Photo credit: Visit Victoria

It’s the middle of a balmy night in Ballarat and I’m stirred from sleep by the most unlikely of sounds outside my hotel window. Who is playing the violin? As my transition from REM to WTF crystallises, I realise what I’m hearing is not a string quartet sent to serenade the weary traveller at 3am but the mournful moan of brakes as a locomotive pulls up at Ballarat Station across the road. During a brief moment of lucidity I’m reminded that Victoria’s third largest city will always beat with the heart of a country town, and that includes trains passing in the night.

Perhaps the burst of creativity in my slumbering subconscious is simply a matter of osmosis. Ballarat was named a Unesco Creative City in 2019. The historic Union Bank building is getting a $6.7m upgrade to become the new National Centre for Photography, and later this year at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale the blockbuster exhibition will be Linda McCartney: Retrospective.

This from a city that used to be dubbed “Old, gold and cold”. But new Ballarat is clearly leading Victoria’s regional revival. The GovHub building under construction will bring to the city 1000 bureaucrats, soon to spill out into the abundance of new bars, restaurants and boutiques…

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