Victorian dispatch - Sovereign Hill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ballarat-mothers OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a pivotal moment in time for Victoria. In 1851, gold was discovered in the area we now know as Ballarat. Thousands of adventurers and risk-takers rushed to the region and turned the muddy goldfields into a bustling town, all-but overnight. Within two years, there were more than 20,000 miners of countless nationalities working on the field. Visit Ballarat today and you can still see grand Victorian architecture everywhere, all built on gold. (Not literally you understand. At least probably not).

And just around the corner you will find Sovereign Hill, a place that recreates the atmosphere and events that existed in the 10 years following that momentous first discovery of gold.

I love a good historical tourist-attraction, I really do.

{Side note: when I was little I loved to visit Old Sydney Town and imagine myself travelling back in time. There was a "Time Tunnel" that you walked through to get from the place where you bought the tickets to the actual town. Eight-year-old Naomi harboured fantasies that she could do this MUCH better. For example, I would have built the Time Tunnel so that you couldn't see one end from the other. And I would have had swirling coloured lights (something like the ones on the cover of 'A Wrinkle in Time' which I was totally into at the time) throughout, deliberately creating a disorienting experience as you walked through the tunnel. Half way into the Time Tunnel, when you could no longer see the entry or exit points, there would be change rooms and the biggest dress-up box you had ever seen, with enough clothes to fit everyone. And you would have to get changed into period costume so that when you emerged in Old Sydney Town, you and everyone around you would look the part. That way, nobody (let alone a very romantically-minded eight-year-old girl), would need to suspend their disbelief. Pretty cool huh?}

Back to Ballarat...

At some point during Primary School, everyone in Australia learns about the Eureka Stockade, which happened on the Ballarat goldfields in 1854. It was a rebellion, and the most significant of its kind in Victoria's history. The rebels objected to the imposition of a Miner's License, an exorbitant form of taxation on their gold findings, and at least 28 men died, with many more wounded. It was a classic (and in this case tragic) Australian story of the common man standing up against an abuse of authority, despite the odds and regardless of the consequences.

So this is Sovereign Hill, circa last Saturday:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the handy things about being the mother of a toddler is that you can go to these kinds of places and pretend you are doing it for your child, when really it is all about you.

Actually Madeleine could not have cared less about where we were or the cool costumes people were wearing or the historical significance of the town. Her key interests were: climbing up and down muddy steps; looking at turkeys in a sheep paddock; imitating the calls of the crows flying above us; licking my toffee-apple and then smearing sticky, red, stains all over her face. Most of these (minus the turkeys in the sheep paddock) we could have done at home, without the entry fee.

We tried to interest Madeleine in panning for gold, but she was more interested in walking at top speed into the creek, completely oblivious to her inability to swim or the sudden-return-to-winter climate of the day.

For my part, I loved the whole shebang. In particular, the toffee apple was the first I'd had since I was about 10. It was really REALLY good. Better than I remembered the toffee apples of my childhood being. And I went home with a red, sticky face, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJunior fashion notes: Madeleine's adorable, furry vest was a gift from Target Australia. I must thank them (again) because it kept her warm and cosy on a very cold day, she LOVED wearing it, and I think she looked cute as pie in it, especially when teamed with skinny jeans and little love-heart sneakers (also from Target, purchased by me).

Please don't blame me for the non-matching hat (knitted by a kind volunteer at Mr B's work). Madeleine loves her hats, and she chose that one all by herself before we left the house.

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