One of the most significant colonial-era boomtowns in Australia, Ballarat is the largest inland city in the state of Victoria. Situated at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and the catchment of the Yarrowee River, the city is located some 118 kilometres west-north-west of Melbourne. Its name, derived from the Aboriginal phrase balla arat (meaning "resting place"), was coined by Scottish settler, Archibald Yuille.
Established in 1838 and later proclaimed a city in 1871, Ballarat is governed locally by the City of Ballarat LGA. The city is part of the State Districts of Ballarat East and Ballarat West (in the Victorian Legislative Assembly) and the Federal Division of Ballarat (in the Australian House of Representatives). With 96,097 estimated residents over an area of 740 square kilometres, it is the third most populous city in Victoria.
In August 1851, John Dunlop and James Regan struck gold in Ballarat. The discovery and its subsequent announcement prompted prospectors to pour into the area, contributing to the Victorian gold rush. Soon, people from around the world began migrating in, thereby transforming the area into a major settlement. Gold mining became such a prosperous industry between the 1850s and 60s that Ballarat was nicknamed "The Golden City". Today, the "gold rush ambience" remains part of the city's culture.
Ballarat has much to offer its local and visiting tourists, thanks to its rich cultural, historical, and natural heritage. As such, the city's tourism industry, which attracts some 2.2 million visitors annually, accounts for about 15 percent of its economy.
Some of its most popular events are the Ballarat Begonia Festival, Ballarat Heritage Weekend, Ballarat Show, Goldfields Music Festival, and SpringFest. To learn about the city's history, one may visit some of its significant places, such as the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Gold Museum, Kirrit Barreet, Kryal Castle, and Sovereign Hill. Nature lovers will certainly appreciate some of the city's outdoor locations, such as the Ballarat Bird World, Ballarat Botanic Gardens, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Creswick Regional Park, and Enfield State Park.