Lake Wendouree is a prominent feature in the town of Ballarat, a “major social destination for the last 150 years” as the city’s website puts it. It is a man-made, shallow lake close to Ballarat’s city centre. Popular with rowers, canoeists, and sailors on the water; walkers, runners, dog-walkers, cyclists and families alongside it.
I am visiting Ballarat for their first annual Open House weekend. Saturday was cultural, oohing and aahing outside and inside historical goldrush era buildings and more. Sunday, well, time to move the legs and stroll around Lake Wendouree. Here is the map:
An out-of-town visitor without a car can go by train to Ballarat Railway Station and walk to Lake Wendouree from there. With several available options for reaching the lake, I chose to walk west for 2km along Mair Street. The map is included for reference below.
Reaching the western end of Mair St, crossing Wendouree Parade and you see this. One way…
…and the other.
I walked clockwise around Lake Wendouree today but either direction works.
You may wonder about the lake’s name… Wendouree apparently originates from a local aboriginal word “wendaaree“, meaning “go away”. Legend has it that a settler asked a local indigenous woman about the then swamp’s name. Her reply was… well, you guessed it.
The Steve Moneghetti Track circling Lake Wendouree takes its name from a local sporting hero. Steve Moneghetti was a long-distance and marathon runner who achieved significant success in both the World and Commonwealth championships. He also participated in 4 different Olympic games.
Plenty of birdlife around Lake Wendouree, including black swans. Being late spring, they have had their little ones. Most swans seemed unafraid of all the passers-by. Must feel safe there but you do wonder about dogs…
Birdlife, yes. I think that I scared this bunch as I approached them on the path.
Along Lake Wendouree’s south-western shore, there is an Olympic precinct. The building below is a “Rowing Judges Box”. There are lanes in the water across the lake immediately to the right. Presumably for rowing and canoeing competitions, but definitely not for swimming which is not allowed anywhere in the lake.
The track surroundings varied. Here, a canopy of green encloses you. Dramatic and beautiful.
Occasionally, there are parallel tracks. One surfaced track predominantly supporting cyclists and walkers in a hurry. Another compact gravel track along the shore for slow-paced users. People just taking their time. As I did today.
Across the bridge below, you get to Windmill Drive Island. Another bridge, later on, brings you back onshore.
The map refers to the below “island” as “native reed beds”. Plenty of birdlife visible, likely seeking relative safety.
A place like Lake Wendouree attracts bird watchers as well. Onshore across from those reed beds seemed like an obvious viewpoint.
There are occasional food and drink refreshment facilities along the foreshore. The imposing building below, Lake Pavillion, was open for business and appeared popular.
A tram line runs along Lake Wendouree’s western shore. Not far-reaching, more like a fun thing for kids to ride. No tram in sight today. Perhaps later as time was still early.
I would normally not include pictures of those other “facilities” in blog posts. However, close to Lake Pavillion and across the street are super modern public conveniences. Clean, airy and bright. Even the buildings are attractive.
Moving right along…
Maps and overviews of what they call the “Lake & Gardens Precinct” are plentiful along the Steve Moneghetti Track.
Boat sheds and rowing clubhouses dot Lake Wendouree’s foreshore. Below are Ballarat Grammer Boat Shed to the left and Ballarat High School Boat Shed to the right. Between them, out of view, is a public boat ramp. I saw some rowers out on the lake today.
And these small huts/ sheds. Nor the maps nor any signs disclosed their purpose. Whether they are private or communal. Looked good though…
Another location shot along Lake Wendouree’s northern shore. You could constantly stop for more pictures. It was really that beautiful.
In addition to the maps, distance signs appeared regularly every 500 meters. Confirming that we were indeed walking the Steve Moneghetti Track.
You may remember that “Rowing Judges Box” earlier… Well, the photo below is taken across the water from there and the “box” is visible in the distance.
The vehicle below moved around and stirred up the water adjacent to those lanes. For what purpose, I don’t know. Improving water health and stirring up food for the fish?
More boat and rowing sheds closer to the south shore in what’s called Yacht Club Precinct. Not quite there yet, as the sheds were across the water and ahead of me.
An “interesting” memorial appeared… The Rustic Fountain was constructed in 1879 to commemorate the location of Ballarat’s first water supply. Long decommissioned. Nowadays Wendouree Lake receives supplementary water from various supply mains. I read about a recently implemented stormwater harvesting project, which refills the lake after heavy rain.
Soon, I completed the Lake Wendouree circuit and then crossed Wendouree Parade to walk back to Ballarat City Centre. A final photo of a sign warning drivers for birdlife straying onto the road. Plenty of these signs around the lake.
I walked back to Ballarat City Centre along the main thoroughfare Sturt Street. You may like to walk it either from or back to Ballarat Railway Station if you arrive by train. Numerous beautiful and interesting buildings face Sturt Street.
Today marked the first time ever I walked around the complete Lake Wendouree circuit. A lovely destination.
May I suggest to any first time visitor to go slow. There is plenty to see and distract you, and you would regret rushing through.
Next time I will probably bring my bike and cycle around it…