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Where is Ballarat?

Ballarat is a regional city in southern Victoria not far from the capital, Melbourne. It sits in the Goldfields, an area known for its heritage towns, diverse landscapes, delicious food and tourism.

The traditional custodians of the land in and around Ballarat are the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung peoples. Their connection to the land is ongoing. In the mid-19th century, when prospectors discovered gold nearby, Ballarat emerged as a gold mining boomtown. Those times have passed but Ballarat today is one of Australia’s fastest-growing inland cities and a vibrant hub for the arts and culture.

Where is Ballarat?

Ballarat is the third-largest city in Victoria, with a population of almost 110,000. It is situated approximately 120 kilometres northeast of Melbourne.

Getting to Ballarat

Ballarat is so close to Melbourne it’s accessible by public transport. This makes it ideal for an overnight stay or getaway. You can travel from Melbourne to Ballarat – by bus, train or car – in about 90 minutes. The train leaves from Southern Cross Station and stops in the centre of Ballarat. Taking a bus from Southern Cross Coach terminal is slightly cheaper, while travelling by car can cut up to 15 minutes from the trip.

If you’re keen to see more of Victoria by car, Ballarat is an hour and a half from Bendigo, another gold rush town, 40 minutes from the spa town of Daylesford, 70 minutes from Geelong and two hours from Warrnambool, on the Great Ocean Road.

The history of Ballarat

The discovery of gold near Ballarat in 1851 sparked Victoria’s gold rush. Ballarat became a thriving ‘boomtown’ and was declared a city in 1871. In 1854, local miners staged an uprising – the Eureka Stockade – against government forces. This event became known as the Eureka Rebellion. It led to Australian men receiving the right to vote and is widely considered the birth of Australian democracy.

Unlike many other boomtowns, Ballarat continued to prosper well into the 19th century because its goldfields produced gold for decades. But by the start of the 20th century, Ballarat’s gold mining had slowed considerably and it became less important as a mining town. However, Ballarat has remained popular as a tourist destination and cultural centre (and, as we mentioned before, is one of Australia’s fastest-growing inland cities!). 

Study options in Ballarat

Ballarat is a great place to study. Options for universities in Ballarat include Federation University Australia and Australian Catholic University (ACU). 

The ACU Ballarat Campus (Aquinas) is located in town, between Lake Wendouree and the commercial centre, with cafes, restaurants and gardens nearby. Nursing and education are among courses popular with local and international students. Plus, ACU is ranked first in Australia for graduate employment!

The Mt Helen Federation University campus is located 10 kilometres from the centre of Ballarat in peaceful bushland. It offers higher education, technical and further education (TAFE) and research opportunities, and an array of sport and leisure facilities. 

To find out more about education providers in Ballarat, check out our guide to universities in Victoria.

Why study in Ballarat?

Ballarat is close to Melbourne and other regional cities – including Adelaide, South Australia – but the cost of living much is lower. Rent in Ballarat is 27% lower than in Melbourne and 10% lower than Adelaide, with less competition for accommodation. Regional cities such as Ballarat are also more relaxed and laid-back than the capital cities.

If you’re interested in studying in Ballarat it’s a good idea to find out more about studying in regional Australia, and what studying in regional Victoria can mean for your visa

Whether you’re already living in – or planning to live in – Ballarat, or planning a visit, you may like to explore our list of day trips and fun things to do in Ballarat. Attractions include Sovereign Hill, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Kryal Castle, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Eureka Centre Ballarat and the Lake Wendouree precinct.