G’day, let me tell you about a place that’s a lot of FUN for little kids and big kids… It’s a place where you can literally step back in time and appreciate what was once the region’s “gold era”. Welcome to Sovereign Hill … an open air museum located in a suburb of Ballarat (approximately 105km WNW of Melbourne).
History of Sovereign Hill
The concept of building Sovereign Hill was initially put forward in Ballarat in the 1960s. The idea was to preserve the historic buildings and reconstruct the diggings that made this provincial city flourish. Consequently, the first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851 is what has been recreated at Sovereign Hill.
And so on Sunday, 29 November 1970, Sovereign Hill as we know it today, was officially opened.
The town of Ballarat is also significant for the Welcome Nugget (not to be confused with the Welcome Stranger which is the largest nugget ever found in 1869 further north of Ballarat near a town called Dunolly). The Welcome Nugget is the world’s second largest gold nugget, weighing in at 69kgs and containing 99% pure gold unearthed in the Red Hill mine in 1858. At the time of discovery, the Welcome Nugget was worth approximately 10, 050 pounds but it is now worth over US$3M in gold (or even more as a specimen).
To find out all about the discovery of the Welcome Nugget, you can actually take the self-guided tour of the Red Hill mine which has been recreated at Sovereign Hill.
Sovereign Hill Today
Sovereign Hill is Ballarat’s most famous attraction and also one of Victoria’s most popular. The experience here is completely immersive, interactive and put simply, so much fun! The main attraction is the gold diggings which feature a winding creek where you can pan for real gold (and keep it)! But what really brings all this to life are the costumed staff and volunteers going about their daily routine of working in a fully operational replica township and who are more than happy to pose for a photo with you making for an extra memorable visit.
The Gold Museum
The Gold Museum, located on the same site as Sovereign Hill, is also worth a visit. The museum displays an impressive exhibition of gold and extends Sovereign Hill’s story of Ballarat. The building itself is quite striking with its glass façade that lets the sun in to shine on the gold collections.
There are plenty of exciting attractions to visit in this region and Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is just one of them. To find out more about this area, here are a couple of links including one where you can join our Sovereign Hill day tours if you’re not up to driving there yourself):
Have you been to Sovereign Hill?
Tell us your experience in the comments section below!