NEIL: Sovereign Hill, Ballarat
We wandered down to Ballarat for the day to visit Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum and to pick up the suitcase we left at my mother's on Christmas Day ... one I kinda left by accident or confusion or post Christmas craziness, I can't exactly say which! LOL
A great day ... such fabulous weather and such great places to visit. And topped by a quick and tasty dinner at my mother's before the long drive home.
In case you haven't heard of it before ... Sovereign Hill is a recreation of Ballarat during the gold rush during the mid 19th century. And exactly the sort of thing I love to do ... it's just a shame it's been 30 years since the last time I visited in 1979!
Panning for gold ...one of the first things you see as you enter the park.
It shows all sides of the Gold Rush. The influence and role of the Chinese through a Chinese corner, tent homes, a store, temple and more. They were a huge influence in Ballarat and it's so nice to see them so well represented.
A young Chinese girl making origami birds in one of the tents ... a really nice treat and a freebie for Horace.
Neil in one of the tents from the Chinese quarter.
We also saw lots of stuff related to life from those times. A bike of all things; no pedals, no brakes ... just as much foot power as you can muster.
Horace was really curious about this bike and had to have a turn.
There were horse drawn carriage rides going past every couple of minutes.
You can see how the park is built on hills ... which is Ballarat generally. Great for atmosphere, but not so good for Horace's hip which was really giving him gyp (forgive the bad pun!) by the end of the day.
View down Main street ... so realistic.
We also got to participate in a few activities like a short (12 minutes) walk through a mine that showed a recreation of the Cornish miner who found the largest gold ingot, and some very old fashioned bowling.
Neil trying his hand at bowling ... Horace tried next after Neil. It did not look easy.
And Horace got to go back to school and try out his penmanship with an ink pen and inkwell. Alas, a trip down memory lane for Horace and I ... and an insight for Neil how things were done in the "olden days"! LOL
Horace and I both took a turn ... I'd forgotten how few letters you get out of the ink.
And a final shot of Horace and Neil in front of one of the carriages ... they actually make them there.
Horace and Neil.
The park as a whole is extremely well done, so it's no wonder it wins the best tourist spot for Victoria year after year.
We had a quick look around the museum because time was marching on and we needed to get to my mother's so we could return home before it got dark.
A beautifully composed miner and dog ... and life sized.
But we don't like to miss out on anything, and took a quick look through.
I guess this is what most of the miners used in the streams around Ballarat ... and even elsewhere.
It's hard sometimes to remember that the gold rush in Australia coincided with California, and that many miners tried their luck in both countries. At its peak, around 2 tonnes per week flowed into the Treasury Building in Melbourne. By contrast at least 125 million ounces of gold were take from the California hills. They're both huge amounts that mess with my head.
I never expected to find examples of embroidery on shirts worn by the Chinese miners and shopkeepers ... and such fabulous examples of blackwork.
If you have a spare day and are anywhere near the park and museum ... drop in and visit. There's plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained; from 8 to 80 as they say.