Step back in time and experience Australia’s historic gold rush at Sovereign Hill. Back in the 1850s, Victoria was a popular gold-mining hotspot, and there are still plenty of vintage towns dotted around that hark back to this fascinating time. A visit to Sovereign Hill will offer you the chance to learn more about this important part of Australia’s past and experience some of the picturesque towns around it that have been dubbed the Golden Trail.
Sovereign Hill is one of the country’s most popular outdoor museums, recreating the enchanting first ten years in Ballarat after gold was discovered there in the early 1850s. At this point in time, thousands of adventurers flocked to Australia’s shores in search of fortune, and you can relive this through a range of interactive exhibits and educational activities.
Throughout the museum, everything is laid out in 1800s style. Ladies in costumes parade down Main Street, while the Red Hill Gully Diggings give visitors the chance to pan for their own real gold. Elsewhere, there are underground mine tours, horse-drawn coach experiences, and the chance to go shopping in 1850s-style boutiques.
As well as the designated exhibits, the streets themselves act as a theatre for visitors, where actors replay old scenes and the stage is set in an old-fashioned homage to the gold rush itself.
When darkness falls, Sovereign Hill comes alive in a multi-million-dollar show of sound and light. “Blood on the Southern Cross”, as the experience is known, plays out the dramatic and fascinating story of the 1854 Eureka Uprising, and is well worth a watch if you want to learn more about this unique time in Australian history.
Fun Things to Do at Sovereign Hill
Hidden Histories Digital Tour
Bring the past into the present on Sovereign Hill’s digital tour, which walks you through the rich history of the Aboriginal people on the Ballarat goldfields over two decades in the 1800s. Learn about their way of life and discover how the era changed the landscape and lifestyle of locals.
Make like the miners and head underground to discover what was involved in gold mining in the 19th century. As well as learning about the techniques involved, you’ll have the chance to mine for gold yourself.
Trades, Crafts, and Stores
The streets of Sovereign Hill are filled with shops dedicated to rare and extinct 19th century trades. Shop around for unique gifts and pick up a souvenir or two to remember your time in this fascinating area.