"Spare the rod and spoil the child", says the stern round schoolteacher, bonnet pulled tightly, framing her face. A teenager enters the school house and is asked her age. "16! You should be married by now", the mistress pronounces. The poor child doesn't know what to say or where to look. Her stunned parents are the same. This generation has no understanding of what life was like in the olden days. No iPhone, no wifi, no overseas holidays, no freedom, just marriage and babies for women and hard manual labour down a mine for the men.
Sovereign Hill offers a marvellous learning opportunity for children in the central goldfields of Victoria, only ninety minutes from Melbourne. With dramatic reconstructions of town events and a myriad of tours and exhibits for visitors to experience, people can gain some insight into what life was really like in the 1800s in a gold rush town. In the tour 'Trapped', we felt genuine sadness as we listened to the voices of men and their women who prayed for them, and real fear as the lights flickered and a mist was sprayed over us, an imitation of when in 1882 the mine actually flooded and 22 lives were lost. We learnt that it was the worst gold mining disaster ever recorded in Australia and changed many of the processes and operating systems of the mines.