Victoria – Ballarat – eat, stay, love

Discovering the delights of Ballarat

By Tricia Brown
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Craig's Royal Hotel Ballarat
Craig's Royal Hotel Ballarat
Miss Maund, Telopea speciosissima, Waratah, 1837-1842, Art Gallery of Ballarat


Victoria's third largest city and home to the Eureka flag, Ballarat has a rich and colourful history built on the gold-rush era, the legacy of which can still be seen today in the many magnificent buildings and tourist attractions.

Mostly the only gold to be found these days though is in the many upmarket restaurants or nearby wineries and with coffee and food as good as you will find in Melbourne, Ballarat is an ideal destination for a short break.


Share, sample and savour great food and wine at the Lydiard Wine Bar in a classy fit out that could see you in Paris, New York or London. Head chef Damien Jones comes from Nahm and Bibendum in London, Darley Street Thai in Sydney and Circa in Melbourne and his food is superb. Try the fried soft-shell crab and calamari with aioli and lemon (a signature dish) and roast peking duck with caramelised coconut eggnet for starters.

Prepare to be surprised and delighted when you have dinner at Craig's Royal Hotel Gallery Bistro. Head chef Philippe Desrettes from Normandy creates outstanding food using the very best local produce. Treat yourself to High Tea at Craig's on Sunday at 3pm.

If you're looking for the best coffee in town then head to L'espresso, a cafe also serving the best breakfasts and lunches. Almost everything is made inhouse and it is so popular with the locals that finding a seat can be difficult. Have the gnocchi if it's on the menu! There's also an extensive collection of jazz, blues and contemporary music CDs on sale.


Opened in 1853 and host to many famous people such as Lord Kitchener, Mark Twain and Dame Nellie Melba, Craig's Royal Hotel is the place to stay in Ballarat. This gracious Victorian icon has been beautifully restored and has charming heritage rooms and suites, many with antiques, four poster beds and marble bathrooms. With its central location, this is an excellent base to explore Ballarat.


The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Australia's oldest and largest regional gallery, currently has on display the most comprehensive exhibition of Australian botanical art ever seen in this country – Capturing Flora, 300 years of Australian botanical art. This remarkable exhibition is on until December 2nd and should not be missed.



  • Ballarat (VIC)
  • Goldfields (VIC)

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October 22nd, 2012
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