Ballarat is in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, a little over an hour's drive on the Western freeway from Melbourne and the airport. With a population of about 90 000 the City of Ballarat has excellent facilities for education, health and sport which service much of western Victoria. Manufacturing, commerce and tourism are strong employment sectors while the rich volcanic soils produce many fine foods.
Tourism is largely centered on Ballarat's heritage of 19th Century streetscapes and the Eureka Rebellion of 1854 which is considered the birthplace of democracy in Australia. The story is well told in Blood on the Southern Cross Sound and Light Show at Sovereign Hill which is a theme park of life on the goldfields in the 1850s. The online gateway for visitor information is Ballarat Tourism and Accommodation Directory.
Benefactors have enriched the cultural life of the City with many fine sculptures and donations to the Art Gallery Ballarat which is one of the oldest provincial galleries in Australia with a fine collection of early paintings and a display featuring the Eureka flag. The annual Royal South Street Society Eisteddfod held at Her Majesty's Theatre in the spring provides competiton for music and dance as well as other areas of the performing arts.
The most popular places to visit are Lake Wendouree and the adjacent Ballarat Botanical Gardens. The cool climate and distinct seasons give rise to attractive gardens and avenues of mature trees. Although an urban area, Ballarat has many opportunities to be close to nature with bicycle paths and walking trails throughout the City along the waterways and at the Ballarat Wildlife and Reptile Park. Ballarat is the national headquarters of Conservation Volunteers Australia and significant environmental projects such as LINCS have been underway for more than a decade in keeping with the first Ballarat Region Conservation Strategy (1991) and the rewrite Ballarat Region Conservation Strategy 1999-2004. The Ballarat Environment Network is the umbrella group for conservation and landcare groups in the Ballarat area.
Ballarat is a geographically compact area which has been wired for broadband internet access by Neighborhood Cable, now known as TransACT. The tenants of the Technology Park adjacent to the University of Ballarat helped establish a reputation for cutting edge development of Information and Communications Technology. Ballarat ICT is the peak body for the State government's Televillage Project which includes the establishment of Telecommunity Centres, a Ballarat Community Portal and pilot projects. A new online home for Ballarat organisations is being developed at www.ballarat.vic.au
Our family has lived and worked in Ballarat since 1972 but much of our family history dates back to the goldrush era in the district. Two of our children were born here and all 3 were educated at Mt Clear Primary School and Ballarat and Queens Anglican Grammar School. In July 1984 we moved from Mt Clear to be near Lake Wendouree and the Gardens.