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Prior to the European settlement of Australia, the Ballarat region was populated by the Wathaurong people, an Indigenous Australian people.The Boro gundidj tribe's territory was based along the Yarrowee River.

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Unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, which can be evidenced to this day in the city's rich architecture.

The city is famous in Australia for the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed rebellion in Australian history.

Outsiders originally knew of the settlement as Yuille's Station and Yuille's Swamp.

Archibald Yuille named the area "Ballaarat" Some claim the name is derived from a local Wathaurong Aboriginal word for the area, balla arat.

After a narrow popular vote the city merged with the town of Ballarat East in 1921, ending a long-standing rivalry.

Although significant deposits of gold have been mined in the area and mining continues to this day Ballarat is not part of Victoria's Goldfields region.

The first Europeans to sight the area were an 1837 party of six mostly Scottish squatters from Geelong, led by Somerville Learmonth, who were in search of land less affected by the severe drought for their sheep to graze.

The party scaled Mount Buninyong; among them were Somerville's brother Thomas Livingstone Learmonth, William Cross Yuille and Henry Anderson, all three of whom later claimed land in what is now Ballarat.

The Yuille family, Scottish settlers Archibald Buchanan Yuille and his brother William Cross Yuille, arrived in 1837 and squatted a 10,000-acre (4,000 ha) sheep run.

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