Ballarat is a city located on the Yarrowee River and lower western plains of the Great Dividing Range in the state of Victoria, Australia, approximately 105 kilometres (65 mi) west-north-west of Melbourne. It is the third most populous urban area in the state, with a population of 85,935 It is the state's most populated inland settlement, and fifth most populated inland settlement in Australia. People from Ballarat are referred to as Ballaratians.
The City of Ballarat local government area encompasses both the Greater Ballarat urban area and outlying towns with an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi) and has an urban area population of 93,501. Ballarat is its most populous urban centre, seat of local government and administrative centre.
Ballarat has a moderate oceanic climate with four seasons. Its elevation, at 435 metres (1,427 feet) above sea level, causes its mean monthly temperatures to tend to be on average 3 to 4 °C (5.4 to 7.2 °F) below those of Melbourne. The mean daily maximum temperature for January is 25.1 °C (77 °F), while the mean minimum is 10.9 °C (52 °F) In July, the mean maximum is 10.0 °C (50 °F); average July minimum is 3.2 °C (38 °F). Ballarat has 55.2 clear days annually.
The economy of Ballarat is driven by all three economic sectors, though contemporary Ballarat has emerged as a primarily service economy with its main industry being the service industry and its key areas of business including tourism, hospitality, retail, professional services, government administration and education. Secondary industry including manufacturing, which had grown in the 20th century remains an important sector. The city's historic primary industry roots including mining and agriculture continue to play a role, though one that has declined since the 20th century. Industries emerging this century include information technology service sector and renewable energy.
- 102.3 FM – 3BA (local "classic hits" commercial radio station)
- 103.1 FM – Power FM 103.1 FM (local "top-40" commercial radio station)
- 99.9 FM – Voice FM 99.9 – formerly known as 3BBB (local community radio station)
- 107.9 FM – ABC Local Radio (government-funded local news, current affairs, light entertainment and talkback)
- 103.9 FM – Good News Radio 103.9 (Christian community-based radio station)
The 2006 Australian national census indicated that the permanent population of the urban area was 78,221 out of the City of Ballarat's population of 85,196 and a total of 31,960 households.
Ballarat has witnessed a significant growth surge since 2006 and the population of the City of Ballarat is becoming increasingly urban such that statistically, the LGA is now used as the ABS statistical division. Recent rapid growth has been attributed by demographers to increased commuter activity arising from surging house and land prices in Melbourne coupled with transport upgrades between Ballarat and Melbourne. Since 2006 Ballarat has averaged an annual population growth of 1700 and in June 2008 the estimated resident population of the City of Ballarat was 91,787. In August 2009 this population had grown to 94,000
While most of the city's population can trace their ethnic roots to Anglo-Celtic descent, 8.2% of the population are born overseas. Of them, the majority (4.2%) come from North-East Europe. Just 3.4% speak a language other than English. 14.4% of the population is over the age of 65. The median age in Ballarat is 35.8 years.
Ballarat is home to two universities - Federation University Australia and the Ballarat campus of the Australian Catholic University.
Federation University Australia was until 2014 the University of Ballarat and originated as the Ballarat School of Mines, founded in 1870. It was once affiliated with the University of Melbourne. The university is headquartered at Mount Helen approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) southeast of the city and consists of six campuses, three of which are located in Ballarat Central.
The Australian Catholic University's Ballarat campus is located on Mair Street. It began life as the Aquinas Training College run by the Ballarat East Sisters of Mercy in 1909. It is ACU's only campus located outside of a capital city.
Ballarat has four State Government-operated secondary schools of which Ballarat High School (established in 1907) is the oldest. Ballarat High School and Mount Clear College are the only state school members of the Ballarat Associated Schools. The other schools are Phoenix College and Ballarat Secondary College. Ballarat Secondary College was formed in 1994 by the amalgamation of Ballarat East Secondary College, Wendouree Secondary College and Midlands Secondary College. Two private day and boarding schools in Ballarat Clarendon College and Ballarat and Queens Anglican Grammar School provide education from Preschool to Year 12. Both of these co-educational schools are classified as academically excellent as the only Ballarat schools to be ranked on the tables of the top 100 Victorian schools based on median VCE scores and percentage of scores of 40 and above. In 2010, Clarendon was placed at number 11 just below Melbourne Grammar and above The Geelong College, Scotch College and Haileybury College. Ballarat Grammar was placed at number 59 just below Wesley College and above University High, Ivanhoe Grammar, Geelong Grammar and Tintern.
The city is well serviced by Catholic schools, with eight primary schools and three secondary colleges which include the all-boys St Patrick's College, the all-girls Loreto College and the co-educational Damascus College, which was formed by the amalgamation of St Martin's in the Pines, St Paul's Technical School and Sacred Heart College in 1995.
Road transport and the motor vehicle is the main form of transport. A network of state highways radiate from Ballarat and the Western Freeway (A8) is dual carriageway bypasses the central city to the north of the urban area, providing a direct road connection to Melbourne (approximately 90 minutes), westward to Ararat (approximately 75 minutes) and Horsham. Five freeway interchanges service the urban area, East Ballarat (half diamond) interchange at Victoria Street (C805); Brown Hill interchange (full diamond) at Daylesford-Ballarat Road (C292), Creswick Road interchange (full diamond) at Wendouree (A300); the Mount Rowan interchange (half diamond) at Gillies Road, Wendouree (C307) and the Mitchell Park interchange (full diamond) at Howe Street (C287). The Midland Highway is a dual carriageway which runs north along Creswick Road to the Western Freeway interchange but becomes a single carriageway north of Ballarat to Creswick (approximately 25 minutes) and runs south as the dual carriageway of Skipton Road to Magpie before becoming a single carriageway to Geelong (approximately 87 minutes). The Glenelg Highway connects directly to Mount Gambier and the Sunraysia Highway west of Ballarat which connects directly to Mildura.
Sturt Street and Victoria Street, both dual carriageways carry the bulk of the east-west CBD traffic, while Mair Street is planned to become a four lane dual carriageway to relieve pressure on these main streets. Other dual carriageway main roads in the west include Howitt Street and Gillies Street. The busiest roads by far are located in the west and south at Albert Street in Redan, Sturt Street in Newington and Gillies Street in Lake Gardens which carry 22,400, 22,000 and 21,500 vehicles per day respectively and all have 4 traffic lanes.
Ballarat is also served by an extensive public bus service branded as Ballarat Transit which is currently operated mainly by Ballarat Coachlines and Davis Bus Service. In addition to these two companies, numerous private companies service suburban, intercity and interstate routes with coach services. Gold Bus provides additional suburban services as well as the Ballarat School Bus Network. Ballarat railway station is a major regional terminal for coach services. V/Line operates direct services to regional Victorian locations including Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Warrnambool, Mildura, Nhill, Ouyen, Halls Gap, Daylesford, Maryborough as well as the South Australian cities of Adelaide and Mount Gambier. Gold Bus operates direct regional services to links to both Avoca and Maryborough, while Sandlants operates a direct service to Stawell. Bus operates There is also a direct bus service to Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. Interstate coaches from Greyhound Australia and Firefly Express coaches stop at Ballarat on route between Melbourne and Adelaide. The local taxi fleet consists of over 57 vehicles services in all suburbs and is currently operated by Ballarat Taxis Co-op Ltd. Taxis are the only late night public transport option in the city.
Ballarat has historically been a major rail transport hub in Victoria, situated at the junction of the Ballarat line, Ararat line and Mildura lines it currently has several connections for both passenger rail services and freight rail.
The city has two passenger railway stations, the hub of Ballarat railway station and suburban Wendouree railway station. From Ballarat station, V/Line operates VLocity trains running at up to 160 km/h (99 mph) east to Melbourne, west and Ararat and north to Maryborough. Since the controversial removal of "flagship" express services in 2011, successive timetable changes have slowed peak hour services to Southern Cross Station, with the current journey taking a minimum of 73 minutes. Patronage however has continued to grow. The Regional Rail Link project is aimed at separating Ballarat trains from Melbourne's suburban rail network. Interurban services (Ballarat-Melbourne) now run half hourly during weekday peak and hourly on weekends from Ballarat station. A twice daily (56 minute) service connects Ballarat to Ararat while there is a (52 minute) service to and from Maryborough (stopping at Creswick) once a day each way. Victoria's electronic ticketing system, Myki, was implemented on rail services between Wendouree and Melbourne on 24 July 2013.
Ballarat is connected to Geelong by rail via the Geelong-Ballarat railway line, which currently operates only for freight (passenger services were withdrawn in 1978) although in 2011, a planning study began for returning of passenger services along the line to investigate connecting both cities to Bendigo via Maryborough and Castlemaine. There are also several disused railway corridors and stations along the Skipton railway, Buninyong railway. A former branch line built in 1886 to Redan was sold off by VicTrack and finally dismantled in 2010. The freight line forked off the Singleton line at Lake Gardens running south through Alfredton and then east parallel to Latrobe Street, past the Cattle yards and on to Redan (now Delacombe).
The once extensive Ballarat tramway network operated between 1887 and 1971 with a small section of remaining track being utilised as a tourist and museum tramway. There have been proposals to extend the network, particularly as a major tourist facility but also to connect it to the railways and return it as a viable component of the Ballarat public transport system, including a strong lobby in both 2001–2002 and 2010–11, however Ballarat City Council has dismissed the proposals.