Tuesday 17 August 2010

Sovereign Hill

Some of my loyal readers will remember visiting Sovereign Hill with me in August 2001. Not much has changed. But then, when you’re talking about a site that recreated a 19th century mining town, not much has to change.

Sovereign Hill is on the outskirts of Ballarat, a goldfields town about 100km north west of Melbourne. The place is billed as an open air museum. You pay $40, enter through the unprepossessing information centre and emerge onto a street that really does look like it could be Victoria c. 1850.

There are wooden shops will false fronts and a line-up of businesses from chemists to sweetie shops. Since it’s a visitor attraction, all of these shops flog their wares to the tourists but, to be fair, a lot of the goods for sale are made by craftspeople on site.

Costumed interpreters roam the streets and I’ve got to say I enjoyed having handsome man tip their hats at me. Is this something we could bring back, please?

It was Steam Day the day I was there, so there was a parade of puffing vehicles going up and down Main St.

I walked up Main St in the rain, admiring the shops. I took cover under a porch and listened to the steam organ across the street. With perfect timing, the organ started playing Singin’ in the Rain just as the drizzle turned into a deluge.

How perfectly Wild West is the foundry?

Eventually the rain got so hard that I went inside for shelter ... into a funeral parlour as it turned out.

Thinking I would be better off underground, I went on a tour of one of the mines. Even though the guide who sent me down reassured me I was on cctv the whole time, it’s still a bit creepy on your own in a dimly lit tunnel underground….

Really, the afternoon was an exercise in duck and cover, as I ran from one shelter to another. The tent that doubles as the Catholic Church was a bit leaky, but I amused myself by taking photos of the raindrops. (See, it really was very rainy.)

Then I walked down to the miners’ camp where the small scale diggings were. A few brave souls were panning for gold in the rain.

A quick visit to the Chinese temple and then I decided I’d had enough of getting wet.

What to do?

I found a table by the fire in a nice tea room that served scones. Nom nom nom.

Sovereign Hill is worth a visit, but it’s definitely more fun when it’s not raining.

1 comment:

  1. The only thing I could still remember about Sovereign Hill was the sweetshop - so thank you for filling in the rest! We have previously discussed my weird lack of memories from that whole trip. Maybe it was the Bundies and Coke that did it...