Sovereign Hill 5/6 Camp

The prospect of facing Ballarat in Winter was initially daunting, but we overcame any of these problems with an extra windcheater and water proof jackets.  The long trip to Sovereign Hill was made easier with a morning tea stop at Maddingley Park in Bacchus March.

Upon arrival our rooms were still being cleaned after the last group had used them and so we had a chance to tour Sovereign Hill and meet some of the characters wandering around to interact with the visitors.

The old style Bowling Alley captured our attention.  Some didn’t realise it was nine pins and not ten.

“Sir” took the Year 6s for a session in the Sovereign Hill Education Centre to give them a better appreciation of life on the Ballarat Goldfields in the early 1850s.

The Year 5s. had their education session on Day 1 with “Ma’am”.

Other schools on day trips or camps took up an opportunity to dress in period costuming and spend their time much like children would have on the Goldfields.

Red Coats on the march down Main Street added to the historical atmosphere.

We got to see how about $135,000 worth of gold is purified (99.9% or 24 carat) and poured into an ingot. 

The mine tour was a bit of an eye-opener regarding the conditions the miners had to endure.  This is their lunch room.  Only one half-hour break in a 12-hour shift and the ever-present dangers of flooding or collapsing tunnels.

The conditions within some miners’ tents on the diggings were better than others.  Still susceptible to the Ballarat winter weather, however.

Maddy, Kyle and Jahmayne got to dress up on the old style for one of the activities in the Education Centre.  Not sure if Maddy is happy about it.

Gold panning in the creek was enjoyable – but unfortunately not as profitable as we hoped.

After having a look in all the shops during Monday, on Tuesday the teachers allowed us to use our spending money.  As you’d expect, few of us had any money left on Wednesday.

In one of the Education Centre activities, students had the chance to create models of items of Goldfields technology.  Here, Lara, Jelena, Costa (partially hidden) and Nina display their gold mine wind sail.  This type of sail was used to trap the fresh air/wind and channel it down into the mine shaft for the benefit of anyone working down there.

There were always historical characters and entertainers wandering the streets – or just sitting down for a chat or to play instruments – who added marvellously to the re-creation of Ballarat Goldfields life.  Some are paid actors who work in the theatre in the evenings, but many are volunteers from the Ballarat Historical Society who want to ensure that Sovereign Hill is a rewarding experience for all visitors.

All good things must come to an end, they say.  After a visit to the Gold Museum and a self-guided walk through another mine, we had a chance to see how Sovereign Hill’s famous raspberry drop lollies were made.  The free sample was delicious. 

Just before getting on the bus for home, we learnt a great deal about candle making throughout history.  Candles used to be made from sheep fat (tallow), but are now made from parrafin. 

Our now-traditional final campers photo before heading back to school and home.  It was a great time at Sovereign Hill.  Thanks to the Le Page Staff who did so much to ensure it was such an enjoyable learning experience.