The history of Ballarat, situated at the heart of the goldfields of central Victoria, Australia, is closely tied to the colonial experience. As the site of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, its history is linked to the foundation myths of Australian democracy. It boasts both the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E), situated on one of the suspected sites of the rebels' stockade, and Australia's premier open air museum, the theme park of Sovereign Hill, which re-enacts life on the goldfields of the 1950s and 1860s. In Ballarat itself many of the businesses utilise symbols of the goldfields in their advertising and trademarks, as do many of the street names, festivals and public events. The Victorian architectural heritage is highly prized and showcased to the thousands of visiting tourists on Sturt and Lydiard Streets, and particularly those who come each year for Ballarat's Heritage Weekend festival held in May. Yet there is a dark side to this history. The prosperity of the gold was built on the land of the Wathawurrung Aborigines who were displaced and marginalised, and suffered under the weight of colonial occupation and environmental devastation. Likewise, despite the prominence of stories surrounding those who became wealty on the goldfields of central Victoria, many who came to Ballarat during the Victorian era found themselves displaced and living in extremen poverty, facing disease, hunger and vulnerability to crime, prostitution and dangerous working conditions. It is these stories from the underbelly of Ballarat's heritage that form the fodder of a thriving dark tourist industry, expressed in popular ghost tours and supplemented by a rich heritage of ghost stories in folklore and popular culture. In the tension between these two discordant narratives Ballarat has become, in popular imagination, a haunted city.
Public space is being increasingly managed by defensive architecture, surveillance and other subtle filtering mechanisms to make it more palatable and attendant to the needs of capital. This reinforces social boundaries, making space inhospitable to those people whose presence is not welcome, and serves to ‘discipline’ city inhabitants into primarily consumption based modes of interacting with and in the city. However, disenfranchised urban populations still find ways to exist in and navigate these spaces. The purpose of this article is to highlight these ways by introducing the concept of ‘desire lines’ as a means of overcoming or re-imagining defensive space. We use Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of desire as productive force, combined with De Certeau’s notion of ‘walking the city’, to explore how individuals and social movements might practically, and in a metaphorical sense, create new collective paths, creating ‘desire lines’ of resistance and change within what is often an increasingly unforgiving and dominated urban environment, created by and for capital at the expense of a vibrant public realm.