Located in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Ballarat is the state’s third-largest city. Known for its gold rush heritage, Ballarat also offers a bustling cultural scene, diverse work opportunities, a close-knit community and a heap of fun things to do.
We spoke to three international students who know all about living, working and studying in this growing Victorian city. If you’re thinking about studying in Australia then get ready to fall in love with Ballarat.
Enjoy a relaxing pace of life
Many international students are drawn to the slower pace of life that smaller regional cities like Ballarat can offer. This was the case for Shalinka Fernando, an international student from Sri Lanka, who believes that Ballarat’s smaller size is suited to the academic requirements of students like himself.
“Ballarat is comparatively a small town compared to other cities, and its quiet environment has helped me to concentrate on my studies,” Shalinka says.
Similarly, Quyen Truong, an international student from Vietnam, wanted to escape the “hustle and bustle of big cities.”
“Ballarat is a very tranquil and beautiful small city. The traffic here is not as busy. It is so easy to drive around town and you never get stuck in the traffic for hours. It definitely fits what I wanted,” says Quyen.
Get qualified at renowned education institutes
Home to two universities and one TAFE institution, Ballarat offers students a variety of high-quality tertiary education pathways. Ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide and the first in Australia for graduate employment, being able to study at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) is one of Ballarat’s many drawcards. For ACU nursing students, Quyen and Thien An Tran, the university’s high-quality healthcare courses were part of Ballarat’s appeal.
For Shalinka, living in Ballarat meant that he could study at Federation University. Knowing that the university’s engineering courses were highly renowned around Australia, Shalinka completed his civil engineering degree at Federation University and is now working as a graduate structural engineer in Ballarat.
Live close to nature
One of the best things about living in a more regional city is that you have some of Australia’s most beautiful natural landscapes and attractions on your doorstep. Ballarat is surrounded by breathtaking forests, lakes, mountains and bushland.
For Quyen, the outdoor lifestyle of Ballarat is one of the things she loves most about living in the city.
“The nature here is absolutely gorgeous, especially during autumn time. Places such as Lake Wendouree, the Botanical Gardens or Mount Buninyong are worth exploring. I absolutely enjoy a long walk around Lake Wendouree or enjoying a picnic with my friends in the Botanical Gardens.”
Likewise, Thien prefers to live in close proximity to nature.
He says, “I came to Ballarat because I enjoy the countryside more than urban areas. You can enjoy the wilderness while driving through the large areas of land just by heading out of the city.”
Diverse job opportunities
In Ballarat, you can find many career opportunities in a wide range of fields. These include the arts, health care, agriculture, manufacturing, IT and education. All three international students have found steady part-time and full-time work in Ballarat.
Nursing student, Thien, is currently working part-time as a personal care worker in a Ballarat nursing home, while fellow nursing student Quyen is working as a COVID-19 tester and has been accepted for a graduate position at St John of God Ballarat Hospital.
Quyen has not found it difficult to find work in the city.
“Ballarat is a growing city, the need for healthcare is also increasing. So this actually helps me to find a job much easier than I thought,” she shares.
For Shalinka, working as a graduate structural engineer in Ballarat has been the ideal entry into the industry.
“I am very privileged to be part of a great team and have had the opportunity to work on many different engineering projects,” he says.
Compared to the costs of living in big cities, it’s usually more affordable to live in a regional city like Ballarat. This is because smaller cities don’t experience the same high demand for accommodation that larger cities do. Whether you’re planning on living in a sharehouse, private rental, homestay or some of Ballarat’s university and student accommodation, with less competition for rentals, you’re more likely to find a place in Ballarat that’s right for you.
While moving to a new place is exciting, many students take some time to find the right community in their new location. Ballarat is known for having an exceptionally friendly and welcoming community, which has helped many international students settle into the town easier.
“Ballarat is a friendly, peaceful and exciting community where everyone is welcomed,” shares Thien. “It’s a place where people are friendly and like to get to know each other, which fosters a sense of community.”
“Ballarat people are very friendly. I am lucky enough to have met and become friends with many Ballaratian,” says Quyen. “They always welcome me and make me feel at home. I have also learnt a lot of Aussie slang from local people which is super duper fun.”