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There’s gold in them there hills

I did a blog yesterday about Sovereign Hill so thought I’d tell you a little about it in case you are not from these parts. It is an outdoor museum themed around Australia’s gold rush. This particular area near Ballarat, was a small pastoral settlement when gold was discovered in 1851.

The second largest gold nugget ever found in Australia was unearthed in Ballarat in 1858 weighing 64 kilos called the Welcome Nugget. Shortly after it was found it was taken to the UK and melted down to make gold sovereign coins.

By 1861, Ballarat had grown into an affluent city built on the wealth derived from its gold. The museum itself  is a not for profit organisation which opened in 1970 and over 45,000 people visit each year. It is well worth a day out if you are ever in the area.

There’s plenty to do, from horse and carriage rides, panning for gold,  19th century 10 pin bowling (although I am sure it wasn’t called that) and even making your own candles

Schools from around the area can go and dress up for the day.

The old machinery is fascinating. You can see iron mongers making horse shoes, others making brass object and see original casts that wheelwright’s would have used.

One of the most interesting things is that there is still gold being found. Gold mining ceased in Victoria, not because there was no more gold but in part because of the depth and cost of pumping. Also, most of the labourers went to assist in the First World War effort so there wasn’t enough people left to work the mines. On top of that, in 1915 Australia banned the exporting of gold.  The industry never fully recovered after that.

When you take into account that, in these unstable financial times, gold prices are at an all time high, it’s very tempting to buy a metal detector! Who’s with me?

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