Sovereign Hill

A school excursion to Sovereign Hill gives your students one of the best ‘gold-rush era’ experiences available in Australia. This internationally renowned attraction is an open-air museum replicating the Ballarat goldfields as they were in the 1850’s.

Sovereign Hill

General Activities

A day at Sovereign Hill is a day filled with fun and adventure. Discover all the action and excitement of life as it was in 1850s Ballarat during the greatest alluvial gold rush the world has ever seen.

Sovereign Hill is a living museum with working exhibits brought to life by costumed characters and over 40 horses. Set on 25 acres of an original mining site, Sovereign Hill is a goldfields town with shops, hotels, a theatre, schools, factories, a gold diggings and underground mines to explore.

Using the Sovereign Hill visitors map and timetable for the many shows and demonstrations, school groups can explore the town at their leisure, supervised by teachers and parent-helpers. Some activities must be pre-booked while others can be visited at any time.

Travel by tramway deep underground and experience life as a miner. You will be taken into the dark depths of the Sovereign Hill Quartz Mine and guided through a maze of tunnels. There in the cool darkness, you will visit the crib cuddy, meet the ‘Widow Maker’ and hear tales of untold riches.

Visit the Gold smelting works for an entertaining demonstration showing the processing of gold from discovery to the pouring of a spectacular gold ingot. At the Wheelwright and Coachbuilder shed, students watch skilled craftsmen make a hub and spokes and then assemble a coach wheel.

Watch the tinsmith at work making domestic items such as baking trays, scone and biscuit cutters, candleholders and lanterns. At the foundry students will see how metal household wares and even gold-pans were made. Ride in a Cobb and Co coach and imagine being held up by bushrangers.

See 19th century candle making machines in action at the Candle Works. Watch confectioners use original equipment and processes to make traditional boiled lollies. Visit the Apothecary – the chemist of the gold-rush era. The apothecary shop displays medical equipment and has a doctor’s surgery and herbal soaps, lotions, remedies and hairbrushes are all for sale. Buy a postcard and send it off with Sovereign Hill’s own postmark at the Sovereign Hill Post Office. There are plenty of souvenirs to choose from as a memento of your Sovereign Hill visit!

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Facilitated Programs

Fantastic facilitated programs and guided mine tours enhance learning outcomes for different age groups. Here’s a sample of some of the programs on offer for your students.

Living in The Past

Students experience aspects of daily life 150 years ago and compare their lives with those of goldfields children. Choose a focus: domestic duties, school or sustainable living.

Gold Rush Immigration

Yrs 3 – 6: Students explore the stories of gold rush immigrant and discover their reasons for coming and the legacies they left behind.

Chinese on the Goldfields

Yrs 3 – 6: Students experience aspects of 19th century Chinese culture and discuss the discrimination faced by the Chinese Diggers who came to Victoria.

Put Yourself in the Eureka Story

Yrs 3 – 6: By dressing up as characters in the Eureka story and using Museum exhibits to create pictures of the key events of Eureka, students can make a book or slideshow at school. *Digital Camera required.

Gold Fever

Yrs 5 – 6: Students join the ‘rush’ to One Eye Gully. By re-living the highs and lows of gold fever and role-playing the varied experiences of the diggers, gold buyers and troopers, they experience the frustrations that led to Eureka.

Goldfields Technology

Yrs 5 – 6: Students design and build a model to solve a real goldfields problem and explore simple machines. (90 minute session. $2 per student)

Tales from the Putrid Past

Yrs 5 – 6: Maggoty meat, smelly sewage, uncomfortable underwear and deadly diseases … believe it or not!

The Anti Chinese League

Yrs 5 – 10: An immersion in racial attitudes on the goldfields through a powerful and confronting play. Followed by an opportunity to debrief and explore the issues raised.

Eureka and Australian Democracy

Yrs 7 – 10: Students explore what drove the diggers to rebel against the government in 1854. They learn about the key figures and events in the campaign for justice and consider the significance of this uprising.

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done

Yrs 7 – 10: Students learn about the limited career options for girls in the 1850s. They dress as poor Irish girls and work in the cottages to live as servants. ($3 per student)

Facilitated ProgramsFacilitated Programs

Blood on the Southern Cross

Blood on the Southern Cross is Sovereign Hill’s night-time show. In an exciting sound and light spectacular it tells the story of the events surrounding the storming of the Eureka Rebellion, a dramatic battle between gold miners and Government forces at Ballarat on 3 December, 1854. It is suitable for students from Year 4 upwards.

Experience the miners’ disgust at unfair gold taxes and witness the dramatic burning of the Eureka Hotel. Then, listen to Governor Hotham’s reasoning for a dawn attack on a band of men who were the first to swear an oath of loyalty on Australian soil to a flag that was not British – the flag of the Southern Cross.

Set under the night skies at Sovereign Hill, ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ involves no actors – just voices, dazzling sound-and-light effects and a stunning open-air set. Visitors travel across the site on a comfortable transporter and view much of the action from the re-created Free Trade Hotel on the Eureka Diggings.

The Gold Museum

The Gold Museum extends Sovereign Hill’s story of Ballarat – a majestic provincial city built on the wealth derived from the great Australian gold rushes of the 1850s. Discover the beauty and power of gold as you view an impressive and valuable collection of gold nuggets, alluvial deposits, priceless gold artefacts and gold coins.

‘Ballarat: Inspired by Gold’ is a major exhibition presenting the story of Ballarat from its earliest days through to European settlement and the amazing impact of the gold rushes.


If you are able to book at least two years in advance, there is great accommodation on-site at Sovereign Hill for school groups. The very popular Comfort Inn at Sovereign Hill provides over 200 beds for students but due to its location and popularity it must be booked well in advance.

Alternatively there are other accommodation options in the township of Ballarat and our friendly team are happy to chat with you about accommodation options.