15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign HillSovereign Hill is, without question, Australia’s best outdoor museum and, without need of any incarnation of the venerable Dr Who or his Tardis, takes families travelling back through time to Ballarat’s gold rush era.

Spread over 25 hectares of the original alluvial goldfields, the recreation gold rush town brings the decade after the discovery of gold in Ballarat in 1851 back to life. Best of all it is the kind of living museum that kids will never tire of exploring, because it provides visitors with not only a day of education but of adventure and solid gold family fun.

Here are our top 15 reasons to (gold)rush to Sovereign Hill with kids.

1. They can ride a horse drawn coach

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill
Tour the town, mines and diggings form the comfort of a coach, pulled by the handsome Sovereign Hill Draft Horses. It’s a great place to start your day to get your bearings and find out where all the main attractions are located.

2.  They can go to school

The Story Lives on at Sovereign Hill

OK, while that may not be high on many kids’ weekend or school holiday to do list, once they realise it is school 1850’s style, curiosity is sure to get the better of them. They can enjoy a lesson in cursive handwriting with quill and ink, and gain an insight into schooling in the 1850’s and how learning was a privilege for kids of the goldfields.

3. They can play dress ups

15 great things to do at Sovereign Hill with kids

One of the first things you’ll notice when you step into Sovereign Hill is the incredible costumes. They’re on everyone from store keepers and families to miners and troopers, and their authenticity really sets the scene for life on the goldfields. So of course, your kids are going to want to join in on the fun. Just head to Sovereign HIll’s Photography Rooms to don Victorian gold rush gear for a family snap to remember.

4. They can strike it rich(ish)

Kids panning for gold at family friendly Sovereign HIll
One of the best things to do in Sovereign Hill with kids is to grab a shovel and a pan to get down and dirty in search of real gold at the Red Hill Gully Diggings. There are miners on hand to show them how it is done and it is ‘finders keepers’. It’s worth noting though that the exercise is addictive and, if your kids are anything like mine, you’ll struggle to wrench your gold fever infected little ones away for the next adventure.

5. They can go underground

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill - go underground

Take a self-guided underground tour or board a mine car for a fully guided Sovereign Hill Gold Mine Tour through the darkness and down deep into the mines. Note: Claustrophobic mamas might like to give this one a miss.

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

Which may also be why there are no pics because I may have stayed at the top twiddling my thumbs while our fab guide Andre, pictured here, took Raffles and Sugarpuff on the allegedly “awesome” tour.

6. They can see what $160,000 looks like

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill
The kids can watch $160,000 worth of boiling, liquid gold being turned into a gold ingot by the blacksmith at Sovereign HIll’s Gold Smelting Works. Forget trying to pilfer the riches as said ingot weighs an absolute ton, and will be quickly locked away in a bullet proof case.

7. They can marvel at antique machinery

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

With Sovereign HIll’s emphasis on working machinery, kids who like to see how things work can watch steam-driven devices in action and chat with skillful tradesmen as they build and create wheels, metal spinning or observe quartz mine surface operations.

Things to do at Sovereign Hill with kids

There is more basic horse and man power driven machinery around the diggings, where the kids can get hands on and use a little muscle of their own.

8. They can get crafty

Kids can visit Sovereign Hill’s cool Candle Works where they can witness 19th century candle making machines hard at work.

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill - go underground - candle dipping

Or, if they’re anything like mine, they might prefer to buy and dip their very own rainbow-hued candles to take home.

9. They can meet cool characters

Young boy playing guitar with old time performers at Sovereign Hill
You’ll find musicians belting out ye olde ditties (and the odd Green Day tune if Raff gets involved) on street corners. There are miners at the digging. Ladies and gentlemen roaming the streets. And even Red Coat Troopers who march into main street to fire their muskets.

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

Around every corner and down every alleyway, opportunities abound to meet, interact and share a laugh with Sovereign HiIl’s many characters.

10. They can bowl

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill
Head to Sovereign Hill’s Empire Bowling Saloon for the kids to test their skills at 9-pin bowling. A traditional German game, there are three skinny timber lanes from which the kids can hurl a heavy timber ball to knock over the pins.

11. They can fill their bellies with traditional treats

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill - The Food

There are several spots to eat at Sovereign Hill, but the kids’ favourite was The Hope Bakery where we filled up on amazing pasties and sausage rolls straight from a traditional wood-fired oven. The Lamb and rosemary daily special was particularly good, and Sugarpuff declared her traditional Sausage roll a winner too. We may or may not have gone back later to stock up on gingerbread. Oh, ok, and a couple of homemade wagon wheels and meringues.

12. They can satisfy their sweet tooth

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

At Sovereign Hill’s resident candy maker, Brown’s confectionary, the kids can watch boiled candy being created from scratch through a set of big glass windows. Be sure to wait until the end to try one of the still warm lollies and to grab a bag of the irresistible raspberry drops, lollipops  or a fresh made toffee apple.

13. They can experience the Eureka Uprising

Photo courtesy of Sovereign Hill
The Story lives on at Sovereign Hill with Blood on the Southern Cross transforming the entire park into an explosive and immersive sound-and-light show. The night time spectacular shares the story of the people of the of the Eureka Uprising, a dramatic battle between gold miners and Government forces at Ballarat, with participants ferried through the night in custom-designed transporters to enjoy the spectacular show. Blood on the Southern Cross is one of the most breathtaking and educational experiences at Sovereign Hill with kids and not to be missed.

14. They can stay the night

15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill
The Sovereign Hill Hotel is just a 30 second walk from all the 1850’s action. Not only do the comfy family rooms sleep up to six, they dish up a splendid breakfast, so you’ll be ready to start your day of gold rush adventures right. I’d highly recommend packaging it up for any family planning to stay late for Blood on the Southern Cross. Not only will you enjoy a two-course dinner at the Charlie Napier Hotel or the New York Bakery in Sovereign Hill’s Main Street, but the hotel’s close proximity means you can have the kids in bed as soon as the show finishes. Even better if you have to lug them, like I did a snoozy Sugarpuff.

15. They can get Appy

Venture into the goldfields with Sovereign Hill’s Gold Seekers app. Download the app from the Apple or Android App Stores to go on a journey down one of three Sovereign Hill trails (including one for visitors with limited mobility) with access to stories, facts, images and film along the way. Speaking of film, make sure you introduce your kids to what life would have been for them in 1850s Ballarat by watching short film, The Bounty, here  or you can watch the short film of our own Sovereign Hill story, below.


Disclosure: Our experience of Sovereign Hill with kids was hosted, but as always, all opinions, movie making, gold digging and ye olde world antics are our own.

20 Comments on 15 reasons to rush your kids to Sovereign Hill

  1. Elena
    October 16, 2017 at 11:27 am (3 years ago)

    Love the old time vibes of your video and raffles guitar playing

      October 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm (3 years ago)

      Hehe.Who knew Green Day were around in 1850? LOLOL

  2. Michelle (inthegoodbooksblog)
    October 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm (3 years ago)

    We have been to Sovereign Hill on a few occasions and always enjoy our time there. It’s a great place to visit with the family

      October 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm (3 years ago)

      It’s definitely worth repeat visits

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    October 16, 2017 at 7:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I used to love places like this as a kid! They’re so immersive, especially when you get to dress up too!

      October 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm (3 years ago)

      THey’re pretty fun when you’r grown up too

  4. Kerrie
    October 17, 2017 at 11:18 am (3 years ago)

    We visited Sovereign Hill a couple of years ago and the kids absolutely loved it!’ My son still has the “gold” he found, thinks it’s going to make him rich!

      October 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm (3 years ago)

      Ye, my kids think their 3 cents worth of gold has them set up for life LOL

  5. stuntman
    October 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm (3 years ago)

    Great video at the end there. “I love gold!”

      October 17, 2017 at 1:38 pm (3 years ago)

      Hehe! She certainly does

  6. Abigail Sinsona
    October 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm (3 years ago)

    This is such a cool experience and destination! I am sure the kids would love this indeed. It is not a common destination to bring the kids to, but so fun!

  7. Marvi
    October 18, 2017 at 1:32 am (3 years ago)

    Sovereign Hill does sound like a great place to take the kids! 🙂 Interactive activities like this make learning so much fun… Kudos to your kids for going underground. I, too, would’ve taken a rain check as I am pretty claustrophobic.

  8. Anthony Jury
    October 19, 2017 at 10:58 pm (3 years ago)

    Good old Sovereign Hill, so many happy memories at that place and seeing your post I miss it even more.
    Here is a little fun fact, I actually did 2 days of school at Sovereign Hill back in the early 90’s when I was living in Ballarat, got dressed up in traditional clothing, forced to write right handed (I am a lefty) and threatened the cane every time that fountain pen ventured to my left. All in good fun of course.
    Great post.

  9. Oursweetadventures
    October 20, 2017 at 2:24 am (3 years ago)

    This sounds and looks like a great place for kids to do a day trip. Lots of amazing things for them to learn about. I like the different machines they have to echo back to the 1850’s so that we can really see how life was.

  10. Taiss Together To Wherever
    October 20, 2017 at 10:47 am (3 years ago)

    That sounds like a fun day! I love that they can go down in the mines and make candles! I think even as an adult I would enjoy this place because of how interactive it is! I can imagine kids leave learning a lot, too!

  11. Madhurima Maiti
    October 23, 2017 at 2:30 am (3 years ago)

    I haven’t visited Sovereign Hill yet and it just seems so much fun. It’s such a great place to visit with family. Loved the old world charms. Recommending it for my friends’ kids. Thanks for the post 🙂

  12. Anita
    October 23, 2017 at 5:47 am (3 years ago)

    I am impressed by Sovereign Hill with so many historical things to experience in action. To me, it seems that adults can have fun there too. What do you think? Thanks for sharing!

  13. Bruce Schinkel
    October 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm (3 years ago)

    This place looks like exactly the sort of place I’d love to visit. Whenever we can step back in time and learn from our past it makes for a fun day for kids of all ages 🙂

  14. Suma
    October 24, 2017 at 10:00 pm (3 years ago)

    I have to say this is a kind of place even a grown-up like me would enjoy. The activities seem so much fun, I can see that the kids had an amazing time here.The Sovereign Hill is such a treat for people who would enjoy a peek into the rich history of Australia. Definitely one of the best outdoors museums I have come across, it is filled with old world charm and interesting details.

  15. My Travelogue by Bhushavali
    October 28, 2017 at 8:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow! That seems to be the perfect place to take the kids. So much fun and so many things to learn & do. Little kids dressing up in retro clothing is so so cute!


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                                                                                           Hey,  I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s culture and cuisine on a junior food safari.

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