Wendouree is a suburb in the Ballarat urban area, 4 km north-west of the city centre.

It is best known for Lake Wendouree, around which are the Botanic Gardens and Wendouree Parade. The suburb of Wendouree is separated from the lake by a railway line and a main road.

The lake was originally known as Yuille's Swamp, forming part of William Yuille's Ballarat pastoral run (1838). Yuille's Swamp was used to supply water to Ballarat (1852) until better reservoirs were built in the 1860s. Until then the lake was alternately a water storage or dust hollow, depending on rainfall and the amount drawn off. During the 1870s improvements were made to the lake as an aquatic venue, and the City and Wendouree rowing clubs raced there. It appears that the name Wendouree was given at about the time of the improvements. The name apparently is derived from an Aboriginal expression.

Wendouree was an outlying agricultural community when a Wesleyan school was opened in 1857. It remained much the same for nearly 100 years, with urban development being confined to the perimeter of the lake. In 1951 a migrant hostel was opened at Wendouree, and land at Wendouree West was acquired for a Housing Commission estate. The estate was on part of a common originally of about 24 sq km when reserved in 1861. Although about three quarters of the common had been used for other purposes by the time of the housing estate, there was ample left for industrial and other development. The common also included an airfield, dating from 1940 when the RAAF set up the No 1 Wireless Airgunners School. Among the industries established on the Wendouree common were Franklins Caravans (1951), a stoneware and pipe factory, M.B. John and Hattersley and Unilever. Later a McCains food processing factory was opened. The new Wendouree was in Ballarat shire's area, and the council moved its offices from Learmonth to the corner of Sunraysia Highway and Gillies Street, Wendouree West in 1964. Between 1947 and 1971 the shire's populations grew by 10,000 to 14,394. Over 10,000 were in Wendouree and Wendouree West. Lake Wendouree was used for the 1956 Olympic Games rowing and canoeing events, and an athletes' village was built at Wendouree West.

Wendouree has lost some of its industries. An enclosed free-standing shopping centre was opened in 1977, and by 1997 it had a discount department store, two supermarkets and 76 other shops. There are several public reserves, including the Ballarat showground, a netball complex, a swimming pool and an indoor tennis centre, and a performing arts centre. The Ballarat and Queens Grammar School is in the middle of Wendouree, and the secondary college is at the northern fringe, bordered by the Western Freeway.

A proposal by Stockland Wendouree to expand its shopping centre with a public plaza and forecourt and relocated Wendouree Library was announced in 2012 but development stalled.

Wendouree's census populations have been:

census date population
1891 125
1921 598
1947 1361
2001 11,071
2006 10,752
2011 10,596

The populations for 2001 onwards include most of Wendouree West which ceased to be a separate suburb.

Further Reading

Weston Bate, Life after gold: twentieth-century Ballarat, Melbourne University Press, 1993

Shire of Ballarat 1863-1963, the shire, 1963

Lake Gardens, Lake Wendouree and Wendouree West entries