Most tourist attractions open at 10:00am, which usually means we have an hour or so to fill in each morning. This morning’s activities will not be spoken about except to say that an addict fell off the wagon and went on a binge. JB Hi-Fi may or may not have been involved...
Now, the obvious thing to do when spending a day in Ballarat is to go to Sovereign Hill. This we did not do for two reasons. One, we've been there, done that. And two, two days ago we were at Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill. Last time we visited Ballarat we didn't see much of it so we looked for other things to do.
As it's so cold today, we were looking for something to do indoors and the Art Gallery fit the bill perfectly. It was established in 1884 and is the oldest and largest gallery in regional Australia. We looked at works by local artists documenting the history of Ballarat, paintings by several members of the Lindsay family, and an assortment of paintings by local and international artists from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (Yes, there was contemporary art too but we just can't get into it.) Artists such as Tom Roberts, Russell Drysdale and Robert Buss are represented. The building itself is an attraction, it was built in the 1880's as an art gallery, making it one of the oldest purpose built galleries in Australia.
Next we went for a drive around Lake Wendouree, which is in the middle of town, and ended up at the botanic gardens. We donned coats and beanies, and went for a stroll. We saw the conservatory which was full of beautiful dahlias and the Avenue of Prime Ministers which is a path lined with bronze busts of every prime minister from Barton to Gillard. (A prime ministerial connection to Ballarat is that Menzies attended primary school here. We visited the old school building which now houses an Antique Centre.)
At the far end of the gardens we visited the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial which lists the name of every Australian taken captive during the Boer War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War, over 35,000 men and women.
We walked back along the lake front, which was teeming with waterbirds, mainly swans, coot, moorhens and swamphens, but we did also get great views of a curious Musk Duck who swam right up to us for a sticky beak.
Back in town we visited Heroes HQ, a comic book shop, and the Antique Centre.
Back on the road again tomorrow.