We are so lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the world where there seem to be endless ways to entertain the children!! It’s no mean feat trying to keep everyone happy, all summer, but I’m pretty sure, this may be the answer to your prayers!!
This summer, Sovereign Hill is set to be busier than it’s been since the goldrush of the 1850’s. With brand new activities every day and the chance to win a $400 gold nugget every week, it feels like the gold rush is happening all over again! We cannot wait to get over to Sovereign Hill to experience some of the fun!
Each day of the week, for six weeks, a different adventure awaits. From ‘Make it Mondays’, to ‘Find it Fridays’, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
All of your favourite Sovereign Hill activities will also be on, including bowling, the gold pour, costume photos, as well as Sovereign Hill’s new sound and light show, AURA.
If you think you and the family would love to experience everything that’s on offer, you absolutely can!!!! Purchase a *Sovereign Hill Annual Pass, which provides you with unlimited entry to Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum, 364 days a year, as well as discounted mine tours, coach rides, and other special offers.
MAKE IT MONDAYS – Try your hand at butter churning and cheese making, make your own block candle or help us sew the Eureka Flag.
TROTTING TUESDAYS – Meet the Sovereign Hill horses, get your photo taken with a Clydesdale and watch our horse team change over the horses that pull the Sovereign Hill vehicles.
WHATS’ THAT WHISTLE WEDNESDAYS – Learn about steam engines, take a tour of some ruins and hear stories of child miners on the goldfields.
TRADE THURSDAYS – Watch rare trades in action, have a go at the traditional process of Cyanotype, go behind the scenes of the Sovereign Hill coach builders.
FIND IT FRIDAYS – Rush to the diggings for the chance to discover a $400 gold nugget, take a photo with the Australia nugget (worth over $85,000) and see a coin press machine in action.
SWEET SATURDAYS – Take a walk around lollipop lane, take a photo with a giant jar of Raspberry Drops and join an exclusive hands-on experience in Brown’s Confectionery.
SOLDIERING SUNDAYS – Dress as a redcoat and join their parade, learn a Trooper drill and watch on as a mass license hunt takes place in the Red Hill Gully Diggings.
All the info
What: Sovereign Hill’s Summer Gold Rush
When: 26th December, 2019 until 27th January, 2020
Time: 10am – 5pm
Where: Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat, 3350
*Sovereign Hill Annual Pass
Child (5–15 years) – only available when purchased with an Adult, Family or Single Family Ticket/Pass
Concession* (To be purchased as Adult Pass)
Family (2 Adults and up to 4 Children)
Single Adult Family (1 Adult and up to 3 Children)
Conditions: Annual Pass is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Current Annual Pass card and photo ID must be presented on each visit. This Annual Pass is not transferable. A surcharge may apply for entry to special events. Only the Annual Pass holder whose name is listed on this card is entitled to free entry to Sovereign Hill. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Discounts are not accumulative – only a single discount can be applied to purchases.
Extra charges apply for some activities and major events.
From where we were staying at La Pievuccia (Castiglion Fiorentino) it took us about 55 minutes to drive to Assisi. Once we’d left the motorway, we followed fields full of sunflowers, along winding, tree lined lanes, making our way toward what looked in the distance to be something from a film set. A beguiling destination that many a religious pilgrim has travelled to since the 13th century, in honour of St. Francis. The ancient town of Assisi is a sight to behold.
With it’s narrow streets, steep hills and stunning piazzas you could easily imagine you had stepped back in time whilst exploring Assisi. The views from every laneway are breathtaking, the little ornate doors on every building promising even more beauty behind.
You can’t visit Assisi without making your way to the vast Basilica di San Francesco complex, home to an unimaginable collection of medieval frescoes as well as the tomb of St. Francis.
The Basilica di San Francesco.
The Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi is named after St. Francis who was born here and founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208. UNESCO collectively designated the Franciscan structures of Assisi as a World Heritage Site in 2000, and it’s obvious why. This is absolutely the jewel in Assisi’s crown! The majestic Basilica has to be seen to be believed. The whole complex is magnificent.
The upper church – Basilica Superiore, is decorated with 28 frescoes by Giotto and are the stand out artistry in the church in my humble opinion. Each fresco depicts a scene from the life of St. Francis. They are stunning! It’s hard to believe these vibrant frescos were completed centuries ago, and almost incomprehensible for the kids!
The lower church – Basilica Inferiore, is home to more frescoes, this time by Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti, and Simone Martini. In the lower sanctuary is the Cripta di San Francesco – the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi.
The upper church definitely has a different ambience to the lower, undeniably more about the celebration of life. The lower rooms are darker and seemingly solemn, more of a reflection of the spirit of St.Francis and his Franciscan order. Note: There are plenty of worshippers and people who have obviously come here solely to pray, so it’s vital that visitors are respectful of that.
Whatever you plan for your day in Assisi, give yourself plenty of time to explore this incredible church. Take your time, breathe in your surroundings, and I promise you will be blown away!
According to the UN, the town of Assisi has a singular importance for its role in the diffusion of the Franciscan Order and for its “continuity of a city-sanctuary” from its Umbrian-Roman origins to today.
Top tip: Out of respect, you mustn’t take photographs or make too much noise inside the The Basilica di San Francesco.
Like most of Italy, Assisi has a long history of local artisans. You can see throughout the town that many are still going strong today. **Save your holiday money and spend it on local crafts. There is plenty for the kids to buy too, so make sure you set their budget before going!
Small delicatessens are bursting with regional specialties like local cured meats, dried pasta. Umbrian chocolates are a MUST. We spent a whole day wandering the lanes of Assisi, making our way in and out of beautiful churches, and of course eating our way through some of Italy’s finest nougat, gelato and cakes. Even with young children, Assisi is an easy and ‘must do’ day trip.
Note: Your shoulders must be covered in The Basilica di San Francesco
The town of Assisi is spotlessly clean, and filled with many cafes and restaurants for when you need refreshment. Make sure you find out what the restaurant cover charge is, as it can be really pricey to sit and eat in some places. We visited in September, which I imagine was one of the quieter times of year, yet it was still hard to get a seat in the restaurants, without a huge surcharge.
Top tip: No matter what, stay in town for an early supper and watch the sun set, overlooking the valley.
I highly recommend Assisi, not only for the incredible scenery, but also for a huge learning experience for all ages. This is a place steeped in incredible history, which you can feel with every step you take.
Other highlights in Assisi
Rocca Maggiore – a 12th-century fortress perched high in the hills, and the Roman Temple of Minerva and Roman Forum. The Rocca Maggiore is a majestic castle which dominated, for more than 800 years the citadel of Assisi and the valley of Tescio, constituting the most viable fortification for their defence.
Duomo di San Rufino – The San Rufino Cathedral or simply Assisi Cathedral is a favourite spot among pilgrims due to its connection to St. Francis’ life.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva –Not to be confused with the church of the same name in Rome, this church is built inside a converted 1st century BC temple dedicated to the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva.
Santa Maria degli Angeli- St. Mary of the Angels is a 16th-century, domed church located about 2.5 miles down the hill from Assisi. We drove down and parked very easily. This Basilica is most famous for being home to the Porziuncola, a tiny stone building believed to be the home of St. Francis and his followers. Today the Porziuncola is a small church on the inside of Santa Maria degli Angeli with qeues of devout Catholics waiting to get inside and say their prayers. This incredibly ornate building is thought to be the house where St. Francis founded the Franciscan order and also where he died. This church is not only a must see for the devout and for pilgrims but also anyone with an interest in history and history of the Catholic church.
Fun fact: the Porzuincola isn’t the only building within a building owned by the Catholic Church. The Holy House of Loreto is a structure that was brought to Italy, with some difficulty, all the way from Jerusalem because it was thought to be the house of the Virgin Mary. Like the Porziuncola, it’s a major pilgrimage site.
Spot : The gold-plated statue of the Madonna degli Angeli (“Madonna of the Angels”), will watch over you as you enter the square.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit Assisi, make sure you do your research online beforehand. There are many religious festivals, which increase visitor numbers hugely.
Flights – We flew Royal Brunei from Melbourne to London (approx. $4,500 for us all), then British Airways, London Heathrow to Bologna (approx. £500 for us all). Flights to Italy were hard to come by as we left it fairly close to lift off before we booked. We checked our luggage in when we left Melbourne, and it went all the way through to Bologna which was awesome, and saved us the hassle of checking in again!
Drive – We hired a car with Budget/Avis and collected it at Bologna airport. We drove from our Farm Stay in Castiglion Fiorentino which was a little under an hour away from Assisi.
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – St. Francis of Assisi
The NVG Winter Masterpieces this year is a sight to behold and one for the whole family to see. Not only does this incredibly well curated exhibition house 8 Terracotta Warriors, it is also home to approximately 170 pieces of stunning work, old and new.
The Terracotta Warriors are often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, and The National Gallery of Victoria has brought them to Melbourne, so that we can see them, close up. This is honestly, not to be missed!
Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, presented in parallel with Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality has just opened in Melbourne, and is running until 13 October, 2019.
Arguably the world’s most exciting contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang’s features his brand new masterpieces, created using gunpowder! The videos of how this was achieved are fascinating, and the children are guaranteed to love the theatre of it all.
‘Using gunpowder brings me closer to nature and even the universe. Of course at the moment of ignition the explosion is instantaneous… but gunpowder has its origins in minerals that took hundreds, thousands or millions of years to form.’– Cai Guo-Qiang
As if the gunpowder creations and the Terracotta Warriors aren’t enough to thrill, Cai Guo-Qiang has created 10,000 porcelain birds, each one suspended from the ceiling as if mid flight. These birds have been created solely for this exhibition. This monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. It is a sight to behold!
As with many of the NGV’s exhibitions this is absolutely a child friendly one! Alongside the exhibits you will see detailed explanations specifically targeted at a younger audience. Perfect for all budding art lovers!
Whether you’re a seasoned visitor or a Ballarat Gold Fields virgin, you’ll want to get all over their Easter Holiday fun!
We’ve been informed that the blacksmith needs a new apprentice, there are animals to be fed and Brown’s Confectionery Manufactory have lollies that can’t make themselves! You and the children better rush up there and get to work!
This Easter holidays, between Sat 6th April and Mon 22nd April, Sovereign Hill are exploring the working life of the goldfields. Relive history and discover the lost trades with a range of exclusive workshops and free events that will transport you and the kids back to the busy goldfields of Ballarat. Genuinely a fascinating day out for all ages!
Here is a list of the fun you and the gang can get involved in:
Pour your own Candle: Become a candlemaker at Hewett’s Candle Works and learn how to make your very own candle. Hear about the secrets of good candle making, and let Sovereign Hill’s experienced candlemakers guide you through the process. You get to take a candle home too!!
Make your own rope: Using traditional methods, try making a rope, and then see if you can turn your rope into quoits. Will you beat Sovereign Hill’s champions at a game? We hope so!!
Become a Blacksmith: Join Sovereign Hill’s talented Blacksmiths and try your hand at forging. You’ll all be taken through the basics of blacksmithing and learn about the history of this trade on the Ballarat goldfields. A great story to take back to school after the holidays!
Where did photography come from? Come and see a ‘camera obscura’ and learn how the romance with the captured image began. Sovereign Hill’s photographers will give you an enlightening insight into how images were created and how cameras evolved over time. This is a mind blowing for the modern day child!
Sweet Experience: Brown’s Confectionery Factory is hiring! You’ll have to get your uniforms on and help Sovereign Hill make some butterscotch lollies. Smell, touch, and roll your own lollies while learning about the sweet treats of the goldfields.
Spokes and Wheels: Watch the talented wheelwrights machine and assemble the components of a wooden wheel using the latest in 1800s wheel making technology. Then try finishing your own spoke with hand held tools.
Belt making: Back in the 1800s, everything was made by hand and even the simplest piece of clothing had a story to tell. Go back in time and join Sovereign Hill to craft your own belt using traditional methods at Sovereign Hill’s leather harness workshop.
See, we told you… there’s no way you’re going to find yourselves at a loose end this Easter! More fun to come in the next few days!! Keep it here!
The Lost Trades program will run from Saturday 6th April until Monday 22nd April, 2019.
**Many of the Lost Trade workshops need to be pre-booked, so to find out more, or to make a booking, visit www.thestoryliveson.com.au