THE Western Bulldogs are returning to Ballarat on Saturday, May 11, to take on the Brisbane Lions at Mars Stadium. Here are our top recommendations for the ultimate footy weekend in Ballarat, including some unexpected gems.
If you arrive in the afternoon, grab a coffee and then check out some of Ballarat’s bespoke shops that are scattered around the town. We suggest Hattie and the Wolf, Studio gas Ballarat, Sweet Fern, Crafty Squirrel, Woolshed Clothing, Mary & Peg Home Essentials and Wen & Ware Living. You’ll discover beautiful homewares, bespoke jewellery, unique clothing or the perfect gift for someone special.
For a great food fix, try Ballarat’s newest food addition, Winner Winner. You’ll love their deluxe fried chicken and craft beers.
Feel like dessert or more craft beer? Head to Hop Temple for a fun atmosphere where you can choose from Victoria’s largest range of craft beers and ciders. There are over 200 options, including local beverages such as Dollar Bill Brewing and Red Duck Brewery. For dessert, we recommend the Baked S’mores - a skillet full of chocolate and marshmallow that’s baked to perfection with a side of biscuits.
Game day! Fuel up with a delicious breakfast at Webster’s Market & Café. Think big breakfasts, brioche French toast and impressive chia pudding. While you’re sipping on your coffee, sit back, relax and admire the beautiful tree-lined street and heritage houses. Before the game, you'll have time to walk around Lake Wendouree and, if you’re with the kiddos, make a stop at the Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground - they will love it! Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, have a go at stand-up paddle boarding. SUP Ballarat will sort you out.
If you're lucky enough to have scored tickets to the match, then you're in for a real treat. Watch as Ballarat's adopted team, the Bulldogs, take on the fiery Brisbane Lions. Enjoy!
If you’re feeling peckish after the game, head back into the city for a toastie. Ballarat’s cafés and restaurants will put their best toasties forward as part of Plate Up Ballarat. The inaugural Toast of Ballarat will be a melting pot of flavours and creative combinations including The Lemon Almond Chicken Toastie (Kittelty’s), Eggplant Parmigiana Toastie (Little Bird), Ultimate Crispy Fried Chicken Toastie (Winner Winner), Rhubarb Crumble Jaffle (The Local), plus many more marvellous creations!
While you’re in the heart of the city, be sure to check out Australia’s oldest and largest regional gallery, the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Immerse yourself amongst the stunning collection of Australian paintings, sculptures, ceramics and works of paper. Don’t forget the gift shop on your way out for art books, souvenirs, gifts and toys.
Come dinner time, we recommend you dine at The Pub with Two Names. Owned by renowned Australian artist David Bromley and his partner-in-crime Yuge, this pub with a difference serves up all the classics as well as some contemporary creations in one of the most eclectic and artistic spaces you've come across.
Then wander down the lamp-lit laneway on Camp Street to discover The Lost Ones Gallery and Basement Bar. Once inside, you’ll find a bar that oozes cool appeal with classic drinks. The bar is known for its wide range of wine, spirits and sensational cocktails that are always changing. Whisky lovers, The Lost Ones is a partner bar with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and they have access to rare and exclusive whisky. You will not be disappointed!
If you’re in town with your mum, spoil her with an early Mother’s Day gift to attend one of the Plate Up Ballarat events. If mum appreciates wine, she’ll love the Vino Veloce – local Heroes at Mitchell Harris. This event is ‘meet your maker’ speed dating themed, where you’ll spend 10 minutes in a small group with a local winemaker or brewer, tasting their beverages, which will be matched with a tasty morsel. Or you can treat mum to a five-course feast at the Are You Game? A Farmed And Foraged Feast at Talbot Provedore & Eatery. Tickets are selling fast, so book now to avoid disappointment!
Now that you’re full, today is perfect to explore the region.
Wander around the Ballarat Amazing Mill Market for old treasures such as furniture, paintings, vintage clothing, memorabilia, jewellery and many more gems.
Go for a short drive to continue exploring the region. We suggest driving half an hour out to the Pyrenees, which is a stunning wine region that’s renowned for shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and sparkling. cellar doors that you must visit include Taltarni Vineyard, Blue Pyrenees estate and Dalwhinnie Wines.
Or take a short 20-minute drive to Creswick. Wander along the historic main street to check out the beautiful shops and cafes. We recommend you pop into Le Peche Gourmand for some authentic French bread and pastry. Finish up with a walk around the picturesque St George’s Lake.
For a fun family day, have an adventure at the Ballarat Wildlife Park and see Sumatran tigers up close. The tigers were recently welcomed at the park's new state-of-the-art Tiger Sanctuary conservation display. While at the park, you can also feed kangaroos and admire koalas, meerkats, little penguins and other Australian native animals.
Finish your adventure by experiencing the yesteryear of Australia’s great 1850 gold rush at Sovereign Hill. Pan for gold, enjoy street theatre, make a candle. Insider tip – visit the lolly shop and stock up on traditionally-made boiled raspberry drops. Yum!