The city of Ballarat was named by Scottish squatter Archibald Yuille who established the first settlement—his sheep run called Ballaarat—in 1837, with the name derived from local Wathaurong Aboriginal words for the area, balla arat, thought to mean "resting place".
The city is actually pretty populous for an inland city and offers lots of amenities, but to me Sovereign Hill, the old gold mining camp which is a living history museum tops the list of attractions. You will be taken back in time to the Victorian gold rush in Australia.
Every guide you speak to will remain in 1850’s character whether you are shopping at the general store, visiting one of the miner’s tents, visiting the school-house or a Budist altar that would have been used for worship by the Chinese workers. Best of all is the trip down into the gold mine where you walk the narrow underground channels where the wall and roofs are supported by thick wooden beams (not for the claustrophobic), see the antique mining equipment and where you can view the largest gold nugget ever found in Australia!
But the thing that finally met my movie/novel picture of Australia bush, were the sheep. Adorable, fluffy, huggable sheep. Then we ran across a wool warehouse and sale building and the picture was made complete. My vision of Australian sheep farms was met.
This crazy duality continued as we walked the one main street to a smoke filled bar right out of Victorian times. The thick cigarette smoke really turned us off, so we opted not to go in and found ourselves at a tiny pizza parlor where a small group of white and aboriginal teenagers were happily picking up a to-go pizza order.
This really brought home where we were and the modern cultural realities of inland Australia. Movie fantasy meets the real world!