Ballarat East, is a suburb of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. Ballarat East covers a large area east (and also north) of the CBD.
It is the oldest area in Ballarat and was once also a municipality known as the Ballarat East Town Council between 1859 and 1921. The population of Ballarat East at the 2006 census was 4,995 making it the fifth most populated in the Ballarat urban area.
The discovery of the Ballarat goldfield in 1851 led to heavy immigration. In 1854, in their resistance of an arbitrary tax, gold miners in the area came into armed conflict with the authorities. A commission was appointed to investigate their grievances and a charter was granted to the town in 1855. Ballarat East Post Office opened on 1 December 1857 and was replaced by the Bakery Hill office in 1992.
The Ballarat East goldfield, which consisted of three distinct areas known as Ballarat East, Ballarat West and Nerrina, produced over 1.9 million ounces of gold from vein systems and over 16 million ounces from adjacent alluvial deposits.
At the turn of the twentieth century, these alluvial goldfields were the richest ever opened. As these surface deposits were exhausted, the quartz reefs at deep levels were exploited and several mines worked at depths exceeding 600 metres.
Main Street developed into the principal commercial area in the Ballarat district. Its mostly tents and timber buildings were destroyed by a series of fires during the 1860s and the commercial area shifted to the planned area of Ballarat West, specifically Sturt and Lydiard Streets.
Municipal status, Town Hall and Civic Centre
Ballarat East Town Hall (now demolished) in 1862
Ballarat East was one of the first areas of Ballarat to gain municipal status. In 1859 the newly formed Ballarat East Town Council acquisioned land in what was to become the Barkly Street civic area and in 1861 Dec 26 the foundation stone was laid for the Ballarat East Town Hall which was built in a Renaissance Revival architecture style and set in formal gardens.
It was completed the following year along with the Ballarat East Free Library next door and the Ballarat fire station, a new headquarters for the fire brigade formed in 1856) was erected a few years later in 1864.
Ballarat East had its own railway station in the 1860s (only the goods sheds remain), built shortly after Ballarat West’s station. It became an important junction for branch lines before being closed in the 1960s and its platforms demolished.
The East Ballarat Town Council was amalgamated with Ballarat West Town Council in 1920-1921 to become the City of Ballarat. After this time there was indecision as to how to use the old hall.
In 1927 the Ballarat Teachers College moved there however during the great depression the town hall was mostly unused and was finally demolished in 1936 after years of speculation of its use as a girls school or headquarters for the Ballarat Historical Society.
The gates to the Town Hall’s once extensive gardens remain.