QUITE simply, miners used to rest at Miners Rest.
Unlike many nearby towns, gold was never discovered at Miners Rest but its origins are firmly fixed in the gold rush of the 1850s.
The halfway point between the gold diggings at Buninyong and Clunes, Miners Rest predates Ballarat as a European settlement and was once home to a bustling array of rooming houses, hotels and services frequented by miners who were shifting between the digging sites.
By the time long time resident Graeme Fraser was a schoolboy there in the 1940s, however, agriculture was the predominant industry and farmland was the only thing that could be seen from the then tiny township.
Mr Fraser said back then, trips into Ballarat occurred just once a week and he could never have envisaged the town as it is now, as an outer suburb filled with people who commute into the city for work daily.
“There were farms all around here before the houses came,” he said.
“In the early days there was no shop … I never envisaged this at all.”
In his lifetime Mr Fraser has seen Miners Rest’s gradual decline as a rural township and its rapid resurgence as an outer suburban centre.
“When they were going to put the supermarket there I didn't see how anyone would come but now they come from as far away as Maryborough,” he said.
Mr Fraser estimated about 80 to 90 per cent of the area’s population were young families and said he believed they were opting to move out there to combine the convenience of city living with the serenity of the country life.
“Where our farm is on the north side of Miners Rest, if we were to put a big plantation of trees on the farm they would be most upset because they couldn’t look out over the paddocks,” he said.
Miners Rest’s growth has also been strongly influenced by Ballarat’s racing industry, being home to Ballarat’s Dowling Forest Racecourse and many training stables.
For Mr Fraser, the population boom is something he still has a bit of trouble believing sometimes.
“I’m 75 and each year it’s a little bit different,” he said.
“When my father was alive he used to say, ‘I don’t know where it’s going to end’.
“Well, he wouldn’t be able to handle it now.”
Municipality: City of Ballarat
First settled: Early 1850s
Main industries: Horse racing, sheep and crop farming.
Claim to fame: Miners Rest is home to the well known horse-racing family the Paynes, as well as successful trainer Darren Weir.
Five fast facts
1. The name of the town is a simple one. It comes from when miners used to rest there when travelling between the diggings of Buninyong and Clunes.
2. As a European settlement, the Miners Rest township predates Ballarat.
3. In its early days, Miner Rest was home to a plethora of hotels and rooming houses, as well as seven blacksmith shops.
4. Miners Rest boomed as a residential area last decade, with population growth of 4.4 per cent per year in the first five years of the century.
5. In that same timeframe, the school age demographic grew by 8.5 per cent, indicating young families are choosing to settle in the area. However,
the demographic profile shows an even spread of population numbers across all age groups.
Five things to do
1. Go to the races. Miners Rest is home to Ballarat’s horse racing hub, Dowling Forest Racecourse. The biggest race meeting of the year, the Ballarat Cup is currently held on the last Sunday in November, though smaller meetings are held throughout the year.
2. Get close to nature. The Miners Rest Wetland walk offers native animal and bird life.
3. Support the local community. The Miners Rest and District Lions Club Community market is held at the primary school three or four times each year.
4. Enjoy a meal at the Miner Rest Tavern. The town’s pub gets good reviews for its country style food and warm atmosphere.
5. Go house hunting. New houses are popping up all the time in Miners Rest, where the average house price is $315,000.