Ballarat used to be called Ballaarat which means 'resting place'. Gold initially brought people to the area, although soon after quartz reefs were the miners temptation.
Ballarat is also a festival haven, with the Begonia Festival held in March, the Eureka Jazz festival held in April, and the Royal South St Eisteddfod held in September/October.
You can easily get to Ballarat by train from Melbourne, as well as on the V/Line buses from the nearby towns. Greyhound pass through Ballarat on their journey between Melbourne and Adelaide.
You can find out about the gold in the area at the Gold Museum which has some great displays. You should also visit the Sovereign Hill Historical Park, which is a recreation of an old gold mining town.
Around the town are some spectacular buildings which are worth visiting, including the marvelous Victorian buildings along Lydiard Street. There is a beautiful lake in Ballarat called Lake Wendoure which was the rowing course during the 1956 Olympic Games. Nearby are the extremely attractive Botanical Gardens. You can also visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park and the interesting and fun Great Southern Woolshed.
There is a wide selection of accommodation to suit every need from camping and hostels to grand hotels and quaint bed and breakfast's. There is also a number of places where you can eat out, including several trendy cafes. Entertainment is also popular in Ballarat, with performances appearing at Her Majesty's Theatre, and various bands playing at some of the local pubs.