History

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill is Ballarat's throwback to the days of yore when the gold rush was still in full swing and the region's whole economy was dependent on the number of prospectors who used to come in droves hoping to strike it rich.

The gold rush started in August 21, 1851 when James Dunlop and James Reagan discovered gold at the base of a hill located just a couple of hundred metres from Sovereign Hill. Eight years later, a group of twenty-two Cornish miners would uncover what would later be known as the Welcome Nugget-the second largest nugget in the world. This 68.89 kg nugget is said to be made up of 68.272 kilograms of pure gold; 99% of its total mass. Today, the Welcome Nugget is priced at almost $3 million.

The latest in a long line of gold discovered in the area is a 3.66kg gold nugget named Destiny found in Ballarat in July 2012 by three unnamed prospectors. The Destiny nugget is valued at $500,000 and is currently on display in Sovereign Hill. The discovery of the Destiny nugget proves that there is still gold to be found in the area.

The sprawling 25-hectare open air museum is home to over 60 historically accurate buildings, complete with costumed personnel eager to entertain visitors with tales of how life was in the 1800s and how things have changed since then.

Gold diggings, creeks, tents, buildings, a museum, mines, and a wide variety of shops are only some of the many attractions awaiting tourists who come to visit. A 90 minute lights and sound show called Blood on the Southern Cross depicting the Eureka Stockade in 1854 serves cap off the whole Sovereign Hill experience.

The idea for Sovereign Hill was conceptualized in the 1960s as a means to preserve and recreate the historic buildings and gold diggings of the era. The open air museum officially opened its doors on 29 November 1970 and has been entertaining visitors ever since.

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