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Going for gold

Gold panning, gold mines and a golden oldie


Today was the last full day of having Rach’s parents stay but more importantly it was Rach’s dads birthday. We wanted to give him a great day so we started off by filling the kitchen with balloons and banners and surprising him with a skype session involving Rach’s two older siblings.

We’d been planning for some time to take him out for a birthday to trip to a highly regarded living history museum called Sovereign Hill to fulfil his inner history nerd. Having heard so much about it and constantly being told to go there had somewhat inflated our expectations of the place and so it had a lot to live up to when we went. This need for Sovereign Hill to impress us only increased as we handed over our mullah. We should have never worried; it took our expectations, laughed at them, jiggled them around a bit and generally trampled all over them. The place was amazing! We took one look at the map and, realising how big it was, decided to dive straight in.

When it comes to museums we were all lefties, and so we headed off to the left hand side to the Chinese camp. It was set up to guide you through the various stages of a mining settlement, with a focus on the Chinese immigrant population and how they lived. There were the tents of the first stage settlement, through to permanent wooden buildings and even an amazing temple. There was a brook running through the top end of the camp and there we got to try our hand at panning for gold! Sadly we didn’t manage to walk away new found millionaires with the boys being the only ones to have any luck and even then catching only a couple of specs of gold. So finishing our brief dabble with the flighty temptress that is gold panning we headed up to the main street of the town, and yes there really are enough buildings there that in Australia it could qualify as a town. There aren’t any pictures that we’ve taken that can do it justice in terms of size but we'll try, the panorama below shows you one of the streets.


Just to give you a summary though, just in this section alone there were stables, a photographers studio, a hotel, a pub, a theatre, a pharmacy, a bankers, a bakers, a dressmakers and so on. We made it in time for the military parade; red-coated soldiers marching up the street, presenting arms and firing. Afterwards we were allowed to have our photos taken with our fav soldier. After this we headed straight onto one of the next activities on the long list of things to do. The park was truly amazing, providing a detailed schedule of all the different activities to do and it meant that we managed to fit in only brief moments of doing our own exploring between all the tours and demonstrations going on. There was however a cost for some of these tours but this is definitely a minority and for the most part everything is covered by the entrance fee. We got an automated tour of a gold mine, a gold ingot pouring demonstration, several performances from the buildings in the street, candle making demos and more. We have never seen as much history packed into a small space. Oh and just as a small side note, the pub worked as a fully functioning pub with some refreshing beers for those parched throats – an excellent place to have a birthday drink.


Our only regret is that we couldn’t spend an extra day (which at the moment is for free) as we rushed around some parts of it and we could easily have spent two days exploring the entire place. Although it was a relatively expensive day out considering that we normally look for free attractions we felt that it worth the money and would have dearly loved to go back again.

To round off a celebratory day worthy of a great man we headed off to an Indian restaurant for an enjoyable curry before surprising him with a cake when we arrived home.

Rex's Rules of the Road

  • Arrive at Sovereign Hill early – and we mean as soon as it opens if you are only going to spend one day there. There really is no other way to pack it all in.
  • Try and time it so that you see all of the different shows and attractions as we missed out on a couple.
  • If you are wanting to do extra tours check out the website for pricing and times. Some are very much worth it, others we weren’t so convinced by.
  • Check out Rach's review of Sovereign Hill here.

Posted by rexontheroad 23:26 Archived in Australia

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