Ballarat is situated on 113 kilometers west of the state capitol Melbourne; it is Victoria's largest inland city with population of approximately 90000 and is all about gold. In 1851, two gold-diggers found gold nuggets on the ground at a place popular as, the Poverty Point. Just within a year, about 20000 people had come into the area, and Australia’s El Dorado gold rush had started.
In 1858, a second large gold-chunk was found, but by 1860s, most of the precious metal was gone. Larger operators continued digging until 1918, but however by then Ballarat had developed industry to survive without the gold-mining. Today, one is still able to see the gold rush’s effects in the imposing buildings, erected from the miners’ fortunes, along Ballarat’s streets.
Australia’s best and most attractive outdoor museum gets one back to the 1850s and the heady days of the gold rush in the area. Over forty stone and wood reproduction edifices, including shops and businesses on Main Street, are found on the 25 hectare former gold-mining site. There are also tent camps around the diggings, which would have been the outskirts of town. There is a plenty to see and do here, so should spend at least four hours.
The site bustles with actors in costumes doing their daily business. Furthermore to see and feel how miners and their families once lived, visitors can pan for real gold, witness lessons in Victorian classrooms, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and see potters, blacksmiths, and tanners make their wares.
On top of Sovereign Hill is offered a captivating tour of a typical underground gold mine, which takes about forty-five minutes. The Voyage to Discovery museum exhibits artifacts from the gold rush, mining scenes, and interactive computer displays. A restaurant, several cafes, coffees, and souvenir stores are scattered around the site.
Blood on the Southern Cross
The eighty minutes evening presentation reproduce the Eureka Uprising - one of the most significant events in country’s history, in a fascinating sound-and-light show held on Sovereign Hill’s.
After gold was found, the government devised a system of licenses, charging miners a fee even if they dug up nothing. The miners started to corrupt gold-field police, and when license got higher-priced in 1854, even though most of the surface gold was gone, resentment begun. Gold-diggers started demanding political reforms, like the right to vote, parliamentary elections, and secret ballots. Finally, the situation exploded when the Eureka Hotel’s owner killed a miner but was set free by the government; the hotel was burned down in revenge, and over 20000 gold-diggers joined together, burned their licenses in a huge fire, and built a stockade with a rising flag. Troops arrived at the “Eureka Stockade” on the next month; however by then only about one hundred and fifty miners were still behind its walls. The stockade was attacked, 24 miners were killed and 30 wounded, but the civil uprising forced the government to replace licenses with “miner’s rights”, cheaper fees, and the vote was introduced to the state of Victoria.
Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka
Pictures of MADE generiously provided by www.made.org
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
After learning the story of Eureka you may find it interesting to come to the Fine Art Gallery and see the original Eureka flag. The gallery also keeps a collection of Australian art, including works by Fred Williams, Sydney Nolan and Russell Drysdale, Tom Roberts's Charcoal Burners and Phillip Fox's Love Story.
The Gold Museum - Ballarat
This attractive museum is home to a large collection of gold nuggets found at Ballarat, as well as alluvial deposits, various gold ornaments, and coins. There are also gallery displays relating to the history of gold mining in the region of Ballarat. One should spend around an hour to see the exhibits of the museum.
The town of Ballarat is on about 90 minutes drive from Melbourne on the Great Western Highway. V/Line has trains between the cities every day, which trip takes less than two hours, and a public bus links the Ballarat train station with the town centre. Also several companies offer day trips from Melbourne.
Please for Flights, Car-rental and other transportation bookings refer to the general Australia Transportation Reservations page.
Pictures by www.travelvictoria.com.au/ballarat/
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