Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

If you’re a schoolkid in Melbourne, chances are you’ll definitely visit Sovereign Hill.  I went there on a school excursion when I was about 8.  Now Arthur is 8 and DeeW is a very vocal 5 so this week we went on a day trip.  We’ve been learning about Australian history so this trip tied in nicely:


(my photos are different sizes because I started with my camera which then went flat so I had to use my phone.  And then I screwed up the scaling in my image editor).

Sovereign Hill is an open air museum that is set in the 1850s.  Gold was first discovered in the town of Ballarat in 1851 which then sparked the Ballarat Gold Rush.

Staff dress in period costumes:






Main Street is based on the real Main Street of Ballarat East during the 1850s, which was the settlement’s main street:






“we shall name him… Conan”:


(okay so that’s probably a joke not many will get, sorry…)

Arthur loves visitor maps.  He spotted the sweet shop and nagged us to make it the first stop:

…but we did the naggy parent bribery thing of good manners means you get to visit the sweet shop at the end.


Bowling!  Yeah, you remember this if you grew up in Melbourne:


We watched a lolly making demonstration.  Here you can see the raspberry lollies drying on the table.  The big blob of lolly goo was cranked through the mould thingy then placed on the drying table.  Then plain flour was scattered on top to assist in the drying process (which was quite short).  Then the lollies get smashed up like glass and separate in to their final shapes:


I like this sign above the fireplace.  I wonder if my children would pay attention to it if I bought one?  This room was the Mechanics Library (I think):

And this was the apothecary (I think) which also sold soaps and oils and that kind of stuff:


We visited the candle making shop.  Arthur and DeeW each bought a candle and dipped it in to coloured wax:



Some glassware on display in the candle shop:


What the cottages may have looked like (although one looked more well-to-do than the other):










I had packed my own snacks as I rightly assumed there would be no vegan options.  The staff at the New York Bakery were lovely and the waiter asked the chef what could be made vegan (the answer was a big salad and the risotto).  However I wasn’t hungry enough for them to go to the trouble of veganising their risotto so I just ordered a pot of tea with soy milk:



The most exciting part of Sovereign Hill for many children is the gold panning.  I have to admit, I had fun too although my job was mostly running after DeeW who decided she must run off and try every shovel she could see:



We actually found gold!  Real gold!  But you may be surprised to learn, as I was, that this real gold is a teeny tiny speck.  Not even as big as a small pin head.


And that was our trip.  Ballarat has so many beautiful old buildings but we didn’t have any time to wander around as it was getting late.  So we waved goodbye to Ballarat and promised the kids we’ll take them back to Sovereign Hill.


10 thoughts on “Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

  1. That looks like so much fun. I love your photos. They’re beautiful! What a setting. This is the kind of day trip I would like to make if it ever warms up around here. (I know it will. I’m just being a big suck.) I enjoyed seeing the kids (even just parts of them). 😉 I would have definitely used the sweet shop as a bribe too. I want to do the candle dipping and the gold mining! I want the Silence sign too, but I don’t think it would help with my kids either. 🙂


  2. Sovereign hill brings back so many memories but I have been there quite a few times as an adult as well as a child – it is good to see they have continued to develop the place – we must go there soon – though not in the school holidays – it will be mayhem (by the way my brother occasionally is one of the “actors” but I didn’t see him in any of your photos) Love your photos

  3. Great Blog! Loved the pics, the quality is great, especially if some are from your phone. Hope you come back to Sovereign Hill soon. And Joann, don’t worry about the cold. There’s always plenty of fires going in the chilly times.

  4. I love trips like this. I would have a blast visiting Sovereign Hill. Your photos are gorgeous too. When the veggie burgers are put on a tray what does that ,mean? Is it not touching the meat part of the grill?

    • I took it to mean the pattie sits on a little foil tray or something so it never touches the metal grill (where the meat has been). I’ll find out next time, I do miss those burgers!

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