Goldfields city, Ballarat, has announced a new major event designed to bring high yield tourists in late summer.

BY GRAEME KEMLO

Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival from February 15-17 will not only fill the city with the 1950s blend of blues, gospel and country, the place will be awash with hot rods, illustration artists, fifties fashion, stalls with clothing, music magazines and paraphernalia from the fifties. There will be dancing in the streets and even a burlesque show.
John Fitzgibbon, a member of the Ballarat Regional Tourism Board, said the event was designed to take place after the summer event season and before the release of autumn/winter campaigns. He says Rockabilly culture is “incredibly cool and a huge growth market” and the city expects an influx of 10,000 for the event.
Then, with a tip of the hat to Melbourne’s famous, even infamous, lanes and alleys, Ballarat is to adopt a CBD concept and open its own Lane.
The Lane is due to open shortly next to the 1854 George Hotel and will link two main streets in the city and allow for an extension of the Ballarat heritage walking trail. In traditional Melbourne style the Lane will be lined with outdoor seating for seven day a week alfresco dining.
Delegates will also benefit from the eclectic space for food and dining – cider bar, entertainment, refined restaurant dining, casual deli, coffee and cake and a wood fired pizza – right next to the George, which also offers meeting and conference facilities. The hotel’s Herring Room caters for 60 to 150 guests in traditional meeting room style with a marble bar and adjoining balcony.
The George Hotel has recently undergone a multi-million dollar transformation that will see it become a new entertainment hub in the centre of Ballarat’s art and historical precinct. Areas completed include the Herring Room and The Lounge, balconies, the Howe boardroom, accommodation and the Heritage Bar and Restaurant.
Accor is offering meeting planners who book a residential conference in the Ballarat region the chance to win one million additional LeClub points. Both local properties – Mercure Ballarat Hotel & Cinvention Centre and the Novotel Forest Resort Creswick – are participating in the promotion which runs through to December 31, 2012.
University of Ballarat Technology Park (UBTP) has made its superb conference and meeting facilities available for meeting planners, not just the 30 organisations and 1400 employees who work at the specialist information technology and communications hub.
Featuring state-of-the-art infrastructure, UBTP has a range of spaces available including TransACT Conference Centre, a naturally lit fully equipped conference room for 100 (theatre), and up to 60 (classroom). The Global Boardroom seats 10, while the Greenhill Meeting Room seats 12, and onsite catering is available.
The state government earlier this year announced a $155 million expansion of UBTP, a move expected to create up to 1600 jobs.
The Ballarat economy was reportedly boosted with its hosting in August of a five-nation Under 21 netball tournament over 10 days at the Wendouree Sports and Events Centre. A coup for Ballarat Regional Tourism, five of the top six netball nations, Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Samoa took part. Apart from the competition a number of the teams ran community camps and workshops for the local community.
After hosting netball the Wendouree Sports and Event Centre recently staged a food and wine fair.
The Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts opened in 2006 and has a major auditorium suitable for plenary sessions for up to 857. Every seat has a perfect view of the massive 170 square metre stage – big enough to fit a symphony orchestra.

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