Gold Rush

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April 4th 2014
Published: April 8th 2014
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After a farewell from Tasmania, we sailed from Devonport on March 31, and again experienced a smooth sailing as we headed north.

At 5:45am, we were awoken as the Captain brought us up to date with our arrival time and disembarkation instructions for Adelaide. A mistake, slip of the tongue maybe? Well, Adelaide was mentioned several times in the instructions leaving passengers scratching their heads and forcing open their bleary eyes. At the end of the announcement he gave the current time and date, 5:45 on 1 April 2014.

So we disembarked at Melbourne despite the earlier announcement and found our way back across the city (in the dark) to our camp ground.

We had 3 nights in Melbourne, but with the weather pretty average, we had a quiet time visiting the Botanical Gardens, Harbour Town and taking a famous Melbourne tram.

The Botanical Gardens are very beautiful, even on a showery day. Luckily, the worst rain coincided with lunch, so all was well.

If I understand the tram driver, the Melbourne network of trams is the largest in the world. They are heavily patronised as well. Just try getting on the free city circle tram!
A face from the gold rushA face from the gold rushA face from the gold rush

At the Gold Museum
Chocker all day.

Before we left home, we booked a visit to Sovereign Hill at Ballarat. This had been recommended to us by our son Michael some time back, and by several other friends. The entry fee buys a day pass, but the reality is that you need 1.5 days to really have a look at the park and the museum. Luckily, it is a case of buy one, get one free, so we did spend a second day at Sovereign Hill.

The park is a reconstruction of 1860s Ballarat and the Gold Rush era. Historically the presentation may be a little sanitised, but the concepts and very lowly basics of life are well portrayed.

There are many demonstrations throughout the day. Old trades like black smithing including making horse shoes that you can buy with your name stamped in. Do you know how boiled sweets are made and shaped? Another demo and you will see how a flat piece of metal is 'Spun' into the shape of a plate or bowl. Ever seen molten Gold? Watch as a gold ingot is poured, and discover just heavy a gold brick is.

Ever ridden in a horse drawn carriage? That is a popular choice. Ever been down into a real gold mine? We have and so can you and see how the mine shaft was worked 150 years ago.

There is an additional charge to attend the evening show, 'Blood on the Southern Cross'. This is the story of the Eureka Stockade. The show retells the story of struggle between a cash strapped government and the gold miners of Ballarat. The Govt thought they should get a slice of the profits, and the miners resented the way the monthly fees were charged for their license irrespective of any gold being found on the claim. The rest is interesting history.

If you are travelling in a fully self contained motor home or caravan, they will let you stay in the carpark overnight after the evening show. We made use of that, and saved a camp ground fee. Always ask permission, and you will be surprised how often you get the OK. Self contained means you have kitchen, toilet etc AND LEAVE NO WASTE on the site.

A visit to the Gold Museum (across the road from Sovereign Hill) and you will discover just how rich some of these miners became. The nuggets here were big and very high in quality. There is an interesting variety of items in the museum, particularly if you are a coin buff with gold coins from countries that you would not expect to mint precious metal coins.

In Australia's case, there were gold coins, but the bigger problem was that there were no small coins to give change when smaller items were purchased. So, many traders minted their own Tokens which became an unofficial currency for several years. There is an interesting display of these tokens currently at the museum supported with informative material.

Sovereign Hill is suitable for all ages to visit. They run special programs during the school holidays, and from time to time take special tours for disadvantaged children. On our day there, a special tour was put on for autistic children. From what we saw, this was well arranged and the children were enjoying their day at Sovereign Hill.

Ballarat is still a gold mining town with the shafts now 2,000 ft down. The rest of the city has a mix of old and modern buildings and seemed quite busy. We may revisit
Gnarled old treeGnarled old treeGnarled old tree

Melbourne Botanical Gardens
this area another time just to look at the historical buildings.

Having grown up in New Zealand where there are not many 'old' buildings, Australia gains interest in that respect. However, I was watching a TV program which included the foundations of a Roman Church in Colchester dating back around 2,000 years. Wow, structures of that age are amazing, and blow our minds down here in The Lucky Country. While there is a lot of archaeological finds from our Aboriginal people in Australia, building permanent structures was not part of their way of life. We do have caves and natural rock shelters with their artwork thought to be several thousand years old surviving, and that is equally important historically as the bricks and mortar in my view..

Additional photos below
Photos: 46, Displayed: 25


Gentle transportGentle transport
Gentle transport

Melbourne Botanical Gardens
Small Wattle BirdsSmall Wattle Birds
Small Wattle Birds

They wanted to share our lunch!
Standing Room OnlyStanding Room Only
Standing Room Only

Melbourne Tram
Main StreetMain Street
Main Street

Sovereign Hill
Cob & Co coachesCob & Co coaches
Cob & Co coaches

With stables through the arch.
Once upon a timeOnce upon a time
Once upon a time

We bought lollies from a shop like this. Here you still can!
Ready Made?Ready Made?
Ready Made?

That is pretty much the only way most mortals buy these days. Taylor Made suits - I think my last would have been 30 tears ago.
Transport from yesteryearTransport from yesteryear
Transport from yesteryear

Clydesdale horses are used here from time to time. Can you pick if one of these horses is a Clydesdale?

Anyone can pan for gold here.

9th April 2014

Enjoyed your effort in this blog. A pity you could not bring one of the nuggets home!
9th April 2014

well my friends ,did you find some gold?I agree with your parents that it is a pity you can't bring some home.Looks such an interesting place,am so glad you went.--Jakii

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