Time to hit the goldfields – we found an awesome camp in the forests to the north of Ballarat then hit the Sovereign Hill centre to find out about life in the Gold Rush in the 1850s.
Red soldiers firing enfield rifles
With a Trooper
Panning for gold
Jar of leeches
Wheelwright in action
Saloon bar flies
Red Soldiers line-up
Muskets and enfield rifles were fired, we climbed down into Red Hill mine, watched stagecoaches ride past, panned for gold, and even found a few specks in the stream (they put 3g of gold in each day for the tourists to find).
The kids were horrified watching the school kids who were participating in the whole thing, dressed in 1850s uniforms, attending classes, and raising caps to adults as we passed by. The school lesson was brilliant as a very stern teacher made year 3-5 kids recite poems over and over again until they got it right. Funnily enough I had flashbacks to my childhood and the eccentric English teachers who had similar approaches.
We watched a 3kg gold ingot get poured, boiled sweets being made and to finish an excellent day we visited the gold museum to find that we were camped in the middle of the gold area. We had noticed a handful of little tents squirreled around the hills in the forest but there is still a lot of gold fever there. One guy who had obviously had some luck drove past in a Mercedes with new caravan and license plate “TWINKL”.
Tempted we pulled out the shovel and gold pans to have a go, but soon gave up realising that thousands of people have tried before us, and we could have spent months there without finding anything. We gave it a go though!
Categories: Adventure, Australian Outback, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Travel, Travel Adventure, Victoria
Tags: Ballarat, Gold fever, gold ingot, Gold Rush, Sovereign Hill
Just before leaving Tasmania we met a local farmer who we spent a while talking to. He owned hundreds of acres and cultivated poppies and pyrethrum for the pharmaceutical industry, potatoes, cattle for the top end restaurant market and more besides. A beautiful oak and sycamore stood near the entrance of what appeared at first glance to be a poppy field but there was also a graveyard in the middle of the field.
Bruce showed us how the opium extraction begins then explained that the trees used to be at the entrance to the church that once stood there, and that a school used to stand next door. At nearly 80 years old he told us some of the local history that was slowly being forgotten. We took a photo with him then bade him a farewell after over an hour of chatting in one of his paddocks.
Tasmania is the only state that is legislated to grow opium poppies. Farmers must have an approved contract with a pharmaceutical company and the whole operations are monitored very closely by satellite, police and locals. Last time Amanda stopped to photograph a poppy field on a previous visit we had a police car arrive before she had got back in the car!
Our final thing to do was get some fruit picking in and close to the ferry we found a “pick your own” farm with raspberries, tayberries and strawberries. All the kids loved the photo opportunity involving a horse’s rear, as well as in the field with the fruit.
Then as we queued for the ferry in Devonport our last final excitement in Tasmania as the car in front us was descended upon by police. One man fled with cops in hot pursuit and his female passenger was escorted away. Before we got on the ferry the undercover cops arrived and were stripping the car!