We caught the 58 tram into town and walked down the hill to Southern Cross Station. It took a little time to get the free tickets organised.
We were on the train only a couple of minutes before it was due to depart, the best seats already taken, but we did find two forward facing seats with opposing facing seats near the noisy air con intake on a VLocity train. I love hearing the motors rev to generate power to move the train.
Once clear of the suburbs, the train moved at a spanking pace, reaching its 160 km/h maximum speed at times. I mostly gazed out at the passing scenery, while R mostly gazed at his phone.
Caroline Springs suburb has been in existence for many years, perhaps over two decades or more, but only this year did a train station open there to service the suburb. But the station is in the middle of nowhere. Not a house to be seen from the train. Don't give up your car too soon. I didn't get a photo but we passed by a large body of water. Is it a lake? Is it wide river? It was both, Melton Reservoir fed by Werribee River.
There is a village in the distance. Right, Bacchus Marsh. Not exactly a village but a decent sized town.
The journey took about one hour and twenty minutes. I had heard Ballarat Station was impressive. It is.
These are former railway goods sheds. They are constructed with local bluestone which litters the landscape in this western part of Victoria. It is a very hard lava rock and is used in many places in Melbourne, from buildings, to edging, to kerb and channels, to laneway paving. I believe the sheds are being converted into a convention centre after sitting empty for decades.
Wow, there are just so many historic and preserved buildings in Ballarat. Ballarat was founded on wealth from gold mining and was the site of the Eureka Stockade or rebellion, where miners bravely but unsuccessfully stood up to authorities over the cost of mining licenses and other matter. It is suggested the rebellion led to the birth of democracy in Australia. So, Ballarat is very important in Australia's history.
The Regent Theatre.
A strange display in Police Lane.
The George Hotel, built in 1902, there being two former George Hotels. Click on this link to see the brilliant view from the hotel verandah. Pity about the plastic but the weather was still cool then. I once had two pen and ink drawings, one of The George Hotel, the other of Craigs Hotel, coming later.
Commercial buildings. On the side we were walking, it was just cafe after cafe, all of them seemingly very quiet on what should have been, I would have thought, a busy Friday lunch time. They would not be at all viable if they were paying Melbourne levels rents.
We passed all the buildings above in a walk along Lydiard Street North of about 200 metres from the station. Across the main street, Sturt Street, the third building along with the tower is Craigs Hotel. It was built in 1865 and is a rather upmarket hotel but it has had patchy times in the past.
The centre of the wide Sturt Street is public gardens and what would a country town in Victoria be without a statue of her good self with the grumpy visage.
The Myer department store is within this building. The windows had a Christmas display, which was part of last year's Melbourne store's display.
We found a bakery and had a pleasant lunch. I think I had a beef pie.
We crossed Sturt Street, past the concrete George V.
Ballarat Town Hall.
Parts of Ballarat can be a bit rough, but there were a number of rainbow flags being flown, this one at the town hall. I think we were there just after the vote count for marriage equality.
Well spotted R. I had forgotten about the old spelling of Ballaarat. Note the extra a. The name Ballaarat came from two Aboriginal words, balla and arat, hence the two aa letters together. Both spellings were used, resulting in much confusion. I believe the current Ballarat spelling became pretty well formalised about 1920.
Ballarat Post Office.
Her Majesty's Theatre opened in 1875 and has since then be continually in use for performing arts.
The rotunda in the central gardens of Sturt Street.
Salvation Army citadel.
Nice block of flats. Nice rainbow flag. Ugly placement of air conditioning unit.
The roof of the building behind intrigues me.
Erected by the Ballarat Historical Society in 1951 to commemorate the centenary of the discovery of gold.
There is a little art deco in Ballarat.
A statue of Scottish poet Robbie Burns. One wonders why. We called in to the small gallery at the old Post Office, now being a space for Federation University. There were small sculptures of humans in various states of dismemberment and decay. It was revolting. We quickly left.
We had about 15 minutes before our train to have a look at a proper gallery with pretty pictures and wish we had an hour or more to spare. The gallery was brilliant, with many famous Australian paintings and artists who I knew of but not their work on display here. We have seen the excellent regional Bendigo and Geelong galleries and this one sits well with them. Ballarat Art Gallery is the largest and oldest regional gallery in Australia, having opened in 1890.
Old style railway gates in Lydiard Street North. Our train was coming from the Ararat terminus.
I like that the old disused semaphore railway signals have been retained. We stood on the platform waiting for the train and the gates half closed, opened, fully closed, opened, half closed and this went on for a few minutes, much to the frustration of car drivers. I don't know if the malfunctioning gates delayed our train, because it did arrive a few minutes late. We scrambled aboard quickly and found two forward facing seats on the train that was already quite busy. Rather extraordinary really. We were city bound on a Friday afternoon, with no significant events on in Melbourne and by Melton Station people were having to stand.
A very odd looking house, somewhere along the way.
While I love very high speed train travel at 300 plus km/h, it is a bit hard to see the views. At 160 km/h, you can see much better.
A religious building.
Another religious building which at least I know is a Buddhist temple.
I, and I expect many others, have never seen the front of this statue of Buddha. Our train arrived at Southern Cross Station on time at the station and we caught a suburban train to Flinders Street and the tram home. Ballarat Station to our front door in less than 1 hour 40 minutes. Not bad. Next year the Ballarat line will undergo significant upgrades.