After making some yummy avocado sandwiches for the road (we've learned our lesson with hungry kids) we took our Ford Everest for a ninety minute drive west to Sovereign Hill Historical Park. We described Sovereign Hill to Raquel as a time machine: Once we emerge from the reception, we would be 150 years in the Australian gold rush past. With the right choice of words and imagery, she remained engaged throughout the day. Our tour guide Benjamin was kind, patient, and knowledgeable. A true, mild-mannered Victorian gentleman. We kicked off our visit playing dress up and taking antique pictures to get into the mood of the century. Next was a visit to baby ducks, chickens and goats. Raquel and Gali were in heaven. We watched historical re-enactors in Red Coats display their marching skills, firing their loud muskets which freaked Galileo right out. We joined in a presentation of gold melting, and played around with a 147 k gold bar worth over $170,000! We watched a wheel making demonstration, a boiled candy presentation, and a theatre rehearsal. A horse carriage took us around the village, with Gali fascinated by the steel-rimmed wheels, and Raquel the Clydesdale horses. With Benjamin as an able guide, Raquel got a chance to pan some gold from a creek. Chinese and Indian tourists gathered around her as she collected her tiny specks in a rusty old pan. Mom suspects that Benjamin had something to do with Raquel's luck. When we thought we couldn't see any more, Benjamin took us to the blacksmith to heat and twist metal into a hook for Raquel. She thought it was magical! Such a simple gesture, such grand impact. "This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen," said Raquel, proudly clutching her hook. Overall, a golden experience for our kids. Exhausted with excitement, the kids passed out in the car on our way back to Melbourne.
Along with the heat, there was a lot to absorb. Benjamin suggested a break for lunch in the New York Bakery on-site. Fish and chips and large cold, fresh milkshakes made for very happy toddlers (and parents).
At the New York Bakery on site.
My Favourite Pictures Today
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Oaks Southbank. Dad shows Gali some of the urban sights from the patio of our 25th floor apartment.
Benjamin introduced us to a weird drink which looks, and some might argue tastes like dirty river water. It is a Coke mixed with orange juice. He calls it, aptly, Creekwater. We learned the power of building magic and imagination into any experience. Sovereign Hill is so great with the details. The vibe and feel of the experience is so well crafted it allowed us to travel in time and see stories come to life. We learned that kids are more impressed by patting goats than get impressed holding a $170,000 gold bar. We learned that blacksmiths got their name from black metals (iron, steel) and smith (from smythe, Old English "to strike") and that there are also whitesmiths (tin, pewter) and of course, goldsmiths. We learned about Victoria's Golden Triangle and mid-19th century Gold Rush. We learned that candy was so expensive back then that it was strictly a treat for adults. We learned that it will probably and inevitably take us longer to get anywhere than we originally estimate.
Reflection of the Day
Dressing up was fun for Raquel and set the right mood for the rest of the day. Mom votes for the lunch break and her cold and refreshing beer. Just a pot (250 mls), but it did the trick! Gali was smitten by the wheels and the baby ducks. Not too impressed with the dressing up part and definitely not ok with those funny looking man firing guns at the air. Dad rejoiced at his little girl's curiosity and wit while watching the Benjamin do his metal bending trick.
The heat was intense. We are still not used to the constant sunscreen business. Watching the re-enactors in their long sleeves , long pants and heavy skirts made us appreciate being in modern times. Back at the hotel, Raquel was climbing about and slipped, bashing her cheek pretty badly.
We'll Always Remember
- Name: Benjamin
- : My place..there's dam to swim in, chickens for eggs, and everything I need
- : There’s so much to see! I’ve spent a fair portion of my life travelling and I’ve barely scratched the surface
- : Find something you enjoy doing and do that as much as you can
- Name: Steve
- : Port Douglas
- : I want to explore somewhere different.
- : Make sure you learn at school.
Story telling goes a long way with kids. Raquel truly believed she was in a time machine. We were blessed with an exceptional guide today who understood that kids need activity, not information. Benjamin took us from one experience to the next, keeping the kids constantly engaged. It's the simple things that often have the biggest impact: a simple hook over a bar of gold.