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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