30 March 2010

Sovereign Hill Highlights - The Township

Sovereign Hill, is an outdoor museum, a tourist attraction that I finally, after 20+ years in Australia, came to visit.  Its quite an interesting place to spend the day.  It allows us to literally step back in time, to view and experience Australia's exciting goldrush days.

Sovereign Hill, is set on a former goldmining site. It recreates the first ten years of Ballarat after the discovery of gold in 1851 when thousands of fortune-hunters rushed to the Australian goldfields in search of riches.  They come from all over the world, including China.

It is an award winning outdoor museum that recreates in fascinating detail, the hustle and bustle of life in the 1850s of a typical gold mining town. There are much to see and do here.

web-site: http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/

There are working shops, hotels, schools, a theatre, crafts, a wheelwright, a candlemaker, a confectioner and steam-driven machinery. You can see how gold is smelted into a gold ingot, venture underground on a fully-guided gold mine tour or catch a horse-drawn coach and tour the Township.

The shops along the Main Street are based on those known to have existed during the 1850s. Most are open for business, selling the types of goods that were required on the goldfields .....such as pots and pans, shovels, picks.

There is even a shop that sells lollies for those who have a sweet tooth. Today, you can watch Sovereign Hill's famous boiled lollies being made right before your eyes. The lollies are made and sold at Charles Spencer's Confectionery Shop in Main Street and at the Sovereign Hill Gift Shop.

You will also find on the Main Street costumed ladies and gents who are happy to entertain with the latest gossip or a tale of life in the township. They are also happy to pose with you for a photo .....or what they call a "pictorial image of thyself".

Many of the costumed staff are volunteers, who comes in for a day or two, to act out some of the behaviours and prejudices of the 1850s. There is also a section of the township, devoted to the early Chinese fortune-hunters, many of whom choose to stay on and settle in or around Ballarat.

There is also the excitement of the Red Hill Gully Diggings where you can pan for "REAL GOLD".

Yes, there are many who seek their fortune here, even today, but very few if any, actually finds it.

One can only hope that one is one of the exceptionally few. Do I have to repeat that?

To pass the time in the township, there is always the theatre, the hotel and the pub. There is also the bowling alley, with a cold beer in your hand while waiting your turn at the bowling ball.

Right photo shows a lady in costume working at the candle factory. There are no electricity at the time, at least, I do not think so. It is also a popular create your own candle sticks tourists spot. You pay for the privileage.

At night, it is said that Sovereign Hill presents a spectacular, multi-million dollar sound and light show, called the "Blood on the Southern Cross". It is the dramatic re-enament of the story of the 1854 Eureka Uprising. Sadly, we could not stay to see that show. Oh well, maybe next time.

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