Meet a collection of the makers and creators who call Victoria's historic Goldfields home. Pop in and see these colourful locals in their element and check out their favourite things to do in and around Ballarat.

The makers and creators


  • Brian Taylor, owner of Aunty Jacks
  • Amanda Collins and Scott Denno, founders and beekeepers, Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat
  • Kristen Simpson and Tom Eadie, truffle farmers, Black Cat Truffles
  • Rebecca Matthews and Chris Pratt, founders and whisky distillers, Kilderkin Distillery

Brian at Aunty Jacks

The Aunty Jacks story

Brian Taylor is a Ballarat native with the sole goal of turning his hometown into the craft capital of Australia. With 25 years of hospitality experience, Aunty Jacks was birthed from the love of “creating great spaces for people to enjoy with family and friends.” The brewpub he created is just this, as Aunty Jacks embodies great entertainment, education and food, while also making exceptional brews. 


Brian's favourite things 

In Brian’s words, he loves to EAT and is at the bakery every day. Naturally, the owner of a brewpub knows the best places in town for a drink, and with so much to see and do outside, he’s a busy man when he’s not at Aunty Jacks. 

“I’m proud to continue Ballarat’s tradition of brewing. Our team are passionate and committed to providing the best meet the maker experience to everyone that walks into the brewery, and it always puts a smile on my face. What I enjoy most is meeting people and seeing them happy.”

- Brian Taylor, Aunty Jacks

Amanda and Scott at Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat

The Backyard Beekeeping story

Amanda Collins and Scott Denno like to joke that they’re accidental beekeepers because they got into the trade after they were gifted a honey hive. Their passion for beekeeping grew so strong, Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat was born. The duo produce seasonal regional honey varieties from the Central and Western Victoria region as well as neighbourhood honey from their Yarrowee River apiary in Golden Point. 


Amanda and Scott’s favourite things

Amanda and Scott are always busily running around town or out and about making deliveries on an e-bike (known colloquially as Eleanor). When they get some time off, their list of activities to partake in is endless!


  • Dining at Underbar where the chef often creates a panna cotta with Backyard Beekeeping’s messmate honey or indulging in a Espresso Martini or Bees Knees cocktail from Larrikin Gin.
  • Starting the day at the Ballarat Farmers Market for a raspberry croissant from the Ket Baker.
  • Taking in the sights and sounds on the Yarrowee River Trail in the heart of town, or breathing deeply and bathing in nature in the Woowookarung Regional Park
“Bees are one of the most industrious and selfless insects on the planet. Everything they do is for the health and prosperity of the next generation; thousands of bees in a colony and one single hivemind.”

- Amanda and Scott, Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat

Kristen and Tom at
Black Cat Truffles

The Black Cat Truffles story

Kristen Simpson and Tom Eadie made a ‘tree, tractor, truffle’ change in 2019, after they were priced out of the booming house market in Melbourne. While looking at properties further afield, they stumbled across the Black Cat Truffles property and business and it was love at first sight. A week later they’d purchased the property, and the duo have never looked back.


Kristen and Tom’s favourite things

Kristen and Tom spend every moment they can learning about their new local area, and have found plenty of gems worthy of exploration.


  • Discover Ballarat’s famous gold heritage – through conventional channels like Sovereign Hill, but also by foraging/panning for gold in the area, or exploring the surrounding historic villages.
  • Walk around St Georges Lake or Lake Wendouree and the Ballarat Botanic Gardens.
  • Drive around the Wattle Flat area and admire the undulating vistas dotted with extinct volcanoes or visit Creswick State Forest, which has a number of dog-friendly trails.
"When I stumbled across the Black Cat Truffles property, almost in jest, I said to Tom ‘how does running a truffle farm in Central Victoria sound?’ He thought about it for a minute and said ‘let’s do it.’”

- Kristen Simpson, Black Cat Truffles

Rebecca and Chris at Kilderkin Distillery

The Kilderkin Distillery story

Rebecca Mathews and Chris Pratt have always loved distilling. After years of appreciating islay peaty malts and Scottish whiskies, the duo decided to open their own distillery, which specialises in Larrikin Gin. In 2016, Kilderkin Distillery opened its doors in regional Victoria. The business has thrived thanks to support from the local community, strong tourism in the area and Ballarat’s burgeoning food and drinks scene. 


Rebecca and Chris’s favourite things

Rebecca and Chris take every opportunity to discover new food and drink options and great activities around Ballarat. 


  • Dine in style at Restaurant Lola in the Provincial Hotel or get cultural at Meigas, Pancho or Indian Grill, or for a pub meal, try the salmon at Grapes Hotel. 
  • For a beer or cocktail, hit up Renard, Roy Hammond, Ellington’s, Comfort of Strangers and 18th Amendment. A visit to Campanas for a collection of beers and spirits is also a must. 
  • Enjoy Ballarat’s cultural side, with an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ballarat or visit the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.
“Creating fine spirits provides us with the ideal opportunity to combine inquiring minds with a sense of exploration, especially for our Australian Larrikin Gins that draw upon the vast variety of indigenous plants and fruits. We are proud to be part of Ballarat and feel a strong sense of support from all community sectors.”

- Rebecca and Chris, Kilderkin Distillery