DESPITE racking up almost 11,500 Instagram followers, Ballarat's Chelsea Bourke shakes off the term "social media influencer".
"I’m just a girl with a phone in her hand trying to convince her two-year-old son to take a photo with her," Chelsea jokes.
"It’s probably taboo for the industry but I actually know very little about photography and I just use my iPhone (oh, the outrage!), but I enjoy being creative and I don’t think you have to be an expert to know what looks nice. I have, however, never been afraid of a bit of hard work and I am a master of Google and can learn so much without having to do any formal training."
The new Visit Ballarat brand ambassador's Instagram account is worlds apart from her day job working for an international exploration drilling company.
"When I was on maternity leave, I started my Instagram profile purely because I had a million photos of (my son) Charlie and loved setting up little photo shoots and vignettes in my spare time. My page evolved over the next 12 months to something about myself, family, fashion and beauty — mainly because my original subject matter wouldn’t sit still anymore!".
What do you love most about Ballarat?
"Ballarat is a beautiful historical city which is so close to Melbourne, Geelong and the coast. Lots of my friends and family live here and those friends that don’t always seem to come back eventually.
I literally live five minutes from my work, the supermarket, parks, Lake Wendouree, cafes and shops and we are spoilt for choice of schools and walking tracks. It feels like the perfect location to raise a family.
All my memories of growing up are here in Ballarat. It’s funny to look at how much it changed in that time but also how much it’s the same. The old buildings lining Sturt Street offer the city so much charm and character."
Where are your favourite Ballarat haunts to eat?
"You will generally find me chasing after Charlie in the cubby house at Hydrant Food Hall on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The Hydrant 2.0 is the best smashed avo you will find in Ballarat and the fact there is a playground inside is cafe goals to me! We also love to go to Yellow Espresso, Webster's Market and Cafe, Fika (OMG, Vegas & Rose donuts!) and the Arch View Cafe. Basically, on weekends, we cafe hop!
For dinner, we head to The Forge but if it’s a child-free night, I’m going to Moon and Mountain or The Pub with Two Names."
"I’m currently trying to trade my cheap fashion jewellery in for some good quality items that I’ll keep forever from Gems & Jewels. But I have sadly traded fashion for furniture this year as we are currently building a new home, so my favourite homewares shops are Such 'N' Such and Wen & Ware."
"Lake Wendouree is something I try not to take for granted. I feel so lucky that we have such a beautiful location for walks, picnics, chasing ducks, people watching and playing. The little boat sheds are an Instagrammer’s dream. The secret is that I’m desperate to own a yacht, join the yacht club and sail my boat on the lake. The trouble is, I get motion sickness!"
Ballarat’s best Insta-worthy locations?
"Sometimes all you need is a really good blank wall and the car park opposite Target (in Doveton St Sth) actually has some great walls. Fed Uni is such an interesting building and has many little secret spots to take photos. But my hottest tip is, if you’re looking for a pink wall that rivals the Paul Smith building in Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, go to Middy’s Data & Electrical Wholesaler (101 Mair St East). Boom!"
Which Ballarat events are you most looking forward to in 2019?
"Plate Up Ballarat is something I have always seen advertised but never been a part of. Anything that includes my love of food, dressing up and socialising, I’m there! I've looked at the Plate Up line-up and literally want to go to every event! May is going to be an epic month for Ballarat. I also haven’t taken Charlie to Sovereign Hill yet and I know that will blow his mind!"