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Ballarat () is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. In 2020, Ballarat had a population of 109,553, making it the third-largest city in both Victoria and inland Australia.Within months of Victoria separating from the colony of New South Wales in 1851, gold was discovered near Ballarat, sparking the Victorian gold rush. Ballarat subsequently became a thriving boomtown that for a time rivalled Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, in terms of wealth and cultural influence. In 1854, following a period of civil disobedience in Ballarat over gold licenses, local miners launched an armed uprising against government forces. Known as the Eureka Rebellion, it led to the introduction of male suffrage in Australia, and as such is interpreted as the origin of Australian democracy. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at Ballarat's Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
Proclaimed a city in 1871, Ballarat's prosperity, unlike that of many other gold boom towns, continued until the late 19th century, as the city's fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades. By the turn of the century, Ballarat's importance relative to Melbourne rapidly faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre, and is the commercial capital and largest city of the Central Highlands, as well as a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history, culture and its well-preserved colonial-era heritage, with much of the city subject to heritage overlays.
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