For visitors looking to delve deep into the fascinating history of Australia, head to Sovereign Hill, a popular open-air museum in the suburb of Ballarat, Victoria. The museum dates back to 1970, when it quickly became a national tourist attraction thanks to its re-enactments of the fascinating gold rush era in Australia.
Here, visitors can experience what life was like during the mid 1800s in Australia by taking part in gold diggings in a picturesque winding creek. The area is decked out in traditional tents and buildings that were typical of the early gold rush years. For something extra sparkly, keep your eyes peeled for the Gold Pour, where pure gold valued at more than $100,000 has been melted down and poured into a three-kilogram bullion bar.
In addition to this, there are two mines that form the backdrop for guided tours throughout the day, both of which feature underground displays. Back above ground, you can wander around a selection of steam-driven machinery that was used to pump water and process ore back in the day and take in the “Trapped” attraction that tells the story of the New Australasian Gold Mine disaster in 1882.
Along the main strip of Sovereign Hill, there are plenty of gift shops, a couple of hotels and a theatre, as well as a traditional blacksmith’s workshop, apothecary, and bakery, which really makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Telling the Story of the Eureka Blockade
Perhaps one of the main attractions though is the “Blood on the Southern Cross” experience, which re-enacts the Eureka Stockade story from 1854.
This sound-and-light show depicts the dramatic and bloody battle between gold miners and the government forces in Ballarat and takes place in various different spots throughout Sovereign Hill to provide authentic backdrops and real-life experience.
The most notable thing about the show is that there are no actors. Instead, it is made up of voices, sounds, and lighting effects that really bring the open-air set to life. Visitors view a lot of the show from the Free Trade Hotel and the Eureka Diggings and spend some time being transported around town while the story unfolds.
As you go, you’ll get an insight into the miners’ disgust at sky-high gold taxes and witness the Eureka Hotel as it went up in flames. Afterwards, you’ll be party to Governor Hotham’s justification for the dawn attack.
Experiencing Sovereign Hill and the Eureka Blockade story really brings this part of Australia to light and provides a fascinating and visually stimulating look into this rich part of the country’s history.