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Old Photos of Ballarat That Need to Be Seen to Be Believed

Ballarat is Victoria’s third-largest city, behind Melbourne, and Geelong, and has an amazing history given its role in the Victorian gold rush of the 1880s. The city today shows signs of its gold boom past with enormous Victorian-era buildings standing on the edge of its main roads. And, of course, you can imagine how it all looked upon a visit to Ballarat’s iconic tourist attraction, Sovereign Hill.

There’s a lot of interest in Ballarat’s past. The gold rush, the ‘birthplace of Australian democracy’ given it is home to the Eureka rebellion—the original Eureka flag is on display in Ballarat itself—and its role as a large regional centre in Victoria’s early days means that there are many stories to tell about Ballarat’s past.

Thankfully we can find a lot of historic photos of Ballarat given it has always had a large population. Visiting Ballarat today you can see a lot of the buildings still that were evident in photos of its years gone by. Here are some of the most interesting old photos of Ballarat that we found.

Black Hill Cutting

Photo: W.H.Ferguson (State Library of Victoria)

Ballarat’s Black Hill as taken by W.H Ferguson in approximately 1897. Not a tree to be seen. Ballarat East can be seen at the end of the cutting with mining equipment on the floor of the cutting.

Sturt Street, Ballarat Central

Photo: W.H.Ferguson (State Library of Victoria)

W.H Ferguson was at it again with this old photo of Ballarat’s Sturt Street taken from the top of Ballarat Town Hall. Horse-drawn carts can be seen on Sturt Street, along with trams that ran on routes throughout Ballarat at the time.

Normandy North Mine, Ballarat East

Photo: W.H.Ferguson (State Library of Victoria)

Gold mines were found throughout the rich Ballarat hills. This mine, the Normandy North Mine, was in Ballarat East. You can see the poppet head, mullock heap, and surrounding gold mining structures.

Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat Central

Photo: Archibald Vincent Smith (State Library of Victoria)

Archibald Vincent captured this photo of Craig’s Royal Hotel—which still exists today—in 1870. Horse-drawn carts can be seen in front of the hotel, with patrons also standing on the balcony on the first level. Next door appears to be a warehouse that is home to an artist, and a printing office.

Sturt Street Statue Unveiling, Ballarat Central

Photo: Unknown Photographer (State Library of Victoria)

A street procession for a statue unveiling outside Ballarat Town Hall on Sturt Street. Given its location, the statue is most likely part of the Boer War Memorial that is still standing in the same place today. The image is dated 1906.

Avenue of Honour, Alfredton

Photo: Valentine Publishing Co (State Library of Victoria)

Ballarat’s iconic Avenue of Honour structure in Alfredton, captured here in the 1930s.


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