With 65 000 people, Ballarat is currently Australias largest inland city, in Wathaurong country. Ballarat is located 86 kilometres, 53.8 miles, north of Geelong, and 111 kilometres, 69.4 miles, west northwest from Melbourne. Ballarat, like Bendigo, was created on the seat of the gold rush.
Blacksmith Thomas Hiscock, found the first gold of the Ballarat goldfields in 1851 and later that year there were over 2000 diggers combing the area.
By 1853 there were some 20 000 prospectors working the field. In that year alone, 9926 kg of gold was shipped out to Melbourne with another 77 700 kg transported from 1854 to 1857. The first gold battery in Australia was established at Ballarat in 1854.
The major single find of these years was the Welcome Nugget which, at almost 69 kg 99% of it pure gold, was the second largest solid gold nugget to be found in the world. A cairn, on the corner of Mair and Humffray Streets, marks the spot of the find.
In the late 1860s some 300 mining companies were working the fields and by the late 1870s the gold rush had died out. The last gold mine closed down at Ballarat in 1918.
Throughout the twentieth century Ballarat has prospered as a major administrative, manufacturing and commercial service centre
Lavish buildings, broad streets, ornate statuary and grand gardens are evidence of the two decades of gold in Ballarat.
Australias only civil battle within its colonial settlers occurred in Ballarat in 1854. Miners were angry about the high Government licence fees on the gold fields. The miners formed a union and built the Eureka Stockade where they burned their licences and raised the blue flag of the Southern Cross, which then became known as the Eureka Flag. In 1854, 282 soldiers and police made a surprise attack on the stockade, killing around 30 miners. After a public outcry over the brutality the miners were acquitted of treason and the licence system was abolished.
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery has developed a reputation as Australias largest and arguably best provincial art institution. More than 6000 works chart the course of Australian art from colonial to contemporary times. The gallerys star exhibit is the original Eureka Flag, which has since come to symbolize the basic democratic ideals that are so much a part of modern Australian society.
Tiny Montrose Cottage is the last surviving original miners cottage in Ballarat. Furnished with nineteenth century furniture it offers a window into the life of a middle-class family on the gold fields.
Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Ballarats Botanical Gardens found along the shore of Lake Wendouree are filled with statues, lush green lawns and exotic plants created simply for the aesthetics. One of the Gardens features is The Avenue of Prime Ministers, with every Australian prime minister to date, stretching off into the distance. In the Statuary Pavilion, female biblical figures in provocative poses surround a splendid centerpiece, Flight from Pompeii.
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