An insider’s guide to Ballarat’s flourishing food and arts scene

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An insider’s guide to Ballarat’s flourishing food and arts scene

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The Gold Rush town is bursting with modern cultural delights while staying true to its heritage.

Commercial illustrator and Ballarat native Travis Price takes us on a walking tour of his town for this week’s Your Happy Space instalment, highlighting what Ballarat has to offer and how his art transforms spaces across the area.

As an illustrator, Price’s work includes a range of projects from designing t-shirt prints to commercial branding, though his passion shines through as he describes his large-scale murals. Price’s first mural lives opposite local watering hole Hop Temple and although the project was just a bit of fun, it opened him up to the idea of colouring the city with his work. His art is a part of the town and can be seen on Main Road, with an impressive mural design that weaves in the story of Ballarat’s rich history. The end result of the project was very “Ballarat-centric” with a retro feel, and the public adored it.

Price says being able to step outside of his home and onto the Ballarat streets and tracks is a constant source of inspiration. At the heart of Ballarat sits the tranquil man-made Lake Wendouree. Situated in the centre of the town, the lake is a popular spot among locals.

“I’m at my happiest when I’m out walking,” says Price as he strolls around Lake Wendouree, describing how more and more people are embracing the serenity of regional areas over city centres.

In addition to the lake, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is one of Price’s favourite spots and has evolved alongside the burgeoning creative interests of Ballarat’s population. Established in 1884, The Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest and largest gallery in regional Australia and its popularity has seen a number of galleries sprouting in the area to cater to the flourishing community of creatives.

Dating back even further than the gallery, Price’s go-to coffee spot Craig’s Royal Hotel has been a staple of the community since 1865, offering a slice of history with a contemporary feel. The building boasts ornate architecture and a grand dining room, perfect for catch-ups big or small.

The Pub With Two Names, owned by renowned artist David Bromley, is another spot you’re likely to find Price and one he highly recommends visiting. The contemporary restaurant and grill, set in an iconic bluestone building, makes for a great spot to grab a drink or sit down for a meal and soak in the essence of the historic town. Highlights on the restaurant menu include the crispy skin salmon fillet, the veggie burger and the charred calamari. If you’re up for dessert, a crowd favourite is the After 8 at The PWTN, a triple chocolate mousse dome with a rich raspberry centre, decorated with flowers and chilli chocolate sauce.

Ballarat is close enough for a day trip or a weekend getaway while just far enough from Melbourne to make you forget the city’s hustle and bustle. But don’t think you’re heading into the country; the town has certainly transformed since the Gold Rush, but it still pays homage to its roots as it moves forward with the times.

This article is presented in partnership with Visit Victoria.