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Looking for Backpacker Jobs in Ballarat?
Once a combination of outback wilderness and undeveloped farmland, Ballarat sprang into life when gold was discovered in the 1850s, leading to perhaps the defining event in early Australian history – the gold rush.
Like its neighbour Bendigo, Ballarat went from nothing to a bustling metropolis within a handful of years, as waves of pioneers both local and international flocked to the Victorian town to get rich quick.
Ballarat was luckier than most gold mining towns, being home to rich deposits that lasted decades. And rather than turn into a ghost town when the mines did run dry, Ballarat managed to invest its wealth back into itself, ensuring it remained an important rural hub after the rush. And thanks to its beauty and history, this town remains as vibrant as ever.
But is Ballarat a must-see destination for a working holidaymaker? And what exactly might the city offer 417 and 462 visa holders?
Let’s take a look.
Where is Ballarat, and how do I get there?
Ballarat is located in regional Victoria, situated around 100km west of the state capital of Melbourne, and 100km south of its gold mining sister city, Bendigo. Its proximity to Melbourne means that Ballarat can be done as a weekend or even day trip, being just an hour and a half’s drive (or a two hour bus ride) from the CBD.
What is Ballarat famous for?
One word defines Ballarat more than any other: gold.
The shiny metal has a connection to almost everything in the town, whether directly, like the open air museum of Sovereign Hill, or indirectly, like the stunning Victorian-era buildings in the town centre that were constructed with the funds dug up from the ground.
It is also argued by many learned scholars that Ballarat is the birthplace of Australian democracy. In 1854 miners around Ballarat revolted against colonial authority during the Eureka Rebellion, showing that workers wanted a say in how they were governed. This eventually paved the way for the political democracy that the country enjoys today.
What are Ballarat's must see attractions?
- Sovereign Hill: Exactly what was life like for those brave pioneers who went searching for wealth in the outback? Sovereign Hill is Australia’s most immersive historical recreation, and aims to show visitors exactly that.
- Ballarat Wildlife Park: Far from just another zoo, here you’ll find a wealth of native animals (including Australia’s oldest wombat), as well as having cute encounters with meerkats, penguins and a gentle giant tortoise.
- Ballarat Botanical Gardens: Beautiful Lake Wendouree takes prime position in the centre of Ballarat, and at its western edge you’ll find the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, whose trees are as old as the city itself.
- The Gold Museum: Did you come up empty handed at Sovereign Hill? Head next door to The Gold Museum, where you can learn about (and play with) the real stuff, as well as hearing how Ballarat became the gold capital of Australia.
What should I see in the Ballarat area?
- Hepburn Springs: Located a short drive north east of Ballarat, this little town sits on Australia’s greatest concentration of mineral springs, which, we’re reliably told, are great for the complexion.
- Grampians National Park: A beautiful, mountainous national park situated 150km/one and a half hours’ drive west of Ballarat, the Grampians showcase the rugged and truly unique beauty of southern Australia.
- Bendigo: Ballarat’s sister town to the north, Bendigo has a uniquely artsy and multicultural feel for a rural Australian town.
- Kryal Castle: Kitsch? Most certainly. But that doesn’t make a trip to Kryal Castle, a medieval-themed park just outside Ballarat, any less fun!
Where should I stay in Ballarat?
- For a discount dorm bed: Perfectly cheap and cheerful, The Eastern Hotel is one of the few places in Ballarat that offers dormitory accommodation, and boasts a great location near the centre of town.
- For something slightly fancier: Redruth is a beautiful little miner’s cottage that welcomes weary travellers in for the most comfortable and homely of stays, and at a very reasonable price point.
- To treat yourself: For the same rate as a more standard private in Melbourne or Sydney, you can enjoy the lap of luxury in Ballarat, a fact best encapsulated by the lavish experience on offer at Craig’s Royal Hotel.
Is there work for backpackers in Ballarat?
If you’re a 417 or 462 visa holder looking for a job - be it to refill your savings account or to gain a second year visa - Ballarat is a fantastic option.
Tourism generates plenty of jobs both directly and indirectly here, which means you could find yourself serving coffees on the Main Street, or dressing up in old-timey clothes for a day of play-acting at Sovereign Hill. For those looking for the specified work needed to extend their visa, the farming and construction industries are strong here too!
So, is Ballarat worth a visit for a working holidaymaker? It’s fair to say that Ballarat is exciting and historic as any rural city in Australia, and is rarely short of work for those who are eagerly looking for it.
But in reality, there’s only one way to find out whether Ballarat is worth a visit – and that’s to take a look for yourself!