Living in the gold-rush times wasn’t all beer and skittles, and the latest multimillion-dollar underground exhibit at this colonial-era “living museum” tells the story of a mining disaster that struck in 1882. “Trapped” is a multisensory experience that tells a story of bravery, love, and loss. Ballarat’s history comes to life at Sovereign Hill, long described as Australia’s best outdoor museum, which transports you back to the 1850s and the heady days of the gold rush. More than 40 reproduction buildings, including shops and businesses on Main Street, sit on the 25-hectare (62-acre) former gold-mining site. There are also tent camps around the diggings on what would have been the outskirts of town. Sovereign Hill has a lot to see and do, so expect to spend at least 4 hours here. The township bustles with actors in period costumes going about their daily business. You can pan for real gold, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and watch potters, blacksmiths, and tanners make their wares. Don’t miss the gold pour at the smelting works, or the redcoats as they parade through the streets. On top of Sovereign Hill are the mine shafts and pithead equipment. The guided tour of a typical underground gold mine takes around 45 minutes and costs A$7.50 for adults, A$4 for children, and A$20 for a family of 6. A restaurant and several cafes and souvenir stores are scattered around the site.
- Frommer's Staff