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Why winter makes for the perfect time to explore Ballarat

Words by Della Vreeland 
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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

 

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