Ballarat, Victoria

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Ballarat (pronounced /ˈbæləræt/)[2] is a city in the state of Victoria, Australia, approximately 105 kilometres (65 mi) north-west of the state capital Melbourne. It is the largest inland centre and the third most populous city in the state. The estimated urban area population is 94,088.[3] It is the administrative centre for the City of Ballarat, which encompasses both the urban area and outlying towns spanning an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi). Inhabitants of Ballarat are known as Ballaratians.[4]

It was named by Scottish settler Archibald Yuille who established the sheep run called Ballaarat in 1837[5] with the name derived from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat, thought to mean 'resting place'.

Ballarat is one of the most significant Victorian era boomtowns in Australia. Gold was discovered in Poverty Point on 21 August 1851 and the area of Ballarat was later found to be a rich alluvial field where gold could easily be extracted. News of the finds intensified the Victorian gold rush bringing over 10,000 migrants to the city from around the world within a year and transforming it from a station to a major settlement in the newly proclaimed Colony of Victoria. Australia's first gold stamp mill was established at Ballarat in 1854.

Ballarat was the site of the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed civil uprising in Australian history which took place on 3 December 1854 and an event controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia. Many significant Australian cultural icons are also a legacy of Ballarat's gold rush boom. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag has become a national symbol and is held at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Australia's oldest and largest regional gallery. Other nationally significant heritage structures include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, established 1857, the best example of a regional botanic gardens in Australia[6] with the greatest concentration of public statuary[7] including the official Prime Minister's Avenue; the longest running lyric theatre building, Her Majesty's, established 1875;[8] the first municipal observatory, established 1886;[9] and the earliest and longest memorial avenue, the Avenue of Honour, established between 1917 and 1919.[10]

Ballarat's prosperity continued until late in the 19th Century, when its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics. It is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and the largest city in the Goldfields region of Victoria – a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well preserved Victorian era heritage.

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