Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year in Ballarat and Clunes.

"Let's get out of town for New Years" Sue said - I agreed whole heartily. These days, we really don't enjoy NYE parties. Besides, It's so hard to stay up till midnight these days, isn't it?
After a very pleasant drive on the back roads we made it to Ballarat for lunch and a glass of wine at one of the historic hotels.

Ballarat was founded on the Gold Rush of 1851 as was Clunes and many of the surrounding historic gold mining towns in the district. Bendigo was another that we visited and blogged on a few months back is another.
Prior to the gold rush of 1851 Ballarat was a cattle run of 10,000 acres settled by squatters. The Brothers Yuille reached the area in 1837. Their only neighbours were the indiginous population from whom Ballarat gained its name.

Sue I are thinking of selling up in the next few years - this building sparked an interest but we thought we would need to buy some togas to go with it - Sue, peel me another grape please.

Another place for sale was this first floor 3 bedroom apartment which comes with this huge balcony - can you imagine dining alfresco under a big shady umbrella and watching the world go by. It overlooks the main street of Ballarat.
Price: AUS$420,000 
The area of Ballarat seems to suffer from the extremes of heat and cold. I've been here to race on the bike in mid-winter and suffered badly and on this weekend trip we are experiencing mid 30s heat. Thank God for air conditioning.
It was our aim to just get out of Melbourne for New Year's Eve and enjoy each other's company and explore some of our historic gold mining areas of Victoria.

Lake Wendouree is one of the many features of Ballarat.
Only recently the rains have filled the lake once again.

Back in 56' Lake Wendouree was the venue for the Olympic Kayak events.

On our arrival we went looking for the Tourism Office, isn't that what you do as a tourist? Across the road was the Ballarat Art Gallery - they have some amazing pieces including some fine examples of Australian Impressionist - Streeton, McCubbin amongst the list. John Brack, another favourite of mine that I have posted on before is also on the walls.

My photo is a little fuzzy but a flash was not allowed - this is the original Eureka Rebellion flag.
More here:

To the right - A John Brack painting - to the left in the background a Hemp man.

And a close up of the Hemp Man, but don't get too close - he smells.

Norman Lindsay was an exponent of erotica and I believe he lived around the district at one time - Creswick I believe which we travelled through on the weekend. Many of his paintings were thought to be pornographic at the time.

This photo is for Dianne in South Australia - I know Charles Conder is one of her favorites -
Follow her blog on -
 Unknown to us, some friends were also in Ballarat for a birthday celebration so we caught up with them for drinks prior to popping off to dinner at a local restaurant known as Red Peppa.

Sue can tell you more on that subject;
Dinner was certainly not cheap, but was a well cooked delight of fresh, seasonal and simply prepared food.
Leon and I started with a shared tapas plate that had grilled saganaki cheese with a rhubarb (I think) preserve of some kind, mini duck pancakes, tomato bruscetta and tempura prawns. All light and perfect for a hot night.
Leon had squid ink fettucini with seafood and I had rack of lamb. He enjoyed his pasta. I really enjoyed my lamb. Four small chops cooked softly pink with a heavily reduced jus, served with yummy crisp veges and a twice cooked cheese and green bean souffle. Very, very good. All locally sourced produce cooked with care. We shared a local Ballarat red to go with it.
We weren't thinking of dessert until Leon saw a big cloud of soft meringue drift by on its way to someone else. It came with balsamic poached strawberries and he loved it. I had a piece of lemon tart which was just OK, but the lamb made up for it.
Definitely worth a visit if in Ballarat.

Breakfast in Ballarat was full of surprises - on walking into the cafe, I discovered that it was full of a huge selection of non-top 40 CDs. Initially we sat near the espresso machine which was really noisy so we moved and started chatting with a couple on the next table who were locals. That is until Sue and the lady on the next table went to the same primary school - Small world, hey!
Anyway it made for a most pleasant moment. You can meet some really interesting people with just a simple hello.

We decided on the spur of the moment to take a trip out to another gold mining town from the past - Clunes is 36 kms to the north west of Ballarat and a town I became fascinated with when I first discovered it in the early 70s. It was listed in a book by the title of Ghost Towns of Australia from memory.
I can't believe its hardly changed in those 40 plus years. It has a population of 1000 these days but during those halcyon days of the gold rush, it had 6000 by the 1880s.

Due to its authenticity, it has been used in a few movies including the Heath Ledger version of Ned Kelly and also scenes from Mad Max.

I could have taken a heap more photos of Clunes - well, I did really, so I apologise for posting this many.
We hope and wish you a very wonderful 2012 with great memories and more importantly good health.

OOOOPS, don't forget to log in to 365 pics of France or is it 366 (is it a leap year????)


  1. It is 85 degrees today in Los Angeles but I have to say that it is so nice to see pictures of summer. Glad you had a good time in Ballarat and Clunes.
    Have a wonderful, peaceful new year!

  2. Nadege - 85F sounds rather pleasant from memory. That's like gallons and miles and yet you have $$ which is metric.
    England has pounds but they're metric pounds and miles. Boy its confusing isn't it?
    We of course are all metric in all aspects.
    Wishing you the beat as well Nadege - you have been a great support and we've learn't so much in other blogs from you.

  3. Beat should be best Nadege. Damn pesky keyboard....

  4. Ah! Thank you for the Charles Condor - I really am a tad jealous - you get to see all the masterpieces while I can only dream

  5. Dianne,
    Ballarat is not that far from Adelaide.

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