A career in hospitality wasn’t in Hop Temple manager Zac Hill’s sights until he came to Ballarat.
Hill made the move to Ballarat in 2011 to study nursing and paramedicine at ACU, but decided to work full-time in hospitality instead before finishing the course.
At 23, Hill and a friend began their first hospitality business venture and opened a late-night bar in Ballarat.
“That sort of held me here,” he said.
Ballarat was a cultural change from Hill’s home in San Remo, a small beach town in Gippsland.
“My perception of Ballarat was that it was always a proud, rich heritage town,” he said.
Since arriving in 2011, Hill said he had seen the hospitality industry in Ballarat evolve and grow.
“I think that has definitely developed in the time I have been here. It was definitely developing before I had come here, but I’d say in the last six years it has really stepped up quite a lot,” he said.
“We have a really good cafe and restaurant culture and a really good total dining experience here.”
Hill added to Ballarat’s growing craft beer culture when he opened the Hop Temple with two business partners in 2015.
“Craft beer as a whole is growing but I think it is evolving with the culture of the town,” he said.
“Ballarat is going to a food and drink and more experience based culture and less of the culture of just going down to the pub and having 10 pots of beer.
“It is more about the experience, the taste, the flavours and it is a lot more focused towards enjoying a good product in smaller quantities and not so much enjoying large quantities of the same product.”
As a 26-year-old who followed an idea and turned it into a business reality, Hill said Ballarat had great potential and opportunities for innovative business ventures.
“There is a lot of potential and a lot of people trying to tap into different potentials that they want to explore. The town embraces most ideas very well,” he said.
“Everyone is trying to achieve the same goal, which is to promote the town and to make Ballarat a better place, so it is easy when you have got more like minded people around you.”
For now, Hill plans to work on Hop Temple and remain involved in craft beer. He said he expects the craft beer culture in Ballarat to continue to grow.
“Craft beer will grow especially in a regional town like Ballarat with paddock to plate ideas and people wanting to know where their produce is coming from,” he said.
“We see it through here (Hop Temple), even on the weekends when we have a lot of people from out of town come in and they want to drink what is being produced here in Ballarat.
“I think we might see it go to more smaller focus where breweries will focus on their little areas again. There is still going to be bigger distribution and people will still be drinking the same product across a lot of places but I can see the movement going towards having more focal selling of beers, so the Ballarat region will sell Ballarat regional beer.
“It is a bit of a pride thing too.”
For more information on Committee for Ballarat’s More than Gold campaign search @morethangold.ballaratstories on social media.