As I mentioned previously, I spent part of the Christmas break with family in Ballarat, about an hour outside of Melbourne. Ballarat has an interesting history [Note: warning aesthetes, ugly website. You might like this one better.], it was a wealthy mining town in the late 1800s and the site of one of Australia's most famous civil insurrections, the Eureka Stockade. You can see the wealth that was centered around Ballarat from the magnificent buildings still standing in the town centre.
Ballarat has about 90,000 people these days, and is growing rapidly as house prices are making it a more attractive proposition for families in Melbourne. (You can buy a heritage listed 3 bedroom house for less than the cost of a single bedroom apartment in Sydney!) A new rail link has cut down the travel time to Melbourne to about 1 hour on an express, so many people are now doing it as a daily commute.
To be honest, it's too small a town for my taste, but it is very pretty and would be a nice place to raise a family I would think. I was especially taken with the broad streets lined with beautiful Victorian style homes, with verandahs and iron lacework. So pretty! As my sister pointed out, it's also like the Day Spa capital of the world or something. Once she mentioned that I couldn't stop seeing them...
I think that's a point in its favour, don't you?
Some of the streets of Ballarat are so intact architecturally, that with minimal dressing they have been used as film sets for movies set in the Australian goldrush era.
I also fell in love with some of the Art Deco facades still exisiting in the town centre, like the one below.
My sister used to be quite the photographer back in the day, so she was very tolerant and understanding of me charging up streets to photograph some building facade I spotted. I think secretly she was just pleased that I was enjoying the town where she has decided to live and raise her kids. She has certainly been able to afford a lifestyle that she wouldn't have been able to afford elsewhere, the kids are in a good school and her career is charging ahead.
Can't argue with that now, can you? Plus, all that Day Spa access...
[Click on any of the pics to see them full size on Flickr.]