Sovereign Hill in Ballarat can be reached within a 90 minute drive from Melbourne's CBD.
Sovereign Hill is a recreational tourist attraction, historical park and active open air museum, set in the scene of the Gold Rush Era (1850s). Ballarat quickly became known as a gold mining haven as news quickly spread of a gold discovery at Poverty Point on 18 August 1851. Approximately 20,000 migrants rushed to the town, working in the gold rich fields where the worlds most sought after element could earn them the wealth they longed for.
Sovereign Hill re-enacts the Victorian gold rush time when Ballarat transformed from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Families are transported back in time to an authentic Victorian town complete with horse carriage rides, mine tours, gold panning and more.
Shops found along The Main Street of Sovereign Hill include a blacksmith's, photography studio, sweet shop (the hard-boiled Raspberry Drops are legendary), apothecary, bakery, jeweller's shop, grocer, tentmaker and tinsmith. There is also two hotels, a theatre, a bank, post office, bowling saloon, a candle maker and library.
Aside from interesting historical activities to take part in, what makes Sovereign Hill special are the costumed characters found throughout the park, plus over 40 beautiful horses trotting around the cobbled streets, setting the perfect scene for a historical time when lives were so different from what we have today.
If you are wondering what age might be appropriate to take your children, I took my then 4yr old son and he loved it. There is so much to see and do, although he really enjoyed seeing costumed characters; marching soldiers in particular, candle making (with a little help from Mum), and gold panning.
Our trip to Sovereign Hill visit took place in summertime on a day time visit. We didn't take advantage of the evening Blood on the Southern Cross show which I hear is very impressive.
Should you decide to rug up and pay a visit in winter, you are in for a treat as Sovereign Hill is transformed into a winter wonderland spectacular with 'Christmas in July' featuring Christmas shop displays, Christmas dinner in the restaurants, a Christmas light show starting at 5:30pm and even snow!.
Sovereign Hill can be found at Bradshaw Street, easily found via tourist signs when you reach Ballarat.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm. Evening times vary throughout the year for the ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ sound and light show due to seasonal daylight. Click here for session times.