Sovereign Hill Ballarat, and Australia’s Life during the Gold Rush

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
We visited Sovereign Hill, back in June 2020 observing safety, and social distancing. 

Acknowledgment of the Country:
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country throughout Melbourne and Victoria and recognize their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging and ask that during your travels you respect these cultures, peoples, and land. 


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Australia is renowned as a country that punches well above its weight across a broad range of measures against global counterparts. The country is the 2nd wealthiest nation in terms of median wealth per adult ahead of after Switzerland (based on 2019 Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse), and ranks as a top 20 country across a wide range of indexes including the economy, international trade, investment, education, and other global indexes.

And just like the rest of the superpowers, Australia was born with a great deal of history. 

Some say that it is impossible to go back in time, but I beg to differ. My experience in visiting the open museum in Ballarat, Victoria changes a lot of my perspective about Australia and learned so much from their stories, like a child listening to many adventures.

But before I got lost in the main street, I could hear a man’s loud voice shouted to warm many of us to give way for the carriage. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Back in the 19th century, Australia is still not an official country, but the discovery of gold and the potential opportunities captures optimism for many. Hence, a community was built and because of so much wealth, it turns into a vibrant town that grew quickly. 





Sovereign Hill, Ballarat Victoria

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
It has been over 170years since the first discovery of gold in Ballarat Victoria, and this vibrant town shows how marvelous life has been. I still couldn’t believe that I am standing in the middle of the main street wearing my jumper paired with jeans to protect myself for freezing Ballarat morning. I thought I could not stand it, then realized that it is way better than having rain at that moment. 


Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Sovereign Hill is an open ground museum depicting the 1850s life during the gold rush era. After the last gold mine closed in Ballarat in 1918, and after more than 50-years Sovereign Hill opened in 1970. The full reconstruction and rehabilitation of the old town was in full swing and opens its main gate to the modern world to see. 

It feels like in a movie set of a period drama series – you will see the area where miners pan for gold and in search for their huge score, women in shops selling many home crafts and dresses, a lady manning the shop dressed in huge ruffled skirt selling confectionaries, a bearded man busy in attending his metalworks, a group of men playing their musical instruments while (pretending) to be drunk. Along the way, you will also notice the powerful scent from a horse’s manure or pee, while it is on its break and waiting for its next guests.

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
It is quite overwhelming at first, but we decide to just wander around and go with the flow. We first visit the miner’s camp most of them are in small tents probably owned by many poor miners, most of them are Chinese workers who came from mainland China, fleeing from violence, famine, and poverty in search of a better opportunity in the place they called ‘New Gold Mountain’. 






Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Inside a typical Chinese miner’s tent

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Through the 1850s, tens of thousands of Chinese miners arrived alongside prospectors from the United Kingdom, Europe, and America to prospect for gold. By 1855 nearly 19,000 Chinese had landed in the colony, and by 1857 the population had risen to 26,000.

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
For those who are lucky enough to save up money, a few Chinese miners managed to open their own stores and small business and moved from living in a tent into a bigger hut. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Inside the Chinese miner’s camp is a dedicated Chinese temple. Spend a few minutes of silence and listen to the voiceover about the miners’ history. 

In here, I realized that the Chinese made many huge contributions to building Australia’s beginnings and successes.




Gold Panning

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
For those who are not qualified for the hard labor of gold mining, some opt for an outdoor gold panning and if you are lucky, you can be struck ounces of gold that you can take home. Recreational gold panning still exists just like here at Sovereign Hill, and the rest of Victoria provided that you secure your permit. 


Exploring the Main Street

As the town continues to progress due to unlimited wealth, many shops and recreational amenities are established. 

You can easily identify the residents as they are dressed in period costumes, while many guests just like us wear warmer clothes to protect us from the colder weather (the seemingly good weather and bright sunshine are very deceiving). 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
During those days, banks are built, postal services are available, including the local newspaper services. They have theatre, hotels and lodging houses, bars, blacksmiths, a men’s club, and shops for the stylish ladies of the town. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
One of the best souvenirs that you can have during your tour is to arrange a photo-op while dressed in period costumes, both available for couples and family portraits. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
You can also get some metal works items in their blacksmith workshops and get your own souvenirs. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Fire is very dangerous even back in the early days, that’s why Sovereign Hill also has its own Fire Brigade station. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
It seems that cars were not available yet during those days, so the most convenient transport is using a horse carriage. I reckon it would be a nice ride around, except the fact that I do not fancy smelling the horse sweat. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Another highlight of this tour is the Gold Mine Tour. I strongly suggest that you allocate a separate day for this tour and book the most convenient schedule due to high demands. 




Admission Ticket Prices and hours

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

Sovereign Hill Entry
Adult - $39.00
Concession - $32.00
Child (5-15 years) - only available when purchased with an Adult, Family, or Single Family Ticket/Pass. Children under 5 years are free. - $20.00
Family (2 Adults and up to 4 Children) - $99.00

Single Parent Family (1 Adult and up to 3 Children) - $71.00

*Australian cards only. Cards must be presented. Valid concession cards: Australian Pension, Disability/Carer, Health Care, Sole Parent, Unemployed, Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Student, Companion Card (FOC), ISIC International Student, Australian Seniors Card, New Zealand Super Gold Card.


An Annual Pass is also available. Check their regular updates here and for more available offers.

Since their re-opening last 31st of October 2020, you may check their daily activities currently on offer. 


Sovereign Hill is COVIDSafe

To ensure Sovereign Hill is safe and secure, tickets will initially be limited to 1,000 tickets per day with additional safety protocols and guidelines in place.

Please be ready to make on-site payments using a contactless bank card rather than cash.

Always bring your mask and wear it when indoor with close proximity to other guests. Social distancing is highly observed, and always use the allocated sanitizers in every facility. 



Sovereign Hill Accommodation

Sovereign Hill Ballarat
Sovereign Hill offers accommodation packages for weekenders, available for group accommodation, families, and students for immersions. 

This is the best option if you want to more in-depth experience, especially Sovereign Hill also offers a special night tour and other activities. 

Sovereign Hill Ballarat


How to Get There?

Sovereign Hill is in Ballarat, about 120 kilometers west of Melbourne. The official address is 39 Bradshaw St, Golden Point, VIC, 3350. You can see it on a map here

The easiest way to get to Sovereign Hill is by car - it's about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne and there's free parking.

For more visual experience, you may also check our Sovereign Hill videos on our YouTube Channel





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32 comments :

  1. Wow the place looks so beautiful! Like a set straight out of an old movie indeed! 😍 i like that there’s an opportunity to take home some gold too! I’m glad you were able to visit and that it’s covid safe! 😊

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    1. That is true! This is also a filming location of some Australian period-drama movies and television series.

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  2. I love Australia but have not been to Victoria. Sovereign Hill looks like a cool place to explore. You’re right, it does look like a movie set and not a real town. I’ll have to plan a visit the next time I visit Melbourne.

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    1. That will be so cool, Debra is you visit! You will love VIC State, and of course Sovereign Hill!

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  3. Wow, I love how Sovereign Hill seems like stepping back into history. The preservation of the old ways of life must be difficult given it is still a functioning town, but well worth it to bring in those who are curious enough to experience it. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. We ask a few resident staffs of Sovereign Hill, and they said that sometimes it does feels like they are living in the 1800, and forgetting that they are actually in the modern days!
      They are so good. Another tip - you can also dressed-up when you visit this place and enjoy taking loads of footage.

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  4. I absolutely love visiting open air museums around the world and especially those that look at a "frontier" lifestyle. We have one where I come from (Massachusetts, USA) for the Pilgrims, so it's fascinating to read about the Australian history and their own living open air museum. It's an incredible example of history and what life was like during the Australian gold rush, I'd love to visit it one day.

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    1. Thank you Jamie for appreciating! Sovereign Hill is one of the few open air museum Australia has to offer. Stay tuned for the rest!

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  5. I never knew about the Chinese history in Australia...that is a lot of folks back in the 1800s to come over there to mine. And those camps were so cool...was that the location of an old mining camp?

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    1. Hi Mike! Yes it is the exact location of the old mining camp. Soon, they will build an extension of Sovereign Hill, making it much bigger!

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  6. Wow this is so cool! You can really turn back time in Sovereign Hill. I love unique experiences like this where you get to learn history by trying things hands on, instead of just watching and reading, like in normal museums.

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    1. On our next trip, we want to experience their night (ghost) tour and other night time attractions.

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  7. Find it very interesting. 🤳🙌 sovereign hill in the midst of pandemic expressing its great old story which continuously giving us people a good vibes every time we see it. Lovin' the views too much💕💕

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  8. I have made quite a few australian friends when I was with my old employer. Our clients are australians and after having met some them here in ph and talked to some of them, I have come to really like them. They're kind people, very friendly, mahinahon makipag usap. I'd love to visit this country sometime. And kudos to them for being covid-free.

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    Replies
    1. Australians are very kind, friendly people. When things back to normal, come and visit Australia!

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  9. I'd love to visit Australia someday. These picture convinced me to!

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  10. Cool! It looks like a very nice place. Walking in those kinds of museums really brings back the old / "historic" feels.

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  11. Have i told you that I am enjoying all your blogs? why? because im not so familiar with Australia. Pero wit h your blogs, i am able to get to know the country even more! mas marami akong nalalaman na new tourism spots aside sa makakita ng kangaroo at koala! Also im enjoying Sovereign hill's open ground museum! first time to learn about this kind of museum as well as the place and history of it! thanks for sharing!

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    1. Aww thank you po! I am happy that you enjoyed reading my Australia travel stories.

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  12. it is such a joy to see things like this! how i wish i can experience them! here only las casas offers a similar experience

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    1. I haven't been to Las Casa pero yup malaki ang potential ng Las Casas!

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  13. what a delightful place. The ground museum literally lets you live an era. No better way to explore the place. The tales that you have shared here and the photographs within those homes, Gold panning - they make me want to get here. Sigh! Someday!

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    1. And if you soo lucky to found a gold nuggets from your gold panning, then it is YOURS!

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  14. I absolutely loved reading this post! I had no idea that Australia had a similar history to America with the gold rush. I love historical places like this. And hope that I am able to see just a one, one day!

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  15. It indeed looks like a movie set. I havent heard of this museum before but this surely looks very interesting. So much to learn about the history. I am too intrigued by the gold panning though. Would surely visit there when in Victoria.

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    1. Some visitors got so lucky and found their own gold nuggets!

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  16. I love those museums that make you travel back in time, not only with lots of information, but by surrounding you in the environment that people used to live in.
    So glad to know that Victoria is more and more open for tourists.

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    1. I'm so glad that I visited this museum, and learned so much making me appreciate Australia even more.

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