Let me start this story by telling you that I live in Ballarat East!
So…a few weeks ago, I ventured over to Aldi in Sebas to do some shopping, on my way to DTC to do MORE shopping at Kmart, Woolies and the Butcher Club (this is important in establishing why I would be doing my groceries in Sebas rather than at my closer stores in town – because everything is conveniently located under one roof for me).
Anyway, as I walked in the door I glanced at an older man who I thought, hmmm he looks a bit like my old neighbour. So in I went, grabbed a couple of items, and by the end of aisle 1 I realised I definitely needed to go back out and get a trolley! So I went back, got a trolley and came back in, and almost crashed my trolley into the same man. To my shock and amazement, it actually WAS my old neighbour! WTF!
This may not be a big deal to us Ballarat folks, but this was my neighbour from before I even lived in Ballarat, when I was about 5 years old, on the other side of Melbourne in Cranbourne! CRANBOURNE! A million light years away from Ballarat! The only thing that is similar about the two places is that they have a B and an A in their names.
My parents made the best decision of their lives when they packed up everything they knew and shipped us up to Ballarat (when I was 11). I hated them for about a good 6 months, but once I met a few cute boys I was sold on the idea, and ended up marrying one of those boys.
Soooo, moving right along! It turned out that my long lost next door neighbour from the 80s and early 90s had made the big tree change, FINALLY. They sold their Melbourne house and moved to a property on the outskirts of town and will no doubt retire here and never look back!
And good on them I say!
But we have a problem! The Melbournites are working out our secret. The secret we’ve known for years, and have been working on as locals for decades. That Ballarat is WAY better than Melbourne in so many ways. And they are moving in on us!
Our foodie scene is absolutely exploding, and they are starting to get a whiff of what’s available up here. Not to mention the fact that just about every single weekend of the year there is some kind of big event on. And then there are the obvious things that we love about Ballarat like the lesser traffic, the shorter travel distances and easier access to big facilities and venues. Like me, for instance, driving from Ballarat East all the way over to Sebas and Delacombe to do my big weekend shopping. It’s a big deal to us here in Ballarat, but for a suburban Melbourne family, it’s nothing to drive 20 minutes to a good shopping centre, even more! And if we think we have trouble parking close to our shops, let me remind you of what it was like the day I went to Doncaster Highpoint a few weeks before Christmas while I was working in the IT world. I literally COULD NOT get a park, and spent my entire lunch hour driving around the car park just trying to get OUT!
So I don’t know about you, but with our affordable house prices, access to amazing schools within 20 minutes drive of basically anywhere, and the incredible culture and entertainment that is available here, I would absolutely put my hand on my heart and say Ballarat is better!
If you lived in a regular suburban retreat on the outskirts of Melbourne, would you rather bore your kids to tears in the back seat to muscle your way through the traffic to go into the city? Or would you rather get out on the open road, head to Ballarat and enjoy yourself walking around and experiencing equally as awesome stuff, on a smaller, more manageable scale?
Did you know? That the Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest and largest regional gallery in Australia? With some of the best collections you’ll ever see? And it’s FREE to get in. Right there in Lydiard St. You drive past it every day!
You only need to look at the ridiculous record crowds that attended events like Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill and White Night Ballarat to realise that we are well and truly on the map!
This weekend I actually wanted to take my almost 3 year old for a train ride, but I couldn’t think of a single place that was accessible by train / tram in Melbourne that I wanted to really take him to once we got there, so we decided to just go hang out at the Ballarat Railway Station and watch some trains come in and out, and talk about all things trains with him. Rather than waste a day trying to find something obscure to do just for the sake of doing it. No need to leave home, we have so much here that we take for granted and forget that it is actually really special!
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree? Or think I am a complete lunatic and should get out more? I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Three Cheers for Ballarat!
If you are new to Ballarat, or know someone who is thinking of moving here. Send them this link to check out our “Moving to Ballarat” Blog series!