Eureka, here’s the Ballarat Community Market. These are the sort of nuggets you typically come across whilst cruising the back lanes of regional towns. Treadlie visited Ballarat and Buninyong in mid December to scope the attractions offered for visitors during the Road Nats from 4-8 January 2017.
We chose to bring city commuters including a Reid cruiser on trial that proved ideal for rolling around Lake Wendouree and Ballarat township. Saturday’s Farmers’ Market serving a variety of local produce was a contrast to the activity and signage of the Iron Man race hub further around the lake. Just beyond large wetlands provide sanctuary for teeming birdlife and small groups angling on quiet points.
Riding back through the historic centre you would not expect to enter the world of Rennie Ellis and Australia’s decadent and flamboyant scene from the 1970s to the 1990s. The exhibition is at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until 29 January and is a tribute to Ellis’s unique paparazzi style and a precursor to the current social media genre. Our favourite cafe in town would have to be the Kittelty’s At The Gallery with its leather couches and range of art books and magazines.
There’s plenty of restaurants, bars, good pub food and live music in Ballarat throughout January. We treated ourselves to the chef’s banquet at Catfish. This vibrant one hatted restaurant delivered a sumptuous range of Thai tastes accompanied by fine local wines.
The Road Nats course through the foothills of Mt Buninyong is a 10 km circuit of beautiful road riding. You can enter the Road Nationals Gran Fondo to ride the same course as the pros on Saturday 7 January. At the peak beyond the course, the 360 degree views across the Midlands and south to the Golden Plains is spectacular.
Buninyong has a great community market throughout the year and for those in the know there are some awesome MTB tracks through the nearby bush. Heading out of town towards Geelong we were fortunate to come across the Mt Buninyong Winery in a classic tucked away rambling shed in the scrub. Sumptuous country fare is on the menu for lunch but you do need to book. So The Treadlie tip is go forth and relish one of Australia’s iconic road events but do take time to ride off the beaten track. Who knows what you may discover.