It is approximately 105 kilometres (65 mi) north-west of Melbourne, with an urban population of 88,437 people. The city lies at 441 metres (1,447 ft) AHD and consists of an area of approximately 740 square kilometres (286 sq mi), with the city occupying a built up area of approximately 75 square kilometres (29 sq mi).
The site of the city was originally a stock station established by William Cross Yuille and Henry Anderson in 1838 and named Ballarat (originally under the spelling Ballaarat), which is generally believed to be derived from local Aboriginal dialect meaning ‘resting place’. The settlement, originally known as Ballarat, flourished in the early 1850s when gold was discovered, the Post Office opening on November 1, 1851
With a huge influx of population and wealth as a major participant in the Gold Rush, Ballarat was, for a time, Victoria’s largest township.
Ballarat is notable as the site for Australia’s only armed civil uprising, colloquially referred to as the Eureka Stockade but more correctly titled the Eureka Rebellion, which took place on 3 December 1854. The event, in which 22 miners died, is considered to be a defining moment in Australian history. The purported site of the rebellion contains an historical park and a memorial to the event. The remains of the original Eureka Flag are on public display in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.
During the last 50 years of the 19th century Ballarat prospered on gold mining, being proclaimed a city in 1871. The railway came to the town with the opening of the Geelong-Ballarat line in 1862, with the current direct route to Melbourne completed in December 1889.
Ballarat is linked directly to Melbourne by a combination of state highway and dual carriageway freeway. Regular rail services on the Ballarat Line from Ballarat railway station run to Melbourne, in addition to the Ararat Line that runs in the opposite direction. Ballarat is also served by an extensive public bus service and taxi system.
Ballarat is renowned for its cultural heritage and decorative arts, especially applied to the built environment, combined with the gold rush, this has created a picturesque urban landscape. In 2003 Ballarat was the first of two Australian cities to be registered as a member of the International League of Historical Cities and in 2006 hosted the 10th World League of Historical Cities Congress.
The city also has the greatest concentration of public statuary in any Australian city with many parks and streets featuring sculptures and statues dating from the 1860s to the present day.
Ballarat has an extensive array of significant war memorials, the most recent of which is the Australian Ex Prisoner of War Memorial. The most prominent memorial in the city is the Ballarat Victory Arch that spans the old Western Highway on the Western approaches of the city. The archway serves as the focal point for the Avenue of Honour. Other significant individual monuments located along Sturt Street include those dedicated to the Boer War (1899-1901), the World War II (1939-1945) cenotaph, and Vietnam (1962-1972) (located adjacent to the Arch of Victory).
Ballarat’s major industries include tourism and hospitality, textiles, small engineering, food products, brick and tile manufacture, building, prefabricated housing, automotive components, education and information technology services. Other major sectors of employment in the city include retailing, service industries, state and federal government branch offices and agencies and health care.