A recreation of an entire 1850's town, Sovereign Hill presents the days of the gold rush in thorough and immaculate detail, from the costumed staff who bustle along Main Street, to the small river flowing through the town. Here you can pan for gold – and if you're one of the lucky ones to find some, it's yours!
There are tours, coach rides and street theatre, sweet-making and candle-dipping, an old-fashioned bowling alley and even a school. The mine tour is particularly creepy, and a great way to find out what life was like for an immigrant miner in the 19th Century. Watch out for the soldiers on the street, keeping the town in order and demonstrating their musket-firing skills. If you're interested in the mechanical side, there are also demonstrations of gold-pouring and coach-building, and you can peek inside the foundry or have a chat with the tinsmith or blacksmith.
The Hope Bakery is a much-touted favourite, but for those growing up in the area the sweetshop can't be beaten – try the handmade Jam Drops especially. There are also three Hotels if you fancy a drink.
There's also the chance to try on period clothing and participate in some activities of the day – baking scones in a 19th century kitchen is no easy task, especially when you have petticoats to manage!
By night, Sovereign Hill offers the Blood on the Southern Cross Sound and Light Show, which tells the story of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854.
Sovereign Hill can be reached by car (there is free parking on-site) or public transport from Ballarat. Be sure to plan a good few hours for your visit – In fact, there's so much to see here that you might want a whole day! Accommodation is also on offer at the Comfort Inn, or you can travel back into Ballarat for more accommodation options.
Be sure to wear good, waterproof shoes as you'll want to be comfortable among the dust and the horses!
More information can be found on their website, or you can phone them on 03 5337 1100.