I have fond memories of panning for gold as a 7 year-old kid at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. My sister and I were both convinced we were going to find the next big nugget.

Fast forward 35 years and I felt like I’d gone full circle watching my two little men with high hopes panning for gold in the stream that run through the incredibly realistic town of Sovereign Hill.

Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, Sovereign Hill really whisks you away into the land of the Eureka Stockade, well before modern conveniences and technology.

To be completely honest I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be a half-arsed attempt to replicate a ‘vintage town’ (I was 7 after all!) or was it going to be something right out of the movies, making you think you were really living in the middle of the gold rush era.

Have to say … MIND. BLOWN!

From the moment we walked in the gates, we were swept up into what can only be described as an immersion back into the era of gold prospectors … big dreams, high hopes and the really dirty (and dangerous) gold mining game.

Sovereign Hill invited me to bring my family to come and visit during the school holidays and to be honest I was hesitant. I had these sweet childhood memories (but that was like 35 years ago … yep!) however I went with an open mind, who knows what adventures could be had!  They gave us a Family VIP pass (RRP $240) which, for a whole day’s adventures including loads of extras, seemed like a great deal. So here we go…

We had some of the most incredible experiences, and of course I captured them on camera, because after all, a picture tells a thousand words!


From the moment you walk in you’re taken back into the steep, rich history of Victoria in the 1850s gold rush era. There’s no cars or buses, simply horse and carriage as the only form of transport.  The architecture is typical for the era, and the kids quickly lit up with all the action, the sounds, and the smells (no not the horses, the Hope Bakery – fresh sausage rolls!)


We were immediately welcomed by the sounds of banjos and guitars and these three men singing along to set the mood. #toetapping


First up we took a Coach Ride which does a loop around the entire Sovereign Hill town. It gave us a great chance to get our bearings and see where everything was. These run every 15 minutes (VIP holders get express entry and unlimited rides)


Next up we headed to Red Hill Studios and had a blast getting all dressed up in the ‘olden days’ costumes for our very cool looking vintage photo.  Look at those kids!! Fancy my bonnet?! #fashionista

TIP: It’s an additional charge to get the photo done (included in VIP package) but makes a great memento to take home and frame. 


We headed to the Empire Bowling Saloon where the boys tried their hand at 1850s bowling. There’s no automation or graphite bowling ball in sight … the wooden bowling ball, sloped lanes and wooden pins really made it fun and a great experience. The boys didn’t want to leave this one!


We loved that all of the buildings really captured the essence of the era, and the small details had even been thought of as far as bins and water fountains etc all being brought into line with the look of the era. Really so cleverly done.


Sovereign Hill naturally had its own Fire Station which really captivated the boys. They couldn’t believe that once upon a time Fireman Sam would have had to resort to these methods! Pontypandy eat your hearts out!


Next up we joined in on one of their Gold Mine Tours – a fully guided underground tour. After boarding the mine car, it took us about a minute to get deep down into the mines in the pitch darkness.  We then had a really fun and educational tour of the real goings on in the underground mines.  (Note: This tour is an extra cost although included in VIP Pass)


One of the things that really stood out from the get go was the standard and detail in the costumes. Oh my, they were amazing! From big petticoats, to Redcoat Soldiers, every staff member was dressed in full costume, and were totally in character! It made for such great theatre in the streets (and of course great photo opportunities). They loved it just as much as we did! Note Master 4 so intent on banging that drum – give him a drumstick … #noisyone


Suddenly out of nowhere a bunch of Redcoat Soldiers started marching up the street, muskets and all, and assembled out front of the United States Hotel. Everyone starts to gather and suddenly they’re up on the balcony … and what they did next was pretty spectacular!


This drunk policeman was a real character … harassing the people on the street looking for trouble! We loved him.


By now we were pretty hungry so we headed for the New York Bakery for our complimentary Devonshire Tea (part of our VIP Package or $11.90 inc tea/coffee). We were warned when we were coming through the gate to build up an appetite and so grateful we were warned! The scones were AH-MAZING and HUGE and DELICIOUS! We were so full after downing a couple of these babies with a coffee (and hot chocolate for the kids) so this kept us pretty full until late afternoon.


All the way through you’re constantly reminded of how things were back in the 1850s. From the working pumps on the street with troughs for horses…

Sovereign-Hill-History… to the stations they’d use to tie their horses complete with realistic noticeboards and posters. So cool.


Next up we went to the Gold Smelting Works where we watched a gold pouring demonstration. The goldsmith explained how they melt gold and then before our eyes poured glowing hot gold into a bullion mold and watched it harden right before our eyes! We then got a one on one Gold Handling Experience (VIP Holders only) where we got the hold the gold bullion. It’s worth about $150,000 (check out the grin on my face – a little excited much?)


All that holding gold is thirsty work so we headed to the United States Hotel for a cold one. They had a range of beers, wines, cocktails and softies for the kids – and check out the two posters I snapped that were up on display behind the bar! Seriously!! #thosewerethedays


Up the hill to check out the National School where we found a bunch of cheeky kids who certainly wouldn’t know what hit them in these days of formal schooling and strict discipline.


You’re welcome to sit at the desks and try writing with the ink and quills. Such an old art now. Pass me the pen? Note the blackboard: Spare the rod and spoil the child! 


A quick stop at the Candle Dipping and watched what would have been a tedious and time-consuming process to make candles.  Kids can make their own candle to take home – super cool activity!


We then headed down the hill towards the Red Hill Mine Tour. This is a FREE voice guided tour underground and quite honestly was pretty impressive. Again another totally immersive experience as you’re guided by voices and a hologram show through the mine experience. Highly recommended.

By now it was about 4pm and the boys were getting pretty tired. It’s a big day with SO much to do. We were coming back for the Blood Under the Southern Cross show at 8pm so decided to head to the gold panning area and try our luck!  Needless to say the kids had a blast!


The boys had an absolute blast panning for gold. They got a little too excited at one point (and got a little ‘too close’ to the river’) however that just met for a whole lot more fun!


It wasn’t just the kids who got into the gold panning action, I think the adults were having JUST as much fun!
TIP: Purchase a bottle for $2 to hold your gold, and is a really cool momento for the kids to take home.


Think the shovel’s a little bit bigger than he is, but that didn’t deter him! #determined


A quick stop for some souvenir sweets and treats on our way out and we were done!


Time to head home for a nap and prepare for the next instalment – Blood Under the Southern Cross.  Sovereign Hill’s award winning and multi million dollar Light and Sound Show.  This is an additional purchase to the day ticket and can either be purchased as dinner and a show or just the show itself.  We really had no idea what it was going to be about but considering we’d had such an incredible day, we figured they don’t do things by halves and would check it out.


Dinner was pretty tasty – and the kids even got an ice cream treat complete with gold nugget topping! #socute

I can’t go into too much detail about the Light and Sound show as no cameras were allowed. I will say however, we actually thought it was one of the highlights of the day! It certainly brought the entire story of Sovereign Hill, the history, the battles and the challenges of everyday mining life to life. It was an adventure taking place in 3 separate locations, a feast for the senses and quite frankly, even my 4 year-old couldn’t believe his eyes and his ears.

There’s lights, sounds and loads of FIRE! The whole family will love it!!

TIP: Given we’d attended Sovereign Hill earlier in the day, we would recommend if time permits to do the Lights & Sounds Show the night before. That way you completely understand the history of the era and have no doubt you’ll certainly appreciate your visit SO much more!  Bravo!




Sovereign Hill is a not-for-profit, community-based cultural tourism organisation.  Prices are listed below. We had the VIP pass which gave us access to a few extra great value features. Refer below for full details.

Entry Prices:
Adults – $52.50
Concession – $42.00
Child (5-15) $23.80
Family – 2A & up to 4C) $132.00
Single Parent (1A and up to 3C) $95
Children under 5 free

Gold Mine Tours: $7.50 Adult, $4.00 Child (5-15), $20.00 Family (2A & 4C)
Coach Rides: $5.50 Adult, $4.00 Child (5-15), $17.00 Family (2A & 4C)

NOTE: Sovereign Hill offers so much fun and adventure that a 2-day visit can be a practical option. Now you can enjoy a second day at Sovereign Hill for the price of a single day’s entry. Simply validate your pass before you leave and get back in the next day for free!

Sovereign Hill VIP Gold Pass (what we did!)

Includes • Admission to Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum • Unlimited coach rides • Labyrinth of Gold Mine Tour** • 1 x free return pass for day entry only (valid for 12 months from the date of original visit; not transferable) • Touch of Gold Experience • Express Costumed Photograph • Devonshire Tea.
1 Adult ticket = over $160 of value

Adult – $99
Concession – $87
Child (5-15) $45
Family (2A & up to 4C) $240
Single parent family (1A and up to 3C) $199


12-days-you-found-it-day-2Congratulations you found it!

Today’s prize in our 12 Days of Christmas is 4 x Family Passes for 4 valued at $136 each so you can take the kids to Sovereign Hill and discover this magic all for yourself!

To enter, simply answer the question in the graphic above (the answers in this article) and click here to complete the entry form and you could be one of today’s 4 winners!



Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.


  1. Jacqui Day Reply

    JacD73 – The Gold Tour sounds fantastic but must admit I’m also a bit partial to a yummy Devonshire tea!

  2. Maree Gray Reply

    The whole day sounds fantastic but I think the Light and Sound show would be amazing. Would love to see this.

  3. Natalie Cain Reply

    Just love the SMILES on the kids faces!! Looks like an awesome family experience waiting to be explored.

  4. I loved how looking through your blog made all my childhood memories of visiting sovereign hill come flooding back, it made me even more excited to take my children to visit this year and I am sure my boys who will be 4 & 6 will grow up with as fond memories as I did.

  5. Great review – love the tip about seeing the light show the day before! Lisa B

  6. Love the photos of very happy children and parents enjoying a heritage day out. I last visited Sovereign Hill 31 years ago and it looks like the village has really expanded but kept the all the positive qualities I remember form all those years ago. What a great way for children and adutls to be immersed in Australian history.

  7. Charelle Krulic Reply

    Thank you for sharing your special family day together, love the history and the way it is presented to make it enjoyable for all ages!

  8. The candle dipping and that the kids can make one themselves. I haven’t been here since the 1990s would love to go again

  9. Carmen Soto Reply

    Love the photos – its good to see how much it has changed since i was a kid as it was one of my favourite places to visit is victoria …

  10. Michelle Green Reply

    I love the photos, they really do tell a thousand words!

  11. Judith Maunders Reply

    I loved finding out all the things that the VIP Family Pass includes. We went there last year and Miss Nine was asking about the coach rides and was very keen to touch real gold, so it is good to know they are all included in that VIP Family Pass.

  12. Milly Kiely Reply

    I love all the kids adventures, candle making, looking for gold in the creek, old style bowling and lemonade, Lollie shop and going to the old school and learning to write with a quill. These are all things I did as a child and I’d love to show my kids. A fantastic place of fun and history all in one!

  13. I loved how best to tackle in seeing what there is to see at sovereign hill. I’ve been to sovereign hill but not to the night show. So will follow her suggestion next time now the kids are older and able to understand things more.

  14. Jessica Charles Reply

    The National School would be so interesting and I’d love my kids to experience what it was like to attend school back then.

  15. The photo’s. A picture to me most definitely does say a thousand words.

  16. The old world sepia photograph, as good as it is, makes me regret terribly that we didn’t get one done when we were at Sovereign Hill all those years ago. Next time, a big must……..along with a stop at the lolly shop 🙂

  17. blackwidow63 Reply

    its most the amazing place to step back in history and have old Sepia photograph which are not flattering in the least

  18. I appreciate the suggestion to go to the Lights & Sounds show first. I would’ve automatically done that last. The pictures also help to tell the story.

  19. I love the enthusiasm for the whole place that clearly comes through in this review. We are all history lovers so liked Belinda’s description of the authenticity of the costumes and relics. The Sights and Sounds show sounds unbelievably good, I just cannot wait to go to Sovereign Hill now!

  20. Jodie Evans Reply

    Very well written, makes want to plan our next holiday there. I was already contemplating going there, now i really want to go there.

  21. I liked what she said about the Light and Sound show..I have a 4 yr old too, and an 8 yr old, and I would have thought my kids might be too young for this but now I think it would be ok!

  22. Lauren Barnes Reply

    I’m yelling Eureka with the gold topping nugget ice cream bowls the kids got at the dinner and show, How adventurous!

  23. Angela Barone Reply

    Loved it all. There is so much to see and for the kids to take part in. Would love to pan for gold!

  24. I love the idea of the Sound and Light Show,
    We’ll have to do that when we go!
    Also the idea of going the night before,
    To explore everything that bit more!
    With so much to do and so much to see,
    The sights, the activities, the history…
    Actually, two days sounds better still,
    To explore every inch of Sovereign Hill!

  25. The sound and light show. We missed parts of it last time as our son was young and I had too take him outside because he was screaming! I had forgotten how awesome Sovereign Hill is.

  26. Traci Hampson Reply

    I LOVED all of the fantastic photos, bringing back my own very fond memories of visiting Sovereign Hill with my Parents and Siblings when I was young. It’s made me feel like I’d love to take my family now and re-live the fun!

  27. Jenny Woods Reply

    I loved Belinda’s colorful description of all the wonderful things to do at Sovereign Hill especially the sound & light show & getting to hold the gold bullion.

  28. Julie Hodsman Reply

    Looks like a great family day out with plenty to keep the kids busy and my son would go crazy over panning for gold.

  29. I loved reading about the Devonshire Tea, because my family loves loves loves scones!

  30. 25+ years ago, my grade 4 or 5 class went to Sovereign Hill and stayed over night on the hill above ….. The school experience was very different to our school, I remember some children had a stern talking to by the Sovereign Hill teacher!
    I would love to take my own children to experience the bowling and panning for gold!

  31. Nicole Woods Reply

    The same as all of her reviews – the wit, hints of sarcasm and passionate way that she describes things always gets me hooked!

  32. I loved the way it bought back sweet childhood memories of the times I visited Sovereign Hill with my family as a child. It also demonstrates perfectly how family holidays and day trips can strengthen family relationships as we play and learn together !

  33. Cindy Nickels Reply

    Belinda’s photographs and enthusiasm for all activities really captured me. I would love to take my niece to visit.

  34. Tamara Taaffe Reply

    It brought back some happy childhood memories of going to Sovereign Hill with my parents. I loved going their as a child, so much to do.

  35. Have always wanted to take the kids there, looks like a lot of fun.

  36. Bringing all my memories back and yes we also thought the next nugget was ours. I love how the kids get into the festive spirit that is Sovereign Hill.

  37. The whole review was very interesting reading, the panning for Gold really looks like fun.

  38. anna provatas Reply

    I went as a kid and still have my family photo in period costume – this post has fuelled the desire to return now with my kids!!!

  39. I loved the recount of the day’s activities especially how much fun the children truly had at bowling the old-fashioned way!

  40. I loved the amount of photos and activities shown. I didn’t realise there was so much to do!

  41. I loved the whole review. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve been to Sovereign Hill so I’m sure a few things have changed since then. My favourite part though is the photo and comments as you got to hold the gold bullion worth about $150,000. That’s alot of shopping I’m spending in my head right now.

  42. Trish Leonard Reply

    I loved how personal the review was. It was so much fun to read and it made me want to go to Sovereign Hill very soon to check it out for myself.

  43. Scott Crumlin Reply

    I felt like I was there in a way. Belinda really explained with enthusiasm all about a visit there. Had the impression I was going back in time, don’t know why.

  44. viviennedobin Reply

    I love the photos that go with the review they allow you to visualize the whole day

  45. Lisa Loizou Reply

    I loved the photos of the gold mining! My kids would love to do that. Great photos!!

  46. Linda Luczak Reply

    Loved the gorgeous pics and detailed itinerary of the visit. I felt like I was there myself! Magical!

  47. Tania Hardman Reply

    I haven’t been to Sovereign Hill since I was a kid either, and I’d really like to take my own 2 boys, but l Iike Belinda, I’d wondered if it was really as good as I’d remembered it and if my boys would enjoy it. From her review, I have absolutely ZERO doubts that we are going there as soon as possible!!! Thanks also for the advice regarding seeing the Blood on the Southern Cross the night before – Great Tip 🙂

  48. Natasha Page Reply

    Reminded me of when i was a kid at Soverign Hill and how much i loved it. I know that my 8yr old and 4yr old boys would have the best adventure here.

  49. Margot Farquharson Reply

    Loved the review of Sovereign Hill. I remember going as a kid also and I think my kids would love to dress up and have a photo taken. Me I just want the red boiled lollies.

  50. Awesome review. With a family its always good to know the hidden costs, what to expect and how to prewarn/prepare the kiddies! Thank you

  51. rachel sinclair Reply

    i so love the dress ups! what an amazing place… im gonna have to check it out now 🙂

    • Barbara Fehmel Reply

      Belinda’s review made me think about the hardships that these people had to put up with in their time, No washing machines, Refrigerator, or Television. How hard is that.

  52. Reading the start of your review, was like you’d been inside my mind at some point.. I’ve had the same thought process, haven’t been to Sovereign Hill in 30 years, thought about taking my kids many times, but always have the pre notion that my kids will hate it!.. And you got my real attention ( laughing ) at ‘half assed attemp to recreate a Vintage Town’…. (Great minds think alike!..)

  53. Belinda Bee Reply

    Belinda’s old time photo is what caught my eye! It’s such a lovely, tangible way to remember your time at Sovereign Hill and I’m impressed how they all really looked the part….I’m so getting one of these done with my family if I get to go 🙂

  54. Loredana Giannaris Reply

    Love the smile whilst holding the gold bullion worth $150 k. Every girl’s dream!

  55. Wow! This article bought back sooo many amazing memories. I loved Sovereign hill as a kid! The photos are amazing! Loved Belindas grin while holding the gold bullion! but the pics of the gold panning are my absolute favourite. Gold panning was/obviously still is the ultimate fun! and those pics really capture that. Theres one pic thats particularly “cheeky” haha…certainly made me laugh…

  56. your pictures made my children ask to go !!
    “please mummy, i want to eat the gold on the ice cream….”

  57. Judith Whitehead Reply

    fantastic. definitely want to take the kids now (been a very long time since I was there) loved the old time photos. panning for gold and the lolly shop. so much to see and do. can’t wait to plan a visit now very enthused

  58. Adele Brown Reply

    That her 4 year old son enjoyed the entire experience. Itching to take my own young son.

  59. I loved Belinda’s review. She nailed it, i took my children there many years ago i would love to take my grandchildren there some day. I loved It and i totally agree it is like stepping back in time from the moment you enter. Thank you for the memories Belinda 🙂

  60. Belinda Murray Reply

    I thought Belinda did a fantastic review and loved the photos we have been before but when my 2 boys were babies they are now 8 and 9 and would just love to explore it they didn’t know what was going on last time they love to collect gems so the gold would be fantastic to see for them and the light show it would all be an awesome family trip 🙂

  61. Mardi Storken Reply

    ‘The boys had a. blast panning for gold’….love they were taken back in time

  62. Kristy Lee Coles Reply

    I loved that she told us that this is for children and adults too, my children and I would love to go

  63. I thought Belinda’s review was excellent and very informative. She really makes me want to go! 🙂

  64. I loved how Belinda was able to show how the kids felt with references like Fireman Sam would of travelled on the old fire engine. It makes me want to let my kids experience that wonder and awe.

  65. Oh definitely reminiscing about going as a child and the opportunity to take her own children. I think it’s quite possible that I STILL have my ‘gold prospecting licence’ from when I went about 30 years ago!

  66. Gervase Dsylva Reply

    Loved how the authenticity of the era has been so well captured and the effort to keep it true to the times.

    • Yeah no two-pot vintage town here (as I was fearing!!) Really really authentic, even down to the costumes and characters!

  67. Melissa Mckeown Reply

    Loved Belinda’s whole blog about their Sovereign Hill experience. Loved seeing her photos, and she was so informative. It sounds like so much fun, and that Devonshire Tea sounds so yummy!!

  68. Melissa Puli Reply

    Nothing better than seeing the smile on the faces of little humans!!


    Loved comprehensively detailed and informative review, how she covered so much of what is on offer, our history and our heritage….especially what appealed from the full family perspective

  70. Well written article Belinda, I love that you gave all the details of what is on offer to experience, bought back memories of when I was a kid visiting, thanks for sharing your experience and wonderful photos

  71. Precious Jewel Reply

    What a beautifully written review. I would love to take my children there for a full day’s adventure and fun. Thank you Belinda.

  72. Jasmine Stanford Reply

    The gold panning looks like so much fun, my daughter would absolutely love it!

  73. Harris Xiao Reply

    Great review, which ensures you don’t miss a thing when visiting Sovereign Hill! The photos really show off the value of the VIP Gold Pass too!

    • Yep I’d definitely do VIP again next time too (but remember with VIP you can come back again within 12 months for free!

  74. Rebecca O'Grady Reply

    Loved the detailed description and particularly the photos, reminded me of my childhood visits to Sovereign Hill and the review made me realise how much my son would love it too!

  75. Elizabeth Jackson Reply

    I loved how much information Belinda gave in basically a Story way. I felt like she had taken me on such a virtual tour, I almost felt like I was with them. It is hard to believe that I or my husband or Family has never been. It has been a dream of mine all my life practically. i did reread belinda’s review 4 times as I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for such a wonderful & amazing virtual Tour Belinda & also your lovely family

    • Thanks Elizabeth! I tried to draw you into the experience enough to make you want ot come but not feel you’d seen it all! Trust me we didn’t see it all – there’s so much to see and do!

      • Elizabeth Jackson Reply

        Oh definitely felt I was with you all the way 🙂 🙂 xxx

  76. I loved the photos and the amount of information. I too have fond memories of Sovereign Hill and I would love to go again. I have always wondered if Blood On The Southern Cross was suitable for Miss 6… Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience and gorgeous photos.

  77. What a great family friendly location with across generational activities to enjoy. Beautiful family photos to treasure. Thank you for such a fine, detailed review…That you all enjoyed is captured in your smiles. Would love to renew my Sovereign Hill experience with my family.

  78. Felicity Turner Reply

    I remember visiting Sovereign Hill as a little girl. I have always wanted to return but never had the opportunity. I can still picture all the wonderful sounds and smells and sites. It was something I will never forget.

  79. I remember going as a child and remember the smell of the lolly shop as soon as you walked in the door. It was sweet and sickly at the same time. All the lollies were in jars, bright, shiny and delicious. Would love to go again.

  80. Ahh Belinda you brought back the memories!!I stayed at Sovereign Hill through a school excursion & loved every moment.Would love to pass on this amazing experience to my sons.

  81. You’ve shown me some things about Sovereign Hill I didn’t know – now I really do want to go:)

  82. Sharissa Munro Reply

    She brought back all the memorise i had from when i went over 14yrs ago. The mining, playing games, making souvenirs, taking the olden day photos, seeing the play and not to mention them scones. Can’t wait to make these memorise with my lil family now ♡

  83. Wendy Compergirl D'Arcy Reply

    I so want to eat those scones , I love the way she included prices on everything most people tend to leave that out and it’s a great thing to see when considering visiting a place like this.

  84. Helen Hamilton Reply

    The whole review sounds amazing, definitely needs to be added to the things to do list for the next school holidays. How amazing would it be to win the prize to make this a definite.

  85. Samara McRae Reply

    It is very informative and gives me all the if I need. All sounds amazing.

  86. Robyn Smithwick Reply

    Those scones look wonderful. I went to Sovereign Hill with our 4 kids years ago and we loved it! I still have the dinner bell and the 2 candlestick holders I bought there all those years ago. Mt eldest kid is now 45 and the baby is 37! lol!!!

  87. margie sincoe Reply

    The panning for gold sounds such fun for all the family and of course there’s always the chance of striking it rich and finding the next ‘Welcome Stranger’
    Margie mac.

  88. amandagorton Reply

    Because the light and sound is so secret and Belinda enjoyed it so much I am more than curious to check it out for myself. It certainly hits a nerve with my FOMO personality!

    • Haha well let’s just say I’d LOVE To tell you but then that would ruin all the surprise! I can see why it IS a surprise too. Just magical! You won’t regret it! Bel x

  89. It was in depth and extensive! Nothing was left out. I’m a sucker for details 😉

  90. Katherine Spanos Reply

    entertaining, comprehensive and attracts me to visit Sovereign Hill and partake in delicious scones, .exploring the historic buildings, the incredible light and sound show and indulging in the sweets which remind me of my childhood. Such an experience through the eyes of my inquisitive grandsons would be the best birthday present ever!!

  91. Tracey Ibbott Reply

    It looks like she left no stone unturned. Saw everything. It’s making me want to take my kids, regardless of winning this comp or not. So her review has had the right effect.

  92. julia sheedy Reply

    I use to love going when I was a child……I wished I could have taken my kids when they were younger….but never had the money to be able to do so(being a single mother at the time)…….would love to be able to win this so that me and my daughter (in her 20’s) can take her daughter/ my Granddaughter(3 yrs old) and her brother/ my son (14 yrs old) to experience and get to love what I did about Sovereign Hill when I was a kid.

  93. I love the way she describes every moment of the journey and the great tips she gives .. Would love to take the family .

  94. I love Belinda’s tips and tricks. I loved the way she highlighted them in bold, which really stood out. Love her quirky comments, making it easy to relate. Wonderful pictures, and her re-count made the review outstanding! Great job Belinda! Sounds like you and the kids had a blast!!… from the past!!

  95. Leisa Sandles Reply

    I love the way she writes. All the tips and tricks and the whole experience sounds awesome! My twin girls would absolutely love it especially the underground tour, panning for gold, the light and sound show and of course the lolly shop! Fingers and toes tightly crossed for this one! Thanks for the entertaining and informative read.

  96. Love the fact she has included lots of photos and tips about going to see, and understand that era, seeing the Lights and Sound Show the night before. Oh and the boiled lollies and scones with jam and cream look absolutely delish too.

  97. It was very indepth and makes you want to go and see it for yourself

  98. Jemma Hansen Reply

    I enjoyed reading about the gold smelting works. I wasn’t aware that a one-on-one gold handling experience was available to VIP holders, that makes the VIP pass extra special.

  99. Cass Fulford Reply

    The blog made me remember how much fun I had there when I was younger and made me realize I’ve never ever taken my kids there

  100. Kay Foster Reply

    I loved the detail. I haven’t been there and from the sounds of it I would love it as would the family! Something to look forward to!

  101. Michelle Waters Reply

    It’s so well written, and explains everything that I, and I’m sure many others look for, when reading reviews on a place they are considering visiting! Even things as ‘mundane’ as what there is to eat and drink, are important points that we need to know, so we’re not ‘caught short’ when we visit 🙂

  102. The pictures as it gives you a better understanding of what there is to do there…and by the looks and sounds of it there is so much to do for adults and kids alike

  103. Krissy Barr Reply

    What a great review. As a visual learner I loved the photos! I also appreciated the honesty and the links Belinda made to her childhood. I have never been gold panning and would love to take my two kids. Eureka!

  104. Kylie Bowers Weinz Reply

    What an awesome review 🙂 Looks like an awesome place to take the whole family and create some wonderful memories! I love How Belinda shares her tips! I need some of those scones with jam and cream NOW! 🙂

  105. Michelle Cleland Reply

    Taking my little nuggets in search of the golden nugget at Sovereign Hill would be pure gold !

  106. melinda nardella Reply

    OMG! I love a good Devonshire Tea and that looked amazing!. In fact it all looked amazing. What a great time the family had..So many new memories made for you all.

  107. Michelle Reynolds Reply

    I enjoyed reading her experience. It was so fun packed with so much to do. She wrote it so down to earth like an Aussie would. The dress up photography, Devonshire tea & the panning for gold all sounded so wonderful. I have been myself as a teenager on a family holiday & would love to take my own children now to experience it too

  108. The Gorgeous photo’s that bring Belinda’s inviting story to life.

  109. Christine Khatri Reply

    The reminiscing! I went there when I was at school and the photos bought back delicious memories my Indian hubby has never dreamt of!

  110. well written review.. you’ve captured all the relevant pictures as well.. Brings the memories back to many years..

  111. Nadine Cameron Reply

    I loved Belinda’s comment about the cheeky sign in the United States Hotel!

  112. Lisa Warren Reply

    I didn’t realise there were so many activities to do at Sovereign Hill. I think it might be time to take the family for a visit.

  113. Karyn Reimann Reply

    the candle making looked so interesting, would love to see that in action, and let the kids have a go

  114. I loved the whole review on Sovereign Hill. There are so many things my kid would love to do

  115. Katrina Bradfield Reply

    I loved that Belinda loved it again after all these years. It really is a great place to take the family where they can all enjoy something!

  116. The pictures of the boys panning for gold, I think that’s everyone’s dream of Sovereign Hill to pan and find that magical sparkle, great photos too that capture great moments.

  117. Lynnette Bull Reply

    I love how in depth Belinda went. Having been to Soveriegn Hill when I was younger Belinda has really captured every moment perfectly. She has shown how great this place is with her photography and added in bits like the night show which I have not been to. I would love to take my girls to Sovereign Hill and get to enjoy this magical place through the eyes of my children. And seeing how as Belinda looks like she really enjoyed it as an adult I am sure I would too

  118. Ann Maree Sculley Reply

    I love Sovereign Hill , the Gold Panning is fun for the whole family ,I love the whole review as I found things in it I didn’t actually do from our own family trip there , especially the Empire Bowling saloon , you all look like you are having a ball and Blood under the southern cross light show looks spectacular !

  119. Richard Harrison Reply

    Great photo-taking and all the kids look like they’re having a ball!

  120. Ainslie McKernan Reply

    Love how comprehensive this review was, plus all the photos 🙂

  121. Amy-Ruth MacDonald Reply

    The gold panning and scones sound awesome!! Review made it sound like fun!!

  122. Laura Powers Reply

    Great review gives a really look at what activities are available for the adults and kids, great photos too!

  123. kim brooks Reply

    Kim Brooks – the variety of activities, almost like an olden day theme park bought into modern day world. l really appreciated her honesty and the openness with costings.

  124. Nicole Middleton Reply

    Fabulous review Belinda! Sounds like a fun-packed day with an educational twist! Your review was super easy to read and provided a great overview of all the activities available at Sovereign Hill – I didn’t realise there was so much to do!

  125. We so rarely have the opportunity to have a family outing to anywhere so special so doing the homework before going can be a lengthy and tricky process to ensure the expectations are met and the budget remains intact. Belinda’s review does it all for us and summarises exactly what is on offer and how much to expect to need to have put aside to enjoy a great, stress-free day out. It is great to have such a family focused viewpoint to plan for the interests of various ages and get the most out of it all. I’ve wanted to take my family as I’d love to see the smiles and fun we’d have!

  126. Louise Patterson Reply

    I love Belinda’s description of the Sound and Light Show. I’m pretty sure that the kids, hubby and I would love to see that. 🙂

  127. Anthea Cornish Reply

    Very well written.She and the children and hubby obviously had a great time and got involved in all the activities.And what a prize!

  128. Amanda Mihaleff Reply

    Wow what a review! Belinha was very informative about her experience. From the gold panning to having tea and scones to the activities that were experienced. What an amazing adventure they had!!

  129. Very comprehensive! I haven’t been since I was young either so it woukd be great to now take my girls!

  130. Sarah Homans Reply

    I loved her honesty (not sure if it was going to meet expectation 35 years later), and she really sold the value of the VIP pass. I was wondering if my kids (5 1/2, 3, and 1) would be too young but after reading Belinda’s review, I think they would have a brilliant time.

    • Thanks Sarah. Seriously I wasn’t sure what my kids would think of it so went in with fingers crossed! On the way home that night I was quizzing master 4 (the shovel holder!) abotu his favourite bit. He stopped and thought about it and said ‘ummm I loved all of it’ and he really did. FOR ONCE he didnt’ whinge really all day (or night) that he was bored! haha! Totally captiviated!

  131. Baila Cyprys Reply

    Love the photos and detailed description. Have never taken my little ones ( 10 & 8). Felt like i was there reading this.

  132. Belinda gives a glowing family real life review of what fun there is to have- with four school aged kids- sounds like an ideal family fun day out

  133. I loved that there was so much detail and lets you know what there is to do. No matter how old you are there is something for you to enjoy. Would love to take my 2 boys (4 and 1) one day

  134. I love how you’ve brought the fun and highlights of Sovereign Hill to life in your review! Especially with all the great photos included! The Gold Mine Tour and gold panning look like great fun 🙂

  135. ivy fraser Reply

    I loved the whole experience of learning about our past history. I am 53 and have never been to Ballarat and would love the same experience Belinda did. To even hold a piece of gold that big is a huge experience. Pretty scary going down in the mine but then you would be able to understand what the workers go through these days. And then there is the atmosphere of the entire place with the costumes and actors. the drunk policeman would be a blast

  136. I love that her son is wearing an Adelaide Crows hat, but the light show looks amazing. That wasn’t on offer when I was there years ago, would love to get back there and see it. Great suggestion to see the show the night before too.

  137. I loved that Belinda’s review has exactly the information I’m interested in to take my 3 kids; the activities and things they’d be interested in. I haven’t been to Sovereign Hill since I was a child, but I still have my little vial of gold somewhere, so it really is a wonderful memento! I’d love to take my kids and see how much it’s changed, or hasn’t changed, since in the last 20 years or so.. This review has made my very excited at the prospect (no pun intended). I especially love the gold panning, and how Belinda’s son used the huge shovel! Very cute!

    • Hahaha yeah I searched high and low for my bottle of gold from ‘yesteryear’ but couldn’t find it! It was truly awesome and loved how easy it was for the kids to get swept up in it all. Bel x

  138. I loved the vibrant photographs showing how much fun her family was having! You could just see the joy on the children’s faces 🙂

  139. Wendy Hatton Reply

    They got to have a go at all sorts of interesting activities! I can see this would keep kids engaged all day.

  140. Kate Reynolds Reply

    I love the pictures: the scones looked delicious and the old school photo looked fun!!!

  141. Kayleen Henschel Reply

    The old time photo is a beautiful nostalgic reminder of times gone by.

  142. Rebecca Costa Reply

    Your whole blowminding review was incredible i love it all but the black and white photo priceless!!

  143. jessica frick Reply

    Brings back awsome memories of when i went to there as a child. She really covered everything. It was an amazing review. Sounds like thing have even improved. I would love to take my boys to learn and enjoy ‘the olden days’

  144. Teresa Hogg Reply

    wow that looks amzing id love to take my kids there to show them what it use to be like

  145. Courtney Foster Reply

    Wow brings back memories of myself going there with my family when I was younger. I would love to take my son to experience all the different things they have to offer

  146. i love the gold panning! seems like fun! i had to laugh at the photo (everyone panning at creek) because it seems that you found “buttcrack” gold! *lol when you see it too

    • Hahaha I actually had to photoshop out a butt crack Carly so I could use the pic! I’m sure she’ll thank me! 😉

      • lol, i think you need to photoshop the boy on the very left side as well 🙂

  147. tanya clarke Reply

    I love the look of the sound and light show. We’ve never stayed past 4pm. Something we definitely need to do next time. Loads of fire? My 3 year old would LOVE that!

  148. Bec D'owney Reply

    I loved the memories it gave me – the Downeys lived near Sovereign Hill / Ballarat and it brought back things I’d forgotten. Clearly I must visit soon.

  149. i love how passionate she is when she writes, its so informative and so enjoyable to read

  150. I love the candle making part, what a great idea! I’ve always wanted to make my own candles

  151. feline1981 Reply

    Your witty comments with matching pics certainly had me cacking to myself muchly! My fave would have to be your choice of “Fashionista Bonnet”! Also I enjoyed the fact that a $240 family pass includes up to 4 children is a must- we have 3 school aged children now and we are astounded how many times we need to fork out for the extra child…

  152. Visiting the school looks like it would be a lot of fun and I have to admit the dessert with gold on top is really cute and looks delish!

  153. shelbyward Reply

    Love the United States Hotel – so authentic and I enjoyed the humour in that photo. In fact all the photos are awesome!

  154. Nikky Edwards Reply

    Her passionate review perfectly captures every magical moment I remember from when I was a child! Makes me want to share the experience with my family now!

  155. I love the bit at the beginning where she wonders whether it is going to be a ‘half-arsed attempt to replicate a vintage town’ ! Very honest and exactly what I would be thinking too. She showed that it was indeed very professional and an authentic experience.

  156. Marlene Tham Reply

    Belinda made me yearn for panning gold, to be whipped back into the days of Gold Mining and her true honestly about her experience. Loved the pictures and her sense of humour.

  157. We went few years ago with my 3 kids, my son is Autistic. While waiting in line he was made fun off in front of about 30 people because of the way he talked by a staff member. He was 9 at the time he was absolutely devastated and totally embarrassed by the whole thing. I complained to them and to this day no one bothered to get back to me. We hope to go again soon because it is a lovely place and hope we have a better experience.

  158. Your review was great, it bought back so many memories of my childhood visits to Sovereign Hill. I was glad to hear that the Blood under the Southern Cross is so good, I still have not experienced that and would love to!

  159. Indika Wijayasekera Reply

    Belinda has shared her childhood memories and tried to make her children’s childhood memories more memorable as hers. She has explained her journey and experience in detail which motivate us to experience sovereign hill in a more enjoyable manner. The pictures support her views. We have been there about 6 years ago.Now that I have kids I would like to enjoy this great experience with the family.Belinda’s review is simply great, well detailed and enjoyable to read!

  160. Sarah McCoy Reply

    I loved Belinda’s love for the gold bullion – shame she had to give it back!!

  161. Nicole Cicuto Reply

    Wow… What a trip down memory lane! I have great memories of going to sovereign hill as a child, and was only saying recently that I would like to share that experience with my girls. Miss 4 is always talking about “the olden days” when I was young, but I would love for them to learn about our real history. I was glad Belinda and her family had such a great time

  162. Elisabeth Martins Reply

    I loved her whole review. It reminded me of when I was younger and visited somewhere like this in primary school where we panned for gold and stayed in an old country town. Wow, I totally forgot about that. I think I still have that gold nugget I panned 🙂 I would love for the children to experience this because they are so overwhelmed by technology and the world has become too modern.

  163. Elizabeth Davey Reply

    I loved the joy not only in her kids but also in herself that she showed during her day

  164. Patricia Harkin Reply

    Belinda’s review was very informative with regard to the various activities and displays suitable for kids and adults alike. What came across in the review was the interactive nature of Sovereign Hill and the opportunity visitors of all ages have to enjoy and experience the “vibe” of the gold era. It is like you are really there.

  165. Eva Kiraly Reply

    Very informative Belinda and it makes me want to get up and go there right now, sounds like so much fun for the whole family.

  166. Lisa Walker Reply

    Whst a great review!! would defo love to take my boys now, Ive been uuhmming and aarghing for a while 🙂

  167. Great honest review. Very thorough and has lots of great tips and hints to make the most of a visit.
    (Amy Gormley)

  168. Julie Ford Reply

    her excitement about the gold bullion and her love and passion

  169. Sandra Gormley Reply

    I liked the way Belinda compared her visit 35 years ago to what her family did together now. Sovereign Hill is a wonderful experience where everyone learns in a hands on, fun way. The activities Belinda and her family enjoyed certainly showed that

  170. I loved the whole review and the super cute pics but I actually really loved the heads up Belinda gave to see the lights and sounds show if you can! Great tip!

  171. Lisa Hardy Reply

    She was so in deeth in what they did which makes me want to go now it looks so much fun

  172. Indeed a picture tells a thousand words! Her pictures give more vividness to the awesome amazing experience one can have visiting the Sovereign Hill. And I have two little boys as well, so I can really get some pointers on what to do from her experience should I be very lucky to win the family pass.

  173. Looks like an amazing place. Never new Sovereign Hill a place like this existed. Can’t wait to go!

  174. Claire Bansagi Reply

    I haven’t been to Sovereign Hill in 20 years. What a great review to remind us what it’s all about

  175. Gives an excellent overview of what to do,costs & also tips as to what order to do it in – including the light show the night edits. Would love to win this. Haven’t been since primary school & would love to show my 2 children what it’s all about.

  176. I love the tip to attend the sound and light show the night before. Much better use of our young family’s energy!

  177. Wow your write up is so detailed and covers everything! Well Done!! I would love to take our Master Four to Sovereign Hill and experience this awesome place. And I will stop at the NEW YORK BAKERY for jam and cream scones twice whilst we are there to for sure!

  178. I love that Belinda & her family experienced everything! So much to do 🙂

  179. Debra Black Reply

    Loved the tip to see the lights the night before !!! Great heads up !!!!!!

  180. Thank you so much Belinda your review was amazing…so very informative and whilst reading it I could actually picture what is was like living in the 1850s. The photo’s were magic, you certainly captured the vitality of the settlement. WELL DONE 🙂

  181. Rebecca Blanck Reply

    we would love to try our hands at gold panning and just the entire day/night looks awesome!

  182. Ingrid Hirvonen-Burgess Reply

    I loved that it made me want to take my children to Sovereign Hill, to experience the fun and history of the era andplace

  183. I have to admit, I am more excited than anyone to go to Sovereign hill. I have been nagging my partner to take me for a year now, ever since I moved to Victoria. Belinda your review just made me crank up the nagging notch up to extreme!! Love the photos!

  184. I Love The Review & How Detailed It Was, But I Think The Best Part Were The Photos. The Smiles On The Kids Faces Says It All. I Always Thought If I Take My Two Boys There, They Would Get Bored But Those Smiles Have Made Me Think Twice 🙂

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