23 April 2010

Sovereign Hill Highlights - Red Coat Soldiers

Not much has be said or promoted about the soldiers at Sovereign Hill, except for their marching to a drum-beat and firing their guns, or more precisely, their muskets. No bullets, of course ...but the officer did ask me to move away from its line of fire. Man! When those guns goes off, my ears were ringing. Wish they warn us about it. Lots of noise and smoke, but it was an impressive show.

After the show, there were photo opportunities with the soldiers and they were favourites of the children, especially the girls; something about men in uniforms.

The British troops in such uniforms were deployed in aid of the Victorian Government, along with the police, against the gold miners at the Eureka Stockade, on the Ballarat goldfields, on 4 December 1854. The night show, "Blood on the Southern Cross" is the dramatic re-enactment of the story of the 1854 Eureka Uprising.

During the colonial period, the troops other functions include constructing fortifications, attending fires and executions and assisting the police in keeping the peace. They provided guards for wrecks, goldfields, colonial treasuries, quarantine stations, government houses and the opening and closing of legislatures and mounted escorts for gold in transit. Betwen 1854 and 1858, almost 80,000kg of gold was escorted out of Ballarat.

Soldiers Marching

Soldiers Firing Their Guns

21 April 2010

Sovereign Hill Highlights - GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!

Sitting among the fascinated audience, I listened to a blacksmith humourous explanation of the complex procedures needed to extract gold from crushed quartz rock.

In a crucible "cooking" at 1200 degrees Celsius, the gold slowly becomes molten. For safety reasons, he wore a thick protective apron, elbow length gloves, sturdy boots and goggles. Picking up the crucible with a long-handled pincer, he poured the molten gold liquid, a stream of thick golden honey, into a mould.

It solidified within a couple of minutes and out comes a gold bar. But just in case any of us considered a quick grab to the door, he ran a metal rod across the gold bar surface and flames shot upwards. It is hot stuffs. He immersed the gold bar in a trough of water, where it sizzles and steamed. When all the fuss is finished, he picked it up and held it up for us to admire.

Had the chance to hold it in my hand and it is a heavy piece of gold. At today's price, that single gold bar is worth a lot. I mean a lot.

Well, after that demostration I just had to go out there and try panning for some gold. Looks like I am not alone at this.

Gold! Gold! Gold! Found nothing but certainly caught the gold fever. Still, all is not lost. If you can't "catch" one, buy one .....to tell about as the one you found. You know what I mean.

Gold nuggets, gold jewellery and gold souvenir items can be purchased at a number of shops at Sovereign Hill. Try the Waterloo Store, Rees & Benjamin's jewellery shop and the Gold Smelting Works. The Sovereign Hill Gift Shop (located in the main car park) and the Entrance Shop also carry gold items. And there is also the Gold Museum Shop (opposite Sovereign Hill) for gold nuggets, fine gold jewellery and giftware.

Molten Golden Honey

Hot Gold Bar Cooling Process

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