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Confidence of the city's early citizens in the enduring future of their city is evident in the sheer scale of many of the early public buildings, generous public recreational spaces, and opulence of many of its commercial establishments and private housing. A local steam locomotive industry developed from with the Phoenix Foundry operating until From the late s to the early 20th century, Ballarat made a successful transition from a gold rush town to an industrial-age city.

The ramshackle tents and timber buildings gradually made way for permanent buildings, many impressive structures of solid stone and brick mainly built from wealth generated by early mining. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh visited between 9 and 13 December and as the first royal visit, the occasion was met with great fanfare.

The later attempt of the Prince's assassination by Ballaratian Henry James O'Farrell was met with shock and great horror from locals. Ballarat was proclaimed a city in Gong Gong reservoir was built in to alleviate flooding and to provide a permanent water supply. A direct railway to Melbourne was completed in December Local boosterists at the start of the 20th century adopted the nickname " Athens of Australia", first used to describe the city by the prestigious Irish-Australian jurist and politician of the early 20th century Sir John Madden.

The first electricity supply was completed in by the Electric Supply Company of Victoria. A bluestone power station was built at the corner of Ripon Street and Wendouree Parade in with the main aim of providing the power required for electrification of the city's tramway network. Following the start of the 20th century, however, mining activity slowed and Ballarat's growth all but stopped—the city went into a period of decline and saw a reversal of the fortunes acquired in the previous century.

The Sunshine rail disaster in resulted in the death of dozens of Ballarat residents.


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During the storm, a tornado swept across the city's northern and eastern suburbs destroying numerous homes in Ballarat North , Soldiers Hill , Black Hill and Ballarat East , lifting and then again touching down at Eureka where it destroyed more homes before dissipating. One bright spot in this period was the establishment of Osrey Pottery in by the artist Gladys Reynell , one of Australia's first potters, and her husband, George Samuel Osborne.

The pottery closed in when Osborne developed lead poisoning. Ballarat's significant representation during WWI resulted in heavy human loss. The city eventually lost first provincial status to Geelong. While deep, the depression was also brief. The interwar period proved a period of recovery for Ballarat with a number of major infrastructure projects well underway including a new sewerage system.

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Australian Dictionary of Biography

In , Ballarat Airport was established. By , Ballarat's economy and population was recovering strongly with further diversification of industry, although in Geelong displaced it as the state's second largest city. In , Ballarat became connected to the state electricity grid by a 66, kV line. In the post-war era, Ballarat's growth continued. In response to an acute housing shortage, significant suburban expansion occurred. While planning for the estate began in , main construction occurred between and The s brought a new optimism to the city.

On 17 April it was announced that Lake Wendouree was to be the venue for rowing events of the Summer Olympics, [26] and work soon began on an Olympic village in Gillies Street. A new prefabricted power terminal substation at Norman Street Ballarat North was constructed between and by the State Electricity Commission. Elizabeth II visited on 8 March On 23 November , the Olympic torch was carried through the city, and the following day the rowing events were held at the lake.

During the following decades, the city saw increased threats to its heritage. In , the Ballarat City Council passed laws banning pillar-supported verandahs in the CBD, which threatened the removal of historic cast iron verandahs in the city. The by-law was met by staunch opposition from the National Trust, which had begun campaigning to protect some of the city's most historic buildings. With the opening of Sovereign Hill , the city made a rapid shift to become a major cultural tourist destination, visited by thousands each year.

During the s, a further houses were constructed at Wendouree West. Private housing in the adjacent suburb of Wendouree closely matched and eventually eclipsed this by the mids.

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The suburb of greater Wendouree and Wendouree West had evolved as the suburban middle-class heart of the city. The city continued to grow at the national average throughout the late 20th century and early 21st century. In the City of Ballarat released a plan directing that growth of the city over the next 30 years is to be concentrated to the west of the city centre. The Ballarat West Growth Area Plan was approved by the city and state government in , planning an extensive fringe development consisting of 14, new homes and up to 40, new residents including new activity centres and employment zones.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse final report published on 15 December found that people made a claim of child sexual abuse to the Diocese of Ballarat between and and that there was 21 alleged perpetrators identified in claims. Of the 21 alleged and convicted perpetrators 17 were priests which is 8. Also known as the Central Highlands , it is named so because of its gentle hills and lack of any significant mountains that are more common in the eastern sections of the Great Dividing Range.

The city lies within a mostly gently undulating section of the midland plains which stretch from Creswick in the north, to Rokewood in the south, and from Lal Lal in the south-east to Pittong in the west. Geologically, the area consists of alluvial sediment and volcanic flows originating from now-extinct volcanoes such as nearby Buninyong and Warrenheip, which are the area's tallest peaks. As a result, the basin contains large areas of fertile agricultural soil.

Along with the visible river and creeks, the catchment basin has numerous active and inactive aquifers and natural wetlands, which are used for urban water supply, agriculture and recreation. There are numerous densely forested areas around Ballarat; however due to historic wood milling and land clearing there remain no old-growth forests. The major natural bodies of water are in the west and include the former shallow swamps of Lake Wendouree which is central to the city's western suburbs and beyond Winter's Swamp and the large Lake Burrumbeet wetland complex.


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Almost all of the other numerous bodies of water have been created artificially and include several reservoirs, the largest being the White Swan Reservoir and smaller suburban lakes such as Lake Esmond. The reach of the Yarrowee River toward Ballarat Central becomes a stormwater drain and is completely covered over as it flows under the CBD. The city is home to nationally significant heritage structures. These include the Ballarat Botanical Gardens established , [52] with the greatest concentration of public statuary, [53] the official Prime Ministers Avenue , the longest running lyric theatre building Her Majesty's Theatre, established , [54] the first municipal observatory , established , [55] and the earliest and longest war memorial avenue the Avenue of Honour , established between and Ballarat is a primarily low-rise city.

The City of Ballarat defines two Major Activity Centres within the urban area — the Central Business District CBD and Wendouree with a high concentration of business, retail and community function based primarily on the Melbourne planning model and a further 11 neighbourhood activity centres. Beyond the central area, urban Ballarat extends into several suburban areas with a mixture of housing styles. Predominant styles are 19th-century villas, Victorian terraces, [58] Federation homes and Georgian red brick homes.

Settlement patterns around Ballarat consist of small villages and country towns, some with less than a few thousand people. The Central Business District located in Ballarat Central is a large mixed-use office and retail district bounded to the north by railway lines, to the west by Drummond Street, to the south to Grant street and to the east by Princes Street and spanning the floodplain of the Yarrowee River.

The post gold rush era has seen a boom in expansion, extending the conurbation north, south and west. Wendouree is currently the only major suburban activity centre with a large indoor shopping mall—Stockland Shopping Centre expanded in [61] and also has a number of surrounding retail parks including a strip shopping centre along Howitt Street including the large retail chain Harvey Norman.

Elsewhere are small suburban hubs with supermarkets such as IGA supermarkets and small stretches of shopfronts.

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Unlike Melbourne, Ballarat does not have a defined urban growth boundary. In response to lobbying by landholders, the Ballarat West Growth Area Plan, a major greenfield land development plan, was prepared and has approved by the city and state government to allow for planned fringe communities consisting of 14, new homes and up to 40, new residents, effectively doubling the city's urban area by extending the urban sprawl from Sebastopol, Delacombe and Alfredton west toward Bonshaw , Smythes Creek and Cardigan [45] [46] with a new suburb to be known as Lucas to be created.

Ballarat has The mean annual rainfall is millimetres There are an average of rain-free days per year. Flooding of the Yarrowee catchment occurs occasionally. In a serious flood of the Yarrowee River put most of the lower section of business district including Bridge and Grenville streets under water and caused the loss of two lives.

More recently higher rainfall levels have been recorded including Light snowfall typically falls on nearby Mount Buninyong and Mount Warrenheip at least once a year but in the urban area only during heavy winters.

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Widespread frosts and fog are more common during the cooler months. Snow has been known to fall heavily. Heavy snow seasons occurred in — and — with record falls in , and moderate snow seasons were recorded during the s and s. Snowfalls in the urban area have occurred in recent years: November light , [73] July heavy , [74] [75] June light , [76] August light , [77] August moderate [78] and June light. Ballarat's highest maximum recorded temperature was While there are no national parks in Ballarat's proximity, Ballarat is bordered by extensive bushland to the north, south and south west and sensitive wetlands to the east.

There are also smaller parks, like Black Hill and Victoria Park, located within walking distance of the city centre. Ballarat is unique in Australia—and internationally—for having retained much of its commons land, which can be used by any resident of Ballarat.

Ballarat Town Common can be accessed via Howe Street in Miners Rest and is used by dog walkers and ramblers, especially because of its open grass fields and native wetland.