Having grown up in Ballarat since grade 6, I made friends quiet easily at school and was lucky enough to continue those friendships on through adulthood. These days I rarely see my school friends, but I still love them dearly and miss those days of constant companionship. More recently, through work, and social media I have been lucky again to have made some incredible new friends, and I know that in times when I feel like there is nobody available to catch up with, I always have my family too. I can drop in to my Nan, or visit an aunty, see what my brothers are up to and take my son for a play with his cousins.
But I’m not sure what I would do in a new town, if I were to leave everything and everyone I know and love behind, and start fresh in a whole new community. It would be quiet scary, and the idea of approaching complete strangers and asking for their friendship seems ridiculous. Although that’s exactly what children do! Why are we any different as adults?
So I have put together some suggestions on ways for new residents to Ballarat to make friends, or at least get out into some social circles and have grown up conversations and hopefully strike up some new relationships, without being creepy or invasive.
- Sports – if you are into any kind of sport or physical activity, it will be here for you! Whatever your taste, Ballarat has everything from yoga to netball, touch footy to women’s grid iron. There is roller skating for fitness and roller skating derby, water aerobics, mums & bubs fitness classes, dancing, tennis, badminton, martial arts, boxing, basketball, soccer, aussie rules, cricket, and the list just goes on.
- Playgroups – Ballarat has no shortage of playgroups. There is one in just about every suburb of Ballarat, if not more, all at various times and days. There is even a playgroup for Dads and a playgroup for families with premature & ex-premmie babies. A good starting place to find local playgroups is Playgroups Victoria. Search is by postcode, so for Sebas / Delacombe you must enter 3356.
- The Good Book Club – Ballarat Lifestyle Magazine operate a 6 weekly book club, with great reads and meetups at Ballarat’s premier venues! Wine, nibbles, lovely people and of course, the books.
- Parent Place – operated by the City of Ballarat, Parent Place is a free drop in centre open to all families. Located in the centre of town, it has free tea & coffee, couches to sit on, lots of toys & books for the kids to play, and friendly volunteers with lots of information available. The centre is also the office for Family Day Care enquiries and they have Maternal & Child Health Nurses and Lactation Consultants available on set days. As well as heaps of activities scheduled through the week such as story time, music, crafts etc. It’s very easy to spend a couple of hours there on a quiet day and enjoy the chatter of other mums.
- Volunteering – if you’re new to town, a great way to meet people is to get into the community and see where you can help. Would you like to join a church? Or be part of a Rotary club? Maybe you’d like to help out with disadvantaged folk or kids at risk or with special needs. There are so many opportunities for volunteering in Ballarat. Have look here for some starting suggestions.
- Ballarat Family Guide – it’s not necessarily our aim to be friendship match makers, but if we can help and you are really struggling with your move to the region, please reach out to us. Sometimes we have random things happening like playground get togethers, and coffee meetups at local cafes. We might even be heading to a market stall or a local event, which gives you someone you “know” to chat to when you get there. We certainly aren’t the centre of Ballarat society, and we definitely don’t know every person and every event in town, but when you see a familiar face that you’ve seen on the Internet, we are more than happy for you to think of us as your friends! We may be able to put you in touch with a group that is of interest to you, or suggest some other more personalised ways that you can make some new friends.
What other ways can you suggest for new residents to make friends? Or are you a new resident who has or has not made friends? We’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions in the comments below!