Disclaimer: If you’re not into still images and art galleries, this post may bore you. 😀
Courtesy of Study Melbourne, I made a virgin trip to the old town of Ballarat yesterday to claim my prize for the ‘How Far We’ve Come‘ photography competition I had entered last month.
I was lucky enough to have been selected as a finalist, which earned my photo a spot at one of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale exhibitions held in the vicinity until September 22nd.
This was the first time Study Melbourne has taken part in the exhibition (which I previously haven’t heard of) to engage the public with the international student experience.
There were other firsts for me too. Apart from it being my first time in Ballarat and having my very amateur work being showcased, I was surprised to find postcards of my winning photo available. I didn’t think they would have the pictures printed out as postcards and thought that was pretty cool. I made sure to take at least half the stack to give it away to my family and friends as souvenirs. 😛
After our little prize giving ceremony, we were taken around to see other Foto Biennale exhibitions and art galleries. I’m not the artsy kind, so art exhibitions can be a little too dry for me. But hey, I didn’t head down all the way to Ballarat for nothing. So I thought it was a pretty nice opportunity to explore the town, considering it may be my only ever chance to set foot on one of Victoria’s historically rich grounds (you can read more about it here).
We went to the Mining Exchange to see some photo galleries. Honestly, I’m not the type to read descriptions unless I’m really curious about the background story. But what attracted me the most were the price tags on some of the photographs on the wall, ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands worth. My personal favourites are the ones you’ll see in the second and third shots in the following gallery. Unfortunately, like I said, I missed out on the details of the work so I can’t tell you what they were. *Shakes head*
Next, we stepped into this beautiful golden building called The Art Gallery. There were two-levels worth of art work to see, from paintings to sculptures, to abstract photographs…and you guessed it. I walked through most of it without paying much attention to the intricate displays – although one of the art works caught my attention because for one, it wasn’t an artistic oil painting on a canvas but a moving image of a man walking home with groceries in the dark. Aha! This was the only one I read about in the whole gallery because I thought it was cool and interesting.
After an intense hour absorbing the different kinds of art, my new friend, Shu Min and I decided to take a stroll around the near-empty town to admire the architecture of the well-preserved, rustic old buildings in the area while on a hunt for a good place for lunch.
Being unfamiliar with the town, our feet amazingly took us to places which reminded us of Melbourne’s CBD. We came across The Regent Multiplex, very similar to the city’s Regent Theatre, only this one’s an actual cinema and not a theatre. We could only wonder if the interior is as antique as it looks from outside.
We walked even further down the streets, passing by Ballarat’s Town Hall, which again made us compare its similarities to the Town Hall in the city, only a little smaller. Their Central Square, on the other hand, was similar to Bourke Street Mall, with Myer and Target right around the corner. Before our little exploration, I thought we’d stepped into a whole other country but after coming across familiar sites, I slowly found myself back in Melbourne again.
Just when we thought we were in a middle of a ghost town, with barely any crowd on the streets and closed shops on a Tuesday (why?)…our explorer instincts brought us to a plaza, where we find rows of familiar boutiques. ‘Well this is new‘, we thought.
While it is a pretty quiet town, this heritage site seems to have a lot of hidden surprises if you look closer and deeper. With every turn, you’ll see archaic buildings with long-running histories, quaint cafés with unique themes (there were quite a few retro themed cafés), quirky artworks along alley ways, or even names engraved on the bricks of the pavement you walk on…
It was pretty interesting to see stark contrasts between the CBD and a more regional area. Not to mention that therapeutic 90-minute train ride which cuts through the rural terrains and grasslands, wide empty spaces you don’t normally witness in the city with horses and sheep running around.
If you ask me, I’m not sure if it’s worth making down to Ballarat for a tourist, but if you’d like to have a peaceful time you might want to pay a visit. Activities aren’t many, but there’s Sovereign Hill, the place where the Running Man crew went to when they came to Melbourne where you can experience life in the 1800s and dig up gold. I gave it a miss because it’s too pricey for just a day’s worth of activity. But I think it’s something families with kids may enjoy. Otherwise, there’s plenty of other breath-taking places in Victoria to take a road trip to anyway!
This post was originally published on my old blog, www.theopenscrapbook.wordpress.com.