I first encountered close ties with the Australian Gold rush when I was in the historic New South Wales town of Gulgong where gold was discovered towards the end of the rush. Ballarat was there nearer the start with gold being found three miles to the north east of the town in 1851 and an influx of over 10,000 miners descended on the town. But not everything was sweet in Ballarat with events culminating in miners ultimately participating in the Eureka Stockade on 3 December 1854.
Ballarat still has many buildings serving from its gold rush era. The Gold Exchange being one particularly imposing building. However, as much as I would have liked to wander round the real town, I decided to head to Sovereign Hill and the reconstructed working gold mine town constructed in the 1960s and opened on 29 November 1970. Soverign Hill is amazing.
With reconstructed buildings and staff wandering round in costume, mine tours, Cobb & Co coaches much of what I’ve written about is brought to life. This is a high quality museum experience. Similarly, the adjoining Gold Museum is informative and fun to wander round looking at gold in many different forms.
One chunk of gold from Ballarat is of particular note is the Welcome Nugget. Found by a Cornish miner in 1858, and the second largest gold nugget in the world, it weighed 69 kg and was valued at £10,500 pounds when found.