If you have always been curious about Australia’s historic Gold Rush in Ballarat then what better way to learn than by reliving it during a visit to Sovereign Hill. During the day you can wander the outdoor living museum on the original mining site filled with costumed characters, underground mine tours, gold pour demonstrations and live theatre. But by night, the real magic happens during the brand new ‘Aura’ outdoor light and sound show with incredible 3D projections transporting you back in time under the evening sky.
A trip to Sovereign Hill is a completely immersive experience and a must visit attraction for anyone interested in the nation’s history. Here is our guide to Sovereign Hill by day and by night.
Where is Sovereign Hill?
You’ll find Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, a comfortable 90 minute drive from Melbourne CBD and there is plenty of free parking available here.
Within moments of arriving at Sovereign Hill, you’ll feel like you have stepped into an alternate universe. The costumed staff and goldfield towns complete with shops, schools, theatres, blacksmiths and apothecaries are the best way to understand what life was really like during the great Gold Rush of the 1850’s which put Ballarat on the map.
Aspirational miners travelled across the globe and faced difficult and dangerous conditions all in the hopes of striking lucky digging for their own piece of nugget Gold. In fact, visitors still to this day can pan for gold and guess what- it’s finders, keepers!
From underground mine tours to Gold pouring demonstrations, horse-drawn coach rides and a historic township filled with tradesmen- there is so much to do at Sovereign Hill.
Underground Mine Tours
Red Hill Mine Tour
Open to the public, the Red Hill Mine Tour is a free self guided mining tour. See for yourself the dark and cramped conditions that were dangerous. Miners put it all on the line in search of gold. And for some lucky miners, the risk paid off. The second largest golden nugget was found at this mine tipping the scales at a whopping 69 kilograms.
Guided Mining Tours
There are three additional underground mine tours to choose from at Sovereign Hill which attract a modest fee around $20 per tour per family. The tours have a little element of excitement as you board a Gold Mine tram and head deep down under the earth. The ‘Secret Chamber’ tour describes the journey of two Chinese diggers in their quest for gold while ‘Trapped’ details the tragic and heartwrenching story of the Creswick Mine disaster in 1882. The third tour ‘Journey through the Labyrinth of Gold’ gives visitors an insight into the inner workings and dangers of the famous Ballarat mines of the 1850’s.
Sovereign Hill has a roster of daily activities throughout the day beginning with orientation tours of the village. Costumed staff will guide you through the village. There are also demonstrations by Blacksmiths, Musket Firing, Theatre shows, a must see Gold Pour demonstrations, sweet making at the Confectionary Factory, Candle making, Coach Rides and much more.
A whole day is needed to discovery every square each of the village and all its shows, tours and demonstrations.
You’d better toe the line and follow the law and order out on the Goldfields during a Musket firing demonstration. You’ll be shown how to load and fire a musket.
Go ahead and pan for gold. This is an interactive family friendly activity the whole family can join in on. Who knows… you may even find some loose Gold.
Long before the invention of cars, horses were the main transportation. Horse drawn coach tours are available through the historic township. This is an experience that will really take you back to the 1850’s surrounded by antique shops, schools, theatres and staff dressed in Victorian era clothing.
If you wish to visit Sovereign Hill during the day then click on through for more information and to purchase your tickets right here through Experience Oz.
As dusk approaches, you can stay on and enjoy the brand new open air light and sound show called ‘Aura’. With the help of modern technology, visitors can be transported back into time and be amongst the chaos, protests and gunfights of the Gold Rush era.
Multi-sensory Evening Show under the Stars
Aura is a multi-sensory experience using cutting edge 3D projection technology on Sovereign Hill’s lakes and 64 acres retelling the dramatic story of the Dreamtime and the great Australian Gold Rush of the 1850’s.
The ‘atmospheric storytelling’ is brought to you by Sovereign Hill which transports you back into time. Experience first hand the Wadawurrung creation story, protests and gunfights under the evening sky.
The 90 minute show utilises the hundreds of projections over 26 hectares of Sovereign Hill and is perfect for families. The immersive experience is a brilliant retelling of how gold has revolutionised Australia and in peak periods there are two shows available each night.
The one of a kind show starts from $64 per person and $34.40 for children and is a must do for travellers in the Melbourne and Ballarat region. You can find more information and book your Sovereign Hill Aura Show tickets right here.
Whether you choose to visit Sovereign Hill by day or night, an adventure awaits. The interactive village in Ballarat celebrates and commemorates a piece of Australian history for all to see. A visit to Sovereign Hill is a great activity for the family, locals and tourists alike.