Sovereign Hill: In which we go for the gold!

September 9, 2013 in Australia, Oceania, Travelogue

Sovereign Hill

The good news: We struck gold!

The bad news: Elisha got caught bribing a police officer.

In other news: the younger two bought the leather hats they’ve been shopping for since we hit the ground. Hannah swam in some music. We played an antique version of nine pin bowling, saw how carriage wheels are put together, climbed down into a gold mine, examined old printing presses, saw candles hand dipped, watched a gold bar worth 160,000 Australian dollars melted and poured, and heard stories of the discoveries made in the mines beneath Ballarat. We saw a replica of the two biggest gold nuggets ever found (both from here in Victoria) and were regaled with stories of boom or bust, and rowdy gold rush fever from men who made you believe they’d really been there.

The living history museum of Sovereign Hill, at Ballarat, hosted us for the day and we came away wowed. It is, hands down, the best museum of its kind that we’ve ever been to, and we’re kind of junkies for these things. We’ve visited Plimoth Plantation and Conner Prairie, in the USA, Fort Henry, in Canada, the Friedland Museum in Germany, the Tower of London, in the UK, among others. This one is the best. We arrived early and stayed until they kicked us out; even an afternoon rain didn’t put a damper on the fun. The boys left begging for just “one more go” at panning for gold.

Sovereign Hill

The two most important lessons learned:

Team work pays off. The boys decided that, should they ever find themselves in the old gold rush era, that the thing to do would be to join forces with one another and out mine everyone else in their “band of brothers” fashion. The evidence: they collected far more gold than the poor single children working the banks of the river.

The Catholic church could be improved by putting in a sweets shop in the narthex. Ezra was more than a little confused as we were all rushing toward the confectionary for the 2:30 p.m. demonstration. We’d had a sample of their raspberry lolly earlier and the big kids weren’t about to miss the opportunity for a second.

“Why are we going to THIS?” Ez was wondering aloud as we hurried him along.

“For the candy! Don’t you want to see how they made candy in the old days?” Someone replied.

“Wait… they have candy??”

“YES! It’s a confectionary!!!”

“Ooooh…. a “confectionary?” That means candy? I thought it was that thing they do at a Catholic church… in the box…”

“A confessional???”

Hilarity ensued. Ezra’s enthusiasm was buoyed. His vocabulary lesson was reinforced with a lolly. All was right in the world.

As to the small incident with bribing law enforcement, you needn’t worry. Elisha was just busting out his third world skills on the seemingly shady character, and it worked! He did not end up in stocks. He got off scott free, his belief that everything is negotiable was reinforced by the moral flexibility of the officer… or actor… or whomever.

We took some pictures and some video for you…

Sovereign Hill-gold

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Sovereign Hill-music

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Sovereign Hill