A Travellerspoint blog

Ballarat and Sovereign Hill

It was like time travel back to 1850

23 °C
View Our big lap of Australia on ChrisHenriette's travel map.

Ballarat (population 93 501)

Ballarat is arguably the most significant Victorian era gold rush boomtown in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from the state of New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered on 18 August 1851. Within months, migrants from across the world had rushed to the district in search of gold. The population went from hundreds to 40 000 within a few years. But, unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, with 9 of the ten biggest gold nuggets ever found, coming from this area. This prolonged prosperity can be evidenced to this day in the city's rich architecture.

We enjoyed the buildings you recognise in Lydiard street where several scenes from the Australian TV series, Dr Blake was/is filmed. We even watched the current Oscar favourite, Lalaland, in the old Regent Theatre.

The Eureka Rebellion began in Ballarat, and the only armed rebellion in Australian history, the Battle of Eureka Stockade, took place on 3 December 1854. Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia. Today it is still a major regional centre (even hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics).

A significant heritage tourism industry has grown in Ballarat since the 1960s. Ballarat is most notable for the award-winning open-air museum known as Sovereign Hill, a recreated 1850-1860 gold mining settlement opened in 1970. Sovereign Hill is Ballarat's biggest tourism drawcard and is consistently rated among one of the best outdoor museums in the world and continues to expand. We think it was the best of the attractions we’ve visited so far (spending two full days walking the streets and exploring every building – second day is free). Sovereign Hill accounts for over half a million of Ballarat's visitors and $40 million in tourism revenue. The town is filled with staff (all in period costumes) re-enacting scenes, operating the bakery, foundry, candle-making and much more. We went underground into an old mine, attended the theatre (including presentations on gender etiquette!), sweet making, wheelwrighting, red coat shooting, a china town, and more.

After this we were off to Lake Bolac to a free camp next to a beautiful (full) lake. We opted for a quiet Australia Day, BBQing a nice rump steak and relaxing under the trees.

Sovereign Hill shop

Sovereign Hill shop

Sovereign Hill more main street

Sovereign Hill more main street

Sovereign Hill main street

Sovereign Hill main street

Sovereign Hill inside the theatre

Sovereign Hill inside the theatre

Sovereign Hill horses

Sovereign Hill horses

Red coats down main street before shooting demo

Red coats down main street before shooting demo

Panning for gold

Panning for gold

Mine with tour from 1860

Mine with tour from 1860

Main Street in Ballarat where some Dr Blake episodes were filmed

Main Street in Ballarat where some Dr Blake episodes were filmed

Inside working foundry

Inside working foundry

Early mining hut inside

Early mining hut inside

Coffin making and hearse

Coffin making and hearse

Brilliant candle making demo

Brilliant candle making demo

Biggest nugget ever found

Biggest nugget ever found

Ararat old hospital

Ararat old hospital

All the staff are in costume

All the staff are in costume

Posted by ChrisHenriette 23:16 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Sovereign Hill looks fascinating - so full of Australian history. Thinking of sending my viking to Mr and Mrs Crosby's school!!! Keep those wonderful photos coming.

by Judy Beicher

Wow! That is one big gold nugget!! Imagine finding that! How amazing! Sovereign Hill looks like such an interesting town. I'll definitely add it to my "must see" list.

by Suret

Looks a great place, will have to put that on our bucket list when we next visit Victoria. Are you heading to Queenscliff where you can put car and van on Searoad Ferry to Sorrento? The Mornington Peninsula is beautiful, we have a friend in Mt Martha and we visited there in 2014 We were also amazed to see caravans parked in sort of the middle of the road, between the water and the shops. Don't think they would like that in Dunsborough! If you do go there would recommend a visit to Peninsula Hot Springs and for the fun of it you can take a trip to French Island, if the Tour with Lois Airs is still going it is hilarious. Have fun. Janet & Norman
Chris: We intend going to the Mornington Peninsula; just not sure if we're going around Melbourne or not. Need to be at MBE airport by middle Feb to attend a UCA retreat in QLD for a few days, so that plays into our planning.

by Janet & Norman Bowles

Wow, we will have to go to Ballarat after finishing Tassie!

by Johannstock

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint