Ballarat is Victoria’s largest inland city. It is famous for being the site of the world’s largest deposit of alluvial gold, and almost a third of all gold found in the colony was taken from its rich quartz reefs. The legacy of this boom period is still evident in the majestic architecture and wide tree-lined streets of the town today. We felt the need to explore Ballarat’s rich history and heritage, nearby natural attractions and make the most of the friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Ballarat, is just over 1 hour from Melbourne via the Western Highway. Daily rail and coach services are available from Melbourne. In Ballarat, one can enjoy Sovereign Hill, Australia’s most successful theme park. Sovereign Hill is a town set in the 1800’s where visitors can experience panning for gold and watching the trades and skills of days gone by.
Named Australia’s Number One Major Tourist Attraction in 2005, Sovereign Hill has been wowing audiences for more than 35 years. Generations of Australians and overseas visitors have experienced recreated 1850s Goldfields Township where real gold flows in the creek and history comes alive. Set on a former gold mining site, the compound has more than 60 buildings, while over 200 people volunteer to dress in period costume on a regular basis.
In the diggings you can pan for REAL gold! Witness $50,000 of molten gold being poured into a bullion bar at Sovereign Hill’s Gold pour. Go 13 metres underground on a tour of the Red Hill Mine, which uses life-size, moving "holograms" to reincarnate battling Cornish miner, Richard Jeffrey as he stumbles on what the biggest gold nugget was ever found, the Welcome Nugget – at 69 kilograms, still the second largest nugget in the world.
You can do all the traditional activities like buy boiled sweets from the confectioner’s, ride in horse-drawn carriages, or simply observe the working and living conditions that existed last century.
Sovereign Hill’s Main Street is busy with people in colorful costumes and horse-drawn vehicles. Craftsmen are at work throughout the township, with a variety of shops and businesses open to purchase goods – grocers, candle maker, blacksmith and jewelers to name a few. At the Hope Bakery, pastry cakes and breads are freshly baked each day in the wood-fired brick oven. You can play bowls, be photographed in Victorian costume, enjoy live street performances and ride in horse drawn coaches.
Horses are a special part of the experience of visiting Sovereign Hill. Horses were a rich part of the sounds and smells of Ballarat’s diggings and Main Road during the fantastic days of the gold rushes of the 1850s. Sovereign Hills horses are working horses. You can see them in teams of two, four or more pulling a variety of vehicles – coaches, carriages, lorries, wagons and drags.
If you want to ‘wake up in the 1850s’, you can stay on-site at Sovereign Hill Lodge, which has a range of rooms to suit all budgets. As well as accommodation, Sovereign Hill has plenty of caf?s, restaurants and picnic areas, while opposite the site; the interesting Gold Museum is crammed with coins, nuggets, alluvial deposits and temporary exhibitions.
Sovereign Hill’s commitment to authenticity and value for money are what makes it one of the best family tourist attractions in the world.
(Facts sourced from tourist brochures)
Author: Mira- Australia