Sovereign Hill


I dunno what it is about Australian history, but it really fascinates me.

I mean, Australia was colonised by the Poms back in the 1700’s; has had significant influence from the good ol’ US of A in the 1800’s, and in the mid 1900’s we became multicultural, accepting all and sundry from places like Italy, Greece, Poland… most of Europe really.

By the late 1900’s we started accepting people from South East Asia, and now there’s a lot of who-ha about accepting people from the Middle East, Africa and other such countries.

Be that as it may, I reckon there’s something special about a nation when you can walk into a workplace and say good morning to your work-mates in a five or six languages and everyone understand what you’re saying.


I think my favourite part of Australian History would have to be the 1800’s. Maybe because it was a bit like Americas’ wild west… but with a uniquely Australian theme.

This was the time when Bush-rangers roamed the countryside, and “There was gold in them thar hills!”

This is where Sovereign Hill comes in.


While staying with some friends in Melbourne VIC back in March, The Pillion and I visited Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, about 100km (60 mi) or so west of Melbourne.

Sovereign Hill is a faithful reproduction of what Ballarat looked like in the 10 years following the gold rush of 1851.



The gold rush came right after a major worldwide economic depression and transformed Australia both economically and politically.

It also saw the influx of British and Irish immigrants to the Australian gold fields in the 1850’s.



Within months of the first strike on August 18, 1851, the population of this little sheep station swelled to over 20,000. Not only were there Brits and Irish, there were North Americans, Chinese and settlers from other parts of Europe as well.

The settlers brought with them many of their own customs, traditions and architecture. And looking around, its easy to spot the influence the new settlers had on the place.


What makes the place so much more authentic, is that local schools have day excursions to Sovereign Hill. The kids, and their teachers, dress in period costume while they move about the place studying the various aspects of gold field life.



Everything you see around you is as it would have been… Everything from a chance meeting of friends, to two people nourishing a courtship.


We walked the main street a few times and always seemed to come across this chap. He is the town banker. Every-time we went past him he seemed to be expressing his displeasure with something-or-other.

And before you ask, he didn’t like it when I mocked him, asking “Which Bank?” <YouTube Link> (Aussies will get this).


Shop keepers get in on the act, too.

Incidentally, most of the items sold in the towns stores are hand-made within the confines of the town; lollies (candy), plates, bells, timber and leather products, candles just to name a few.

Of course there are a few items stamped “Made In China”, but even then you could argue they had Chinese miners… so it all fits 😉


It’s easy to forget the bloke clearing cobwebs and performing other maintenance tasks around the towns displays is actually a member of staff.

When you put all this together, it makes for a very immersive experience.


Of course, no display of colonial Australia would be complete without the Red Coats.

These British Soldiers were members of the 40th Regiment of Foot and were brought into Ballarat to bolster the local police force, which was outnumbered and ill-equipped to handle the rising population and the unruly behavior of some of the settlers and miners.




Something that intrigued me was that the town had many old school tradesmen and women scattered about the town.

Blacksmiths, wheelwright’s, foundry men, candle makers; everything you might need to keep a small gold mining town running like clockwork.


I’m kinda glad I live in these times though. I mean, check out the dentistry tools… err, implements in the picture above.

Just quietly, I think I’ll use the piece of string and door trick if it’s all the same to you.


P.S. The progressive fork springs go into Bluey this weekend… can’t wait.

  • Cześć: G’day in Polish. It can also mean goodbye, like saying “See ya!”

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14 thoughts on “Sovereign Hill

  1. Thank you for posting this – great with the monochrome pics. I always enjoy learning about the history of other places. The only thing I knew about Ballarat was that it was mentioned by Danny Bhoy in his concert from Sydney.(I think he fell off the stage in Ballarat)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Ghost! And nice touch with the black and white photos.

    I think you’re as interested in Australia’s settlement history as I am in the history of the Wild West. To repeat something you mentioned here and something we briefly referenced in our exchange the other day about stonework and your postcard, there seem to be striking similarities between Australia’s settlement history and that of the Wild West. Fascinating stuff indeed.

    Your mention of the dentistry tools reminded me of a story I heard at the mining museum in Eureka, Utah: When the curators acquired the cobbler’s tools, they couldn’t imagine why he had possessed dental forceps… As the story goes (as they later heard), the cobbler was short a leg and had difficulty climbing the stairs to the dentist’s office. The dentist eventually provided the cobbler with forceps and told him to be sure to sterilize them before use. Well, whenever the cobbler had a bad tooth that needed pulling, he’d sterilize the forceps over a candle flame, take and few swigs of whiskey, and then go to work.

    I don’t know if there’s any truth to the tale, but it makes for a hell of a story.

    And that’s what we human beings are–stories and storytellers–defined by our own and informed and entertained by others’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. Sometimes the story behind the story is far more interesting… Even if anecdotal.

      There’s nothing better than pulling up at a pub or cafe and listening to the old cockies telling of how it used to be. Sure there’s some embellishment. But it makes for a great way to pass the time.


  3. Enjoyed this tour back in time, and really liked your comment: “I reckon there’s something special about a nation when you can walk into a workplace and say good morning to your work-mates in a five or six languages and everyone understand what you’re saying”.
    That is just so great.
    My bike is back in the shop trying to figure out why the battery keeps draining. Thought is was the regulator (replaced it) but evidently not.
    Sad to be missing some great fall riding, although this weekend has been fairly frigid and windy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not good that you have one of those electrical problems. I say one of those, because they are a pest to diagnose first time round.

      It might might be a short to earth or a battery on its way out. Gotta be something simple.


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