Ballarat is Victoria's largest inland city. It started
back in 1838 when a squatter called William Yuille camped on the shores of the Black
Swamp, now known as Lake Wendouree. "Balla"
"Arat" was derived from the meaning resting or camping place.
Gold was discovered at Poverty Point in 1851 by John Dunlop and James Regan who found a
few ounces while panning in the Canadian Creek. By the following year there were around
20,000 diggers searching in the shafts of the Ballarat Goldfields. Due to this population
explosion, Ballarat was proclaimed a town in 1852. By 1855, Ballarat was a municipality, a
borough by 1863 and a city in 1870.
By the early 1850's, the Government in Melbourne had set up a system of Gold Licences
to allow miners to search for gold on a specified piece of land. The Licence fee was paid
regardless if the miner found gold or not. If found without a licence, the digger was
forced to pay a fine of £10 or be chained to a log until the fine was paid. The diggers
became frustrated over the frequency and corrupt manner of how the Goldfields Police went
about their Licence checks. Due to a shortage of manpower, many of the police were
ex-convicts. The Government gave them the power to undertake checks, and many, because of
their background went about their duty in a ruthless manner. The diggers had no say as
they had no representation in Parliament.
By 1854, the Police ordered twice weekly licence checks due to the lack of co-operation
from miners. This caused more resentment around the goldfields. On October 7 1854, James
Scobie was murdered at Bentley's Eureka Hotel. On October 12, after a riot by miners,
Bentley's Hotel was burned to the ground in protest of Bentley's acquittal of murdering
James Scobie. Three miners were arrested and sent to prison. A retrial followed later and
Bentley and two others were found guilty of the manslaughter of James Scobie and sent to
prison. On November 11, the Ballarat Reform League was formed with the view of abolishing
licences and having the miners released. Due to the lack of response to these demands and
set up a stockade on the Eureka Lead. Led by Peter Lalor, on by authorities and the miners
increasing frustration, the miners burned their licences the 3rd December 1854, the miners
went into battle after Government soldiers unexpectedly stormed the stockade early that
morning. The battle lasted for around fifteen minutes and in that time up to thirty miners
and six Government troopers were killed. One hundred and fourteen miners were taken
Within six months, legislation was passed to give miners a fairer deal. The monthly
Gold Tax was abolished and miners were given the right to vote., Installed was a miners
right costing £2 per year later reduced to £1. People could now see the injustice of the
whole situation. All miners arrested after the rebellion and those sentenced for the
burning of Bentley's Eureka Hotel were released. Peter Lalor, who had been in hiding since
the uprising came out of hiding. He became the first member for Ballarat West to be
represented in the Legislative Assembly and later became Speaker of the House.
In the year 1858 the second largest gold nugget ever found in Australia, the
"Welcome Nugget" was found at Bakery Hill, Ballarat. By the 1860's, the prospect
of finding gold in Ballarat East had nearly diminished. By this time, many of the alluvial
mines in that area had declined and companies were formed to start much deeper mining in
the West and South of Ballarat. To establish these mines, heavy equipment was needed.
Foundries such as the Phoenix Foundry were established to cope with this demand. By now,
the town was supported by industries such as flour mills and agriculture related
Picture right - Lydiard St North circa 1861 (Banks and George
When the rail came through in 1862, it opened many more opportunities such as
shops and markets, trades like blacksmiths had been established many years earlier to
expand both towards Melbourne and the Wimmera. When the last mine closed in 1918, Ballarat
had enough industry and service bases to support it for many years to come.
Today Ballarat is a major industry city with well known companies such as Mars
Confectionery, McCains Foods, Bendix Mintex, Timken and Selkirk Bricks all established in
Ballarat. Some of the area's primary industries include, gold, clay, potatoes, wool and
Ballarat is easily accessible by road, rail and has an airport. It has a strong service
and tourism base with attractions like Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Sovereign Hill, Montrose
Cottage and Eureka Stockade allowing the visitor to experience what it was like back in
the gold days of the 1850's.
An exert from Mark Twain's Book - Following the
Equator - Road to Ballarat - Click Here
History Tours of Ballarat (with a difference)
Drummond St Sth, Ballarat. Phone: 1300 856668
Ballarat Ghost Tours provides an evening filled with the darkest
stories of Australia's most haunted city. Operated by professional
Historians and Tour guides, Ballarat Ghost Tours is the ultimate in
evening entertainment. Tours operate Wed - Sun. Our Dinner packages
offer amazing value for those wishing for a unique experience,
catering from individuals to groups of 30.
OF SOME BALLAARAT NAMES
BALLARAT OR BALLAARAT?
One of the most often asked question is "Do you spell Ballarat with four a's or
three a's? It is generally accepted that the origin of the name came from two aboriginal
words signifying a camping or resting place - "Balla" meaning elbow or reclining
on the elbow and "Arat" meaning place.
The first white settler (1837), Scotsman Archibald
Yuille, called his property "Ballarat". We cannot know how a
Scotsman pronounced an aboriginal word, but in 1851 another Scot arrived
to officially survey the area and he recorded the towns name as Ballaarat.
When the first local paper arrived in 1854, three years later, it was
called the "Ballarat Times" (perhaps the typesetter ran out of
Official government documents used the double
"a" spelling and successive local councils varied the number of
"a's" according to the prevailing fashion of the time,
Prior to amalgamation of the councils in 1994, the
municipality of the City of Ballaarat was the official spelling for the corporation
that was the Council, though the official spelling for place name
purposes of the area (then comprised of several municipalities)
When the new single Ballarat City Council was gazetted
in 1994 the single "a" version was adopted for the corporation,
to align it to the area's place-name,
Therefore both spellings were legitimate at different
times in the city's history and can still be seen on buildings and in
OTHER LOCAL NAMES
As extracted from W B Withers "History of Ballarat" which was first published
in 1870 (page 13).
Wendouree is the anglicised form of Wendaaree, a native word signifying "be
off", "off you go". Yarrowee is probably a Scottish settler's use of the
Scottish Yarrow, with diminutive to suit the smaller stream.
Buninyong or, as the natives
have it, Bunning-yowang, means a big hill like a knee - bunning meaning knee, and yowang
hill. This name was given by the local aboriginals to Mount Buninyong because the mount, when seen
from a given point, resembled a man lying on his back with his knee drawn up.
corrupted to Warrenheip, means emu feathers; the name was given to Mount Warrenheip from
the appearance presented by the ferns and other forest growths there. Gong Gong, or Gang
Gang, is an aboriginal name for a species of parrots. Burrumbeet means muddy water, and
Yoady Yalock standing water.