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Sovereign Hill Attractions

Posted 08/04/2024 in Things to do

Looking to see what Sovereign Hill attractions you can explore on your visit to Ballarat, Victoria? This extensive guide has got you covered.

Visit Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and discover what life was like during Ballarat's 1850's gold rush! This remarkable working replica of a goldfields town is complete with stores, hotels, a theatre, workshops, and of course - the gold diggings.

Working exhibits are brought to life by fully costumed characters and teams of gorgeous horses. 

So what Sovereign Hill attractions can you expect on your visit? Lets take a closer look... 

The Diggings

Step back to the year 1851 and try your luck at the diggings! Immerse yourself in history as you wander among the mine shafts, which are complete with windlasses and windsails, and be sure to stop by the store for your gold panning supplies. 

Here you will discover all the gold rush technologies which were once commonplace in Ballarat, including a California pump, a gold puddling machine, a whim, a Chilean mill, and a good old fashioned gold cradle. 

A creek runs through the diggings, which is always busy with modern gold-seekers seeking their fortunes. Which brings us to the next attraction...

Gold panning

No visit to Sovereign Hill would be complete without finding yourself a bit of gold, and fortunately, the creek which runs through the diggings is loaded with it!

Grab yourself a gold pan and try your luck, there's plenty of fine gold hiding among the gravels of the riverbed. 

The gold pour

There was a lot of gold found in the Ballarat mines, and I mean a lot! Ever wonder what they did with it? Well, it was melted down and poured into gold bars.

At Sovereign Hill, you can visit the gold smelting works for regular demonstrations of a gold pour - where gold is melted down and poured into a huge ingot.

Stamp battery demonstrations

One of Sovereign Hill's many fantastic highlights is the stamp battery demonstration!

The battery was used to crush gold-bearing quartz and conglomerate, and were once commonplace across the goldfields. 

Have a listen to the stamp of the battery and try to imagine what it must have been like in Ballarat during the gold rush, when these loud machines were operating all over town!

Cornish beam pump demonstrations

Sovereign Hill's Cornish beam pump is a true gem, and is a fantastic example of a pumping technology which was widely used across the goldfields.

You can get an up close look at various components of the Cornish beam pump, both inside the engine shed, and out at the shaft. 

Horse-drawn coach rides

Take the family on an adventure around the diggings on a horse-drawn coach! Gorgeous horses take you on a journey past the gold mine, the diggings, and up the picturesque Main Street. 

Vintage photography experience

What better way to take a step back in time than stepping into a Victorian era costume for a vintage photography session?

The Photographic Rooms at Sovereign Hill offer a fantastic photography experience - this one is very popular, so it's best to book your place upon arrival. 

Climb the poppet head

What a view! Climb up this wooden poppet head and walk out along the tramway for an incredible vantage point over what was once the incredible Golden Point diggings, look out across to Mount Warrenheip and Buninyong, and of course, you'll get a great view over Sovereign Hill. 

Poppet heads are huge structures which stand over mine shafts, and support the sheave wheels which allow winding cables to haul miners, mullock and ore from underground. 

While you're up there, take a look at the various components including the sheave wheels at the top, the cables running down the shaft, and the cage which carried men and ore trucks in and out of the mine. 

Musket firing

You won't want to miss this! Watch the redcoat soldiers march up Main Street then fire off their guns. You'll be advised to cover your ears for this one, and I recommend you do - these musket shots are certainly loud! 

Candle Making

Drop by at Hewitt's Candle Works and learn all about the beautiful art of candle making. You can watch demonstrations or participate yourself. There are candle dipping as well as pouring workshops. 

Dine at gorgeous old-fashioned eateries

At Sovereign Hill, you'll be experiencing a glimpse of what life was like for miners living and working during the Victorian gold rush! But does that mean you'll be eating like them too...? 

During the early gold rushes, mutton and damper was basically all that was available for the miners to eat! This was supplied from the nearby sheep stations which, prior to the mad onset of the gold rush, had been the main producers of the region. 

Fortunately you'll be a little more spoiled for choice when looking for places to eat at Sovereign Hill! Take a look through this page of places to eat at Sovereign Hill to help plan your trip.

underground gold mine tours

Sovereign Hill offers a range of unmissable underground gold mine tours. You can take guided tours with various themes, as well as a self-guided underground tour of a replicated Red Hill mine - the mine where the famous Welcome Nugget was discovered in 1858. 

Confectionery making demonstration

If you haven't tried Sovereign Hill's famous Raspberry Drops, you don't know what you're missing. 

Stop by the Confectioner's and discover how these tasty treats are made, and be sure to visit Charles Spencer's confectionery store to choose from over 40 flavours of hand-made Sovereign Hill sweets!

Blacksmith demonstrations

Visit the Blacksmith for a demonstration of this fascinating old trade. Watch the skilled blacksmith as he crafts wares using traditional hand tools and techniques from the gold rush era. 

Bowling saloon

Fancy a game? Stop by the bowling saloon at the top end of Main Street for some old fashioned fun. Bowling Saloons were very popular at old gold rush towns - along with the many theatres and hotels!

Gold rush bar

Enjoy light refreshments and Sovereign Hill beer at the solid timber bar of the United States Hotel. You even have a sample of Ballarat's Sly Grog, the best gin on the Goldfields.

Evening light show

Sovereign Hill's AURA Sound & Light Spectacular is an evening show which takes you through the story of gold, covering the creation, discovery, and impact gold has had throughout history. 

This 90 minute presentation is an absolute must-see, with hundreds of high tech projections transforming Sovereign Hill into a moving theatre. 

Explore the stores along Main Street

Take a stroll down Main Street and explore the many stores and attractions, including the Criterion Drapery Store, New York Bakery, Jeweller, Sweet Shop, Grocer, Ballarat Times Printer, Hope Bakery, Blacksmith, Gold Bank, Post Office, Apotheceries Hall, Dark Room Photography, and more!

Children's playground

Sovereign Hill boasts a fantastic children's playground, which features a poppet head slide, gold rush shop fronts, a stunning Cobb & Co horse and coach statue, and more. The playground is set right alongside Sovereign Hill's modern cafe, and overlooks a gorgeous ornamental lake. 

Explore the gold rush tents and cottages

From canvas tents and bark huts on the diggings, to quaint weatherboard cottages along Speedwell Street, Sovereign Hill offers detailed insight into what life was like living in a gold rush town in the 1850s. 

Explore the various living quarters at Sovereign Hill and try to imagine life here in early Ballarat during the roaring gold rush days. 

Man, horse and steam powered mining technologies

One of the best things about Sovereign Hill is the opportunity to explore the many fascinating technologies of the gold rush. 

Man-powered windlasses and pumps are accompanied by a horse-powered whim, puddling machine, and Chilean mill. And of course, there's some incredible steam-powered winding, pumping, and crushing machinery on display.

The Sovereign Hill Lookout

Head up to the summit of Sovereign Hill and look down over the world-renowned goldfield along Golden Point's Main Road! 

Learn about the famous "jewellers shops" where miners were unearthing incredible amounts of alluvial gold, the method of using the lines of slate as an "Indicator" to find rich areas on quartz reefs, and a few of the most successful mining companies which operated on the goldfield below.

This lookout is located up behind Sovereign Hill, and can be accessed separately to Sovereign Hill itself. 



Established in 1980, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria is a voluntary body created to protect the rights and opportunities of those who wish to prospect, fossick or mine in the State of Victoria, Australia.

You can support the PMAV in their fight to uphold these rights by becoming a member. You'll also gain access to exclusive publications, field days, prospecting tips, discounts and competitions.

Check out the PMAV website for more information.




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