Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum in Golden Point, Victoria, about 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne. It seems like stepping back in time and brings to life excitement of Australia’s great 1850s gold rushes. I have been to a similar open-air museum or old town in San Diego in America and it has similar setting but bigger. Sovereign Hill is small compared to San Diego Old Town in California, America and it has an entrance fee to get in and it is not cheap, whereas San Diego Old Town is free of charge and has the Mexican’s vibe.
You will be given a map once you entered but not a very clear map at all. It tells what to see and do including the daily activities, mine adventures and trades, crafts & stores and where to eat. I had a hard time figuring the map and the activities schedule.
Gold Panning Activities
The gold panning seems like a popular activity here. However, due to the rain and it was too cold to soak in the water, I refused to pan some gold to bring home. But you are encouraged to try the gold panning activities, the costume staff will be showing you how to do it. By the way, the staffs here are all in the period costumes which make a very good atmosphere.
When I was about to cross the road, the horse-drawn Coach ran towards me and gave me a shock! The horses here are incredibly huge and tall. I love horses but I have never ridden one before, that’s a shame. But I have seen one of the most incredible species on earth, called Akhal-teke Horse (汗血宝马) in Xinjiang, China. Over here in Sovereign Hill, the 4 horses that I have seen with the coach are strong and tall build but certainly not the rare Akhal-teke horse breed.
Get your ticket online via Klook to enjoy the discount, save up to 20 % discount. Ticket at the counter cost: S$54.45 but book from Klook online only needs about S$ 44.69. Depending on the discount rate at the time of your purchase.
There are a number of stores line up, you will see 19th-century trades and crafts practiced by skilled costumed staff. Just to name some are the Candles factory, Tinsmith, Candy factory, Jewelry, Post office, Photographic rooms, bank and many more.
You may want to get your cowboy hat in the saddlery shop.
All shops are open for the public and you should check out the interesting decor and layout of each shop, some offer things to sell too. Seeing the staff in the period costume has provided me a real feeling of that period in time.
A man walked in period costume, looks super cool, don’t you reckon? We only see these people in the movie.
The staff explained and did a quick demo on candle making.
You are welcome to purchase the candles and soaps back for souvenirs.
There is a little church in Sovereign Hill and apparently there is a class going on.
I was pretty surprised to see there are even children in costume running around in Sovereign Hill. There are lots of them, not a few of them, so they can’t be employed ‘actor/actress”.
Then I found out that it is actually a special program for school children to experience the life of the 1850s. It is a two-day program dressed in 19th century-style clothing and using classrooms and equipment of the era. The program is guided by qualified teachers and they look super serious and no smile on their faces. I am sure it will be so fun to let the children experience first hand Victoria’s colonial history.
The Sovereign Hill Costumed School seems to be very popular with bookings filling 12 months in advance. It also includes the accommodation for the two-day program staying in this old town of Sovereign Hill.
Charlie Napier Hotel
Hotel back in the olden days and do pay attention to the antique weighing scale at the front of the hotel. (Far right from the picture below).
Ash & Dawson, Builders & Undertakers
We, Chinese are usually superstitious and reluctant to look at the coffin. You will see the old coffin-making workshop and the funeral carriage.
I was surprised to find out the bowling alley in Sovereign Hill! Bowling seems like a popular game back in the Gold Rush period. As I stepped in to look closer to the alley, it was made of wood and then I wanted to find out what about the ball? The ball too was made of wood, everything was made from wood, including the 9 pins at the end of the alley.
Red Hill Photographic Rooms
You can dress up in the Victorian costumes and pose for a family picture. Looks super cute.
There is a red small Buddhist Temple which is the most obvious thing you will see in the Chinese Camp area.
You can also have a peek at how Ballarat’s Chinese diggers lived and worked as you explore their tents.
Tea or Herbalist Hut in Chinese Camp.
If you want to step back in time, Sovereign Hill is a wonderful experience. I love to see school children running around in their full costumes happily. The Costumed School in Sovereign Hill has certainly light up the whole atmosphere in this town.