Sunday, March 27, 2011


We started our next trip by picking up a campervan and driving about an hour northwest of Melbourne to the city of Ballarat. 

Ballarat is at the heart of Victoria's goldfields, with alluvial gold discovered at nearby Poverty Point in 1851.  The subsequent goldrush brought thousands of people to the area, including many American veterans of the California goldrush.  Millions of dollars of gold was discovered transforming the town with gorgeous Victorian architecture which still survives.  The city continues to be an important inland regional area.

The Eureka Rebellion occurred nearby when miners refused to pay exorbitant licensing fees without voting rights and representation.  It was the only episode of white armed rebellion in Australia's history and is viewed as an important step in Australia's democracy.  Unfortunately, the stockade was closed for renovation.

Hoping to pay for our trip!

We visited Sovereign Hill (hat tip, Paul Q!), an open air museum recreating an 1850s gold mining settlement.  The site sits on 25 hectares of a former gold mining site and contains over 70 recreated buildings.  It explores life in the camps and the position of Chinese immigrant miners.  There are people in period dress demonstrating the different mining equipment and related operations.  Nearby was the related Gold Museum which houses early photographs of the area and several actual and recreated large gold nuggets.  Overall, a very enjoyable day!
Blacksmith making a gold pour

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