Going ahead: Head koala keeper Cass Hancock, Lucy McNeil, Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor and Phillip Leitch at the Ballarat Wildlife Park for the launch of the Winter Fest. Photos: RUBY STALEY

Ballarat Winter Fest goes virtual

June 25, 2020 BY

THIS YEAR, Ballarat’s annual Winter Fest is going online.

Running from Saturday, 27 June to Sunday, 19 July, activities on offer include, exploring Ballarat in animation, playing games at major attractions and incentives for local businesses.

City of Ballarat mayor Cr Ben Taylor launched the initiative at the Wildlife Park last week alongside representatives from Ballarat’s major attractions.

The Yarrowees are a creation of husband and wife team Stuart and Megan Sullivan.

“The website is interactive, so people can get online, not just locals but all-around Australia, and understand about Winter in Ballarat,” he said.

“People can plan their trip, plan where they want to go and get more information about what’s happening in this city.”

Attractions, Sovereign Hill, Kryal Castle and the Wildlife Park will all feature on the Winter Fest interactive website.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, many are hoping the online initiative will boost tourism and revive businesses.

“While we’re not fully back to business, this is the start of transitioning back to what it was,” said Cr Taylor.

The Winter Fest website offers fun games for the kids as well as trivia, crossword puzzles and colouring pages.

The team behind the interactive platform are Ballarat creatives Made for Two Studio and Tech Studio who said they worked collaboratively on the project.

“We developed the initial concept and narrative and illustrated the characters and then Tech Studios developed the website,” said Megan Sullivan from Made for Two.

These characters are called The Yarrowees and are illustrated Winter Fest mascots, named Bunni, Kurran, Welcome Wally and Betul Begonia.

Each character has their own distinctive style that links to a landmark and will be there playing alongside you as you tour the Ballarat Winter Fest site.

“All of the characters have a strong connection to a specific place in Ballarat,” Mrs Sullivan said.

“The idea for the characters was to bring something really warm and comforting and to bring some colour back into winter.”

While there’s no physical Winter Fest events this year, including the always popular ice skating on Sturt Street, Cr Taylor said that a big part of the festival was getting people excited about coming back to Ballarat.

“It is a virtual Winter Fest but it will allow people come to Ballarat and experience it first-hand,” he said.