Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill is an open air museum in Golden Point, a suburb of Ballarat, Victoria. Sovereign Hill depicts Ballarat's first ten years after the discovery of gold there in 1851. It was officially opened on 29 November 1970 and has become a nationally acclaimed tourist attraction. It is one of Victoria's most popular attractions and Ballarat's most famous attraction.

Set in the Australian 1850s, the complex is located on a 25-hectare site that is linked to the richest alluvial gold rush in the world. The site comprises over 60 historically recreated buildings, with costumed staff and volunteers, who are able to answer questions and will pose for photos. The recreation is completed with antiques, artwork, books and papers, machinery, livestock and animals, carriages and devices all appropriate to the era.

The gold diggings are the centre point of the complex, featuring a winding creek in which visitors are able to pan for real gold. This area is surrounded by tents and buildings contemporary to the early years of the gold rush. A recent addition to Sovereign Hill is the Gold Pour where pure gold valued at over $100,000 is melted and poured into a three-kilogram bullion bar.

There are two mines which have guided tours at regular intervals. The Red Hill Mine is a self guided tour that tells the story of a group of Cornishmen and their discovery of the Welcome Nugget. The Sovereign Quartz Mine runs 40 minute guided tours and features several underground displays. Above ground it also features steam-driven machinery for pumping water and processing the ore. More recently an attraction titled 'Trapped' has been added. This underground exhibit tells the story of the mining disaster at Creswick in 1882 in which 22 miners died due to the collapse and flooding of the New Australasian No 2 Mine. This is still considered Australia's worst mining disaster.

The Main Street is lined with shops, two hotels and a theatre. Among the shops on Main Street there is also a blacksmith's workshop, stables, photography studio, apothecary, bakery, jeweller's shop, grocer, tentmaker, tinsmith, bank, post office, nine-pin bowling saloon and library. Behind the Main Street there are a number of cottages which are open for visitors. There are also four schools where children in school-groups dress in period costume and attend as a child of the 1850s. A number of workshops at Sovereign Hill, display traditional trades such as coachbuilder, wheelright, tinsmith, blacksmith and farrier.

Blood on the Southern Cross is a show depicting the Eureka Stockade story of 1854. Run at night for a length of 90 minutes, using only sound and lights.

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