented.

The objects in the collection include wood-carved boomerangs, shields and digging sticks, as well as intricately woven baskets.

Having benefited from the mentorship of local Gunditjmara-Boandik Elder Uncle Johnny Lovett, Denise said it was a privilege to work with the largest, oldest collection of Aboriginal crafted objects on Gunditjmara Country.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity as a Gunditjmara woman to handle these objects, especially the Western District collection, which I found particularly interesting.

The project is taking place as part of the state’s Regional Gallery Digitisation Project, with the process laying strong foundations for future partnerships between the Gallery and Gunditjmara First Nations.


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Digitisation of Gunditjmara Country Aboriginal objects
WHERE: Hamilton Gallery, 107 Brown Street, Hamilton
FIND OUT MORE: hamiltongallery.org

We wish to acknowledge the Gunditjmara people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Goulburn River & Ranges Road Trip

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images supplied

Central Victoria was sometimes seen as a drive-through rather than a drive-to area; a place where you’d stop to use the restroom facilities, grab a coffee or fuel up the car.  Our Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip proves otherwise.

Goulburn Rover Things to DoIt is a place that is filled with a rich history, both recent and more ancient. A place of sweeping landscapes, enchanting waterways and stunning scenic drives, all within an easy drive out of Melbourne.

Head north-east from Melbourne firstly to Marysville and Eildon then on to Yea.  From Yea it’s over to Trawool and Tallarook before heading north to Seymour, Avenel then Nagambie and finally arriving at Euroa.

Marysville
#oneandahalfhoursout

EuroaOn the edge of the Yarra Valley is the (in)famous Black Spur Drive. Marvel as the road twists and turns beneath towering eucalypts and movie-worthy mist. Soon enough you arrive in Marysville, a pretty little town with a big heart. It is also a convenient jumping-off point to visit Lake Mountain, with plenty for adventure seekers no matter the time of year.

If you want to stretch the legs a little further, Steavenson Falls (Victoria’s tallest with a drop of 84m) is just the ticket. Be well-rewarded for an easy 250m walk from the carpark with sensational views of one of the region’s most iconic waterfalls.

Eildon
#twohoursout

Lake EildonNext up is the town of Eildon and one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, with a whopping 500km coastline. Lake Eildon was created in the 1950s with the damming of the Goulburn River for supply of drinking water, hydro-electricity generation and irrigation.

Naturally this makes it a popular spot for all the water recreational activities you can think of: boating, fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and house boat hire. It’s also an ideal place to just kick back and watch the changing reflections of the clouds and hills on the water.

Yea
#oneandahalfhoursout

Yea WetlandsOur next stop is Yea – yay! A perennially popular stopping-off point to refuel both the car and the driver, Yea easily recalls the grandeur of the area’s gold mining past with historic buildings and graceful wide streets. It is also where the Goulburn River meets the Yea River and the Yea Wetlands, a treasure trove of flora and fauna.

Yea’s historic Gothic-styled railway station is beautifully preserved with its red brick façade. It’s a great place to pick up The Great Victorian Rail Trail or allow the kids to let off some steam at the playground.

Trawool
#oneandahalfhoursout

TrawA short drive and it’s on to the district of Trawool, for there is no township as such. It is here that the Goulburn Valley Hwy plays cat and mouse with the Goulburn River and its lagoons. Holiday makers have been visiting Trawool Valley from the early 1900s to take in the area’s scenic charms and it’s easy to see why.  A visit to the iconic Trawool Estate will not disappoint.

Tallarook
#onehourout

Tallarook Farmers’ MarketNext stop is Tallarook and the start of the 134 km Great Victorian Rail Trail connecting Tallarook to Mansfield. Whether you choose to explore the trail by foot, by bike or by horse it certainly offers a unique way to take in some fresh air. Like so many townships along this great drive, a weekend trip to the farmers’ market is a great way to sample local produce and stock up at the same time. Since 2009, locals and visitors have been filling up their baskets and supporting producers and makers alike at Tallarook Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of the month.

Seymour
#oneandahalfhoursout

Food SeymourA short drive from Tallarook is Seymour, located on the banks of the beautiful Goulburn River. Very much the platonic ideal of a country town with its wide, welcoming streets and riverside parks, Seymour has always been a major stop on the Melbourne-Sydney route. The area has also had strong military connections since the establishment of a nearby training camp prior to WW1 and then later Puckapunyal Army Base.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during blueberry season (summer) a stop-off at Blue Tongue Berries needs to be top of the list. The Brewer’s Table is your best bet for quality local food, craft beer and cider. While your wine needs are all taken care of with a visit to Wines By Sam, Sam Plunkett’s cellar door in the expertly refitted old Seymour dye works building.

Avenel
#oneandahalfhoursout

AvenelThe historic township of Avenel was established in 1849 as a stop-over point between Melbourne and Albury. It is also known as the place where Ned Kelly’s family lived in the 1806s. Ned is now known as a bushranger and outlaw, but he was once hailed a hero after rescuing a young boy from drowning in a local creek. Fowles Wines is the perfect lunch spot; after all who can resist a wine with the name Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch?

Nagambie
#oneandahalfhoursout

Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal ArtNagambie calls and it’s our next stop. It is little wonder wineries are a great drawcard of Nagambie and surrounds. The cool climate (influenced by the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) combined with the area’s red sandy loam soil adds up to a distinctive wine region.

Look no further than the historic Tahbilk Winery and Mitchelton wineries for evidence. Situated within the Mitchelton estate in a disused underground wine cellars you’ll find the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, regional Victoria’s largest indigenous art gallery, celebrating the art of Australia’s First People, including local Taungurung people.

Euroa
#twohoursout

EuroaOur last stop is Euroa at the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges. You’re definitely in Kelly country now – Ned Kelly and his gang bank robbed a local bank here in 1878. These days the town is a good base to explore the nearby Strathbogies, take a scenic drive to the Gooram waterfalls or perhaps take a quick dip in one of the popular swimming holes if weather allows.

Whether you are seeking a nature-lovers paradise, a taste of the region’s best restaurants and wineries or a relaxing getaway full of country hospitality, a Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip has it all. Murrindindi, Mitchell and Strathbogie regions are an easy drive out of Melbourne with no end of things to experience whatever the season.

We suggest you plan to stay a while.


DOWNLOAD GOULBURN RIVER & RANGES ROADTRIP MAP

Goulburn River Road TripDiscover the huge variety of attractions across the region with this printable map. Download here.

Or use our helpful itinerary to plan your trip around the region.

 

 

 

 


 

We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

 

Shepparton Art Museum director talks lockdown, creativity, and maintaining connection with community

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

For over six years, Rebecca Coates has been harnessing her love for art and curatorship and channelling it for the benefit of the Shepparton community and beyond.

As director and CEO of the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), Rebecca says her goal has always been for SAM’s exhibitions and programs to not only be locally relevant but to engage with global contemporary ideas. But once the health pandemic hit in 2020, Rebecca and her team were forced to reconsider how these aims would continue to be recognised and implemented.

‘It was all about how we would continue to work with our community and connect with them – because this was all new to everyone,’ she says. ‘We took our programs digital, and early on they were all so hilariously amateur, but we’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t work, so that has been invaluable.

‘We documented and photographed our collection so we could make that available to the public thanks to some Work for Victoria funding, and were able to support local people and keep them employed.’

We continued to remember and, if we could, celebrate what we loved about the arts and cultural space.

As if the advent of COVID wasn’t enough of a challenge for the SAM team, the museum was also transitioning from working under council to operating as a not-for-profit independent model.

At the same time, the museum was in the midst of moving into its newly-constructed contemporary building nestled upon the banks of Victoria Park Lake. While the new building was set to open early this year, the extended lockdowns really threw a few spanners in the works.

‘It’s been very challenging this year,’ Rebecca says. ‘We were meant to open in March, but that was delayed because of COVID so we had to again rethink how we engage and what we do.’

‘We’ve increased our online programming and digital collection online, and have continued to work where we can installing programs so we can open as soon as we can. (But) we have freight coming from interstate so there are considerable parts of our install that have been affected. We like to think we are totally an essential service, but we’re not.’

The state government recently announced that regional Victoria would ease out of lockdown restrictions – with the exception of Shepparton which is still exhibiting relatively high case numbers. Rebecca says as soon as restrictions do lift, they will be able to focus on restarting their installations safely and appropriately.

‘It’s much better to be sensible about it,’ Rebecca explains. ‘It’s meant we’ve had to reschedule, rethink, and look at timelines. But all-in-all, given what’s happening in other sectors, it could be so much worse.’

One of Australia’s leading art museums, SAM is renowned for its significant connection to ceramics as well as with indigenous artists and works. Located in a regional town with a rich multicultural landscape, Rebecca says the museum serves to further the town’s flourishing community.

‘(The museum) needs to be something you can bring your own experience to, part of a larger whole. And that’s what I call the wider contemporary art world,’ she says. ‘I think that will continue and it reinforces Shepparton’s rich multicultural community.’

While it’s hard to know when exactly Shepparton will open up, Rebecca says she’s extremely proud of how her colleagues have been managing the crisis.

The museum recently launched its Sketch program, a five-week series that celebrates artists in the region, while providing art-lovers and dabblers with the chance to participate in workshops aimed at inspiring creativity in lockdown.

‘We want to showcase artists and creators doing good things, engage with a community who values art and culture and wants to have fun, and do that in a way that is part of a larger whole,’ Rebecca says.

‘We just need to be really clear about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we’re doing it. We have to be a bit more flexible, but we will find a way to do it with our friends and colleagues in the arts and culture space.’


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Shepparton Art Museum
FIND OUT MORE: sheppartonartmuseum.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

2021 Archibald Prize to takeover Gippsland Art Gallery

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Join in the centenary celebrations of Australia’s favourite art award with a visit to Gippsland this October/November. Gippsland Art Gallery is rightfully excited and proud to be chosen as the sole Victorian venue to host the 2021 Archibald Prize on its regional tour.

The Art Gallery of NSW whittled down some 938 entries to just 52 for this year’s prize. Visitors can play spot the familiar face amongst subjects ranging from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes and artists.

For his winning portrait, Peter Wegner chose fellow artist Guy Warren (also celebrating his 100th birthday) as his subject. Incidentally, Warren won the prestigious award himself in 1985.

Painting styles vary as widely as the subjects and no doubt much discussion will be had over the various merits of them all. One highly commended piece from Sydney artist Jude Rae – Inside Out – deals with themes many will be able to relate to from the past year.

As Rae herself states, ‘It seemed to me that the self-portrait is the most compelling expression of this inwardness, but also a reminder that, while we might feel singular, we are not separate. We think of ourselves alone at our peril.’

Overlooking waterways and parklands in the Port of Sale precinct, the gallery expects to welcome over 50,000 visitors during the exhibition’s 45 days and with free entry there’s no excuse not to bring the kids along for a bit of culture.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Archibald Prize – Gippsland Art Gallery
WHERE: 70 Foster St, Sale
WHEN: Friday 8th October – Sunday 21st November 2021 – open 7 days
MORE INFO:  2021 Archibald Prize


Image Credits:

Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Peter Wegner
Portrait of Guy Warren at 100
oil on canvas, 120.5 x 151.5 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Jenni Carter
Sitter: Guy Warren
Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Natasha Bieniek
Rachel Griffiths
oil on wood, 13.5 x 18.5 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Sitter: Rachel Griffiths
Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Kirthana Selvaraj
The green suit, a self-portrait
oil on canvas, 150.2 x 90.1 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Sitter: Kirthana Selvaraj

Art that unites, inspires and enhances understanding

Word by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Achieving understanding and respect between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Uniting and inspiring.

This is what Cassie Leatham sets out to do through her work.

“My art has many stories,” the proud Taungurung woman says.

“I try to inspire the youth and try to unite the community and bring non-indigenous people on the journey as well as breaking down barriers and bringing cultural education.”

“My art for me is not art. It’s my life journey and my ancestors’ ways.”

Growing up, Cassie was always connected to nature and its natural resources. The desire to create was instilled within her.

“When I was 15 I knew I wanted to be an artist but had other interests as well,” she recalls.

“I entered my first art competition and won and then I donated the prize money to a charity and decided I would continue creating and exhibiting my works.”

Over the last three decades, Cassie’s work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria, Koorie Heritage Trust Collection, Melbourne Magistrates Court of Victoria and is exhibited nationally and internationally.

Working across a range of mediums, she likens her process to the methods of her ancestors before her.

“We create with all varieties of materials so that’s why I am who I am today. I don’t like to focus on one as why should I?” she exclaims.

It’s all about connection to the past and keeping traditional techniques alive for my people and the future generations.

As well as being an artist and master weaver, much of Cassie’s work is based around cultural education, healing, storytelling, dance and song.

She regularly hosts workshops in bush tukka, traditional weaving, bush craft, murals, ochre painting, bark paintings and a whole lot more.

Over the next year, Cassie says she hopes to continue educating, creating and sharing her wonders with whoever wants to learn.

“I don’t ever set goals for myself, as I feel spirit will guide me to do what I am meant to do,” she says.

“My journey is mine alone. I share my personal journey and my ways of collecting and making in my educational workshops and education. To pass on skills to future generations is important to me. It’s what I focus on the most.

“Healing for me is to pick up rubbish along sides of the roads and to clear sites of unwanted disposed items and care for my country and environment. It’s also ceremony and song and dance as well in my own personal space. Storytelling is empowering to share the stories of the old people.”

This year’s National Reconciliation Week (NRW) theme is ‘More Than a Word: Reconciliation Takes Action’.

The theme urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action, remembering the importance of privileging and amplifying First Nations’ voices.

For Cassie, NRW will include the facilitation of education workshops in order for young people to further understand her community’s cultural practices.

“There is recognised aboriginal art and more and more opportunities are arising for aboriginal artists to share and create and exhibit works,” she says.

She hopes Australians everywhere will take this week to reflect, celebrate each other’s cultures, and be proud of who they are.

“I have seen so much unfold in my time from when I’ve been an emerging artist to now being an established artist and hoping aboriginal art keeps going strong.”

For 35 years, Cassie has developed her career and been presented with multiple career opportunities.

But her art has always been integral to who she is.

“I think, honestly, I was born to carry and continue my ancestors’ work on my journey,” she says.

“I feel that support is needed in becoming more aware of the talent of aboriginal artists and the diversity of artists that are not only from up north but here in Victoria.

“It would be giving our people here more encouragement and strength to share their art.”

To find out more about Cassie’s work, visit wildblakarts.com.au


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: National Reconciliation Week
WHEN: May 27 to June 3
FIND OUT MORE: reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week

A rare Linda McCartney retrospective is coming to Ballarat

Images Supplied

Attention all photography lovers, Beatles tragics, and 60s rock die-hards: the incredible works of photographer Linda McCartney are coming to the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2021.

In an Australian first, the Ballarat Biennale will present Linda McCartney: Retrospective, a collection of extraordinary photographs by the famed photographer, curated by none other than by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney. 

The collection will showcase over 200 images spanning across three iconic decades, giving an intimate look at McCartney’s career and life. There will be images of the McCartney family, the 1960s music scene and series of never before seen prints from McCartney’s trips to Australia between 1975 and 1993.

Linda McCartney, who sadly passed away in 1998, was renowned for her spontaneous and experimental approach to photography. She captured rock stars before they conquered the world – most notably Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and, of course, The Beatles. Plus, she was the first woman to photograph for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with her portrait of Eric Clapton in 1968.

In the photographs, visitors will see the world reflected and shaped by McCartney’s unique perspective and experience as musician, wife and mother alongside the biggest band in the world. From both the domestic setting to side-stage, every picture is equal parts moving and subtle.

The retrospective has taken three years to secure, making it a huge success for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and for lovers of pop culture. Set the date, one of the biggest photographic arts festivals in the country is only a few months away. 

Fingers crossed Paul McCartney makes an appearance!


THE DETAILS:
WHAT: Linda McCartney: Retrospective at Ballarat International Foto Biennale
WHERE: 12 Lydiard St North, Ballarat 3350
WHEN: August 28 – October 24 2021
MORE INFO: Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Say hello to ‘Cultural Exchange’, Bendigo’s newest art and culture hub

When you think of artistic and cultural hubs, Bendigo may not initially spring to mind. But that’s all changing thanks to a new dedicated space for artists to develop, create and share their work – right in the centre of town.

Meet ‘Cultural Exchange’, Bendigo’s latest artistic zone for Indigenous and multicultural artists. Housed in the recently renovated and restored Beehive Building, the space is the first of its kind in the region. The modus operandi? An inclusive, vibrant home for culturally diverse artists to share both art and culture with the wider community.

Inside the historic building there are art studios, performance and rehearsal space, art workshops and classes – all open now and accessible to the public. And if you’re in the mood for a window shop (or a real shop), there is a gallery space and a gift store where you can purchase handmade treasures by local artists.

Unlike many gallery spaces, the Cultural Exchange will showcase a dynamic display of the latest works by the resident artists, with new pieces going on the walls as soon as they’re completed. That’s great news for locals and day trippers alike who’ll get the chance to spy new work every time they stop by.

The launch a momentous occasion for the community of Bendigo who have been longing for a cultural centre point for years now. And the crew at Multicultural Arts Victoria Bendigo are the ones to thank. Alongside the 20-30 artists who now practice at the space, they’ve made one of regional Vic’s freshest arts and culture hubs possible. We think that’s a little bit great.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: Cultural Exchange
WHERE: Beehive Building, 18-26 Pall Mall, Bendigo
WHEN: Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
MORE INFO: Multicultural Arts Victoria

BLINK lights up the night at Werribee Park

Images Supplied

BLINK, a new and unique exhibition, is set to light up the night at Werribee Park this December.

The exhibition will showcase portraits, taken as part of local photographer David Mullins’ Faces of Wyndham project, shown as giant light projections throughout that gardens. The faces will come to life as dramatic, illuminated portraits – each projected into the branches of the spectacular trees surrounding the mansion.

Over the nights of December 10-20, guests are invited to explore the gardens after dark to take in the illuminated works and soundscape.

While the projections will be shown from 9pm until midnight each night, the gardens will be open all evening, so you can arrive early and enjoy the surrounds before the trees light up.

Make it a full night out with either a sit-down dinner booking or a pre-booked picnic hamper from The Refectory Parlour or Joseph’s Restaurant at Lancemore Mansion Hotel – both found within the park grounds. A garden bar will also be open at The Refectory Parlour with a selection of alcoholic beverages, coffee, snacks and sweet treats to enjoy. On the weekends, dinner will also be available at Shadowfax Wines, just a short stroll from the park.

You’re also welcome to bring your own picnic and find a spot on the lawns if you’d prefer, and for those looking for early evening activities nearby, Werribee Open Range Zoo will be operating late sessions from 4pm-8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sundays during December.

The exhibition is only on for 11 nights, so be sure to reserve your free ticket – you wouldn’t want to blink and miss it.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Blink
WHERE: Werribee Park, K Road, Werribee South
WHEN: 10 – 20 December 2020
MORE INFO: Blink


	

Why winter makes for the perfect time to explore Ballarat

Words by Della Vreeland 
Images supplied
#sponsored

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Well, it is for me anyway! As a Ballarat local, I find the winter season to be the perfect time to explore all that our city has to offer, especially after months of being stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

People often shudder at the thought of stepping outdoors during the wintertime. But over the last few years, Ballarat has really learned to embrace the chilly season and bring everyone else along for the ride. Basically, it’s as easy as rugging up in your puffer jackets, beanies and boots, and soaking the cold up in all its glory. 

Here are 5 reasons that I love winter in Ballarat.

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Following its closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is now ready to swing open its heritage doors just in time for the winter holiday season. The oldest and largest regional art gallery in Australia, this institution will warm the cockles of your heart immediately upon entry as you’re greeted by the unique staircase and collage of artworks. With two new exhibitions set to be showcased through the winter season, the gallery is a must-visit during your stay.

Sovereign Hill

You can’t head to Ballarat without venturing to Sovereign Hill. Even though the acclaimed Winter Wonderlights will not be making an appearance this year (for obvious reasons), it doesn’t mean the outdoor museum isn’t worth visiting. You’ll still be able to explore all the wonders of this award-winning attraction as you find yourself transported to the 19th century goldfields. Pan for gold, enjoy a warming drink and pastry at one of the bakeries, admire the beautiful buildings with their Victorian facades, warm up by the fire pits, and try your hand at candle-making. Performances in the Victorian Theatre will also be running (with social distancing in place). As long as you’re rugged up and sporting comfy shoes, you’ll be ready to while the day away in the days of yore.

Warming eats

One of my most favourite pastimes is eating, so I consider myself quite lucky to live in the culinary capital of western Victoria. Ballarat’s cafes and restaurants place a huge emphasis on sourcing local, so you can look forward to specially-curated winter menus showcasing only the best and finest in seasonal fare. My top eateries would have to be Moon and Mountain and Mr Jones, while The Forge, Mitchell Harris and Meigas are amongst some other local favourites.

Village exploration

Another favourite pastime for our family is loading up the car and taking a day trip to one of the city’s neighbouring villages. Ballarat acts as the perfect home base to explore the region’s many hamlets, each boasting its own rich history as well as more mighty fare! Buninyong, Creswick, Clunes, Talbot and Beaufort and just some of the places worth discovering during your Ballarat stay.

The streetscapes

There’s something mystical about the Ballarat streetscapes during the wintertime. The boulevards glisten in the rain’s afterglow, there is a magical and almost eerie contrast between the grey skies and majestic heritage buildings steeped in stories of the past, and the bare trees seem to release a desire within us to rug up and truly uncover the best of the season. Which is just as well, since there really is so much to be discovered.

For more ideas of things to see and do in Ballarat during winter, head to visitballarat.com.au