Sovereign Hill Ballarat

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A recreated gold rush town depicting the first ten years of the Victoria Gold Rush which began for Ballarat it 1851.   The school children are on their Christmas /Summer vacation and where better to spend it than where it all began for Victoria - panning for gold

All aboard for the Victoria Gold Rush Chinese miners wife prepares food
The Ballarat goldfields alone had around 25,000 diggers and support people, 40% of them Chinese.  They were not treated well, beginning with a massive $10 head tax at port of arrival, for which the Victorian government issued a public apology in 2017
More comfortable tent accommodations   Military Officers Quarters Miners Camp
Basic wood miners dwelling with canvas roof Interior of a miners one room wood house
It could take the prospective gold miner a year or so to reach the goldfields from Europe.   He would start out in a very basic tent then hopefully graduate to the wooden house before his family joined him.   Mother, Father and several children would all occupy their single room home
There are 50 working horses on site this one is operating a puddling machine
 Puddling breaks up the stiff clay dug from the mines.  It was then put into a circular trough along with water and stirred by a horse pulling a rake.  This allowed the heavy gold particles to sink to the bottom.  The water was drained and the remaining stones and gold was either panned, cradled or sluiced to sort the gold from the stones.  The machines were usually owner operated and miners would bring their dirt to him for processing

We went down this recreated mine in the roles of nine year old boys being introduced to their new working conditions below ground.  Along with the dark cramped and wet conditions went a very convincing sound track and a back projection image of the discovery of the Welcome Nugget, at the time the single largest ever found

 

According to Legend:  The proprietors of the digging were out to lunch when the hired man left digging with a pickaxe, struck something.   He dug around it to see what it was and fainted.  Returning and believing him dead, one of their number rolled him over and he too promptly fainted.  Both were dragged out while the rest frantically uncovered the partially exposed nugget

A bit of poetic license here, it was actually discovered by a crew of 22 former Cornish tin miners, those devilish makers of pasties but it was discovered in Ballarat in 1858.    It weighed 66kg and was worth 9.325 pounds sterling, 3-4 million in today's money.  Unfortunately it came to an ignominious end the following year when the Royal Mint in London turned it into legal tender as gold sovereigns

 

Smelting Demonstration.  $100,000 worth of gold was melted and poured into a mould then plunged into freezing water where it cooled in moments

Tony and the guy with the steam ticket

The machinist

The stoker

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