Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ballarat: Sovereign Hill Christmas in July 2016


I very rarely put up a post that is not expired (opps!) but I'm trying to redeem myself with this post. This is very much up to date as my visit to Sovereign Hills was just.. yesterday. 

Sovereign Hill Christmas in July this year runs between 25th June 2016 to 24th July 2016... so yup, still about a month more to go if you plan a visit now. I've been toying with an idea to getaway, to curb the itchy feet but day life lately has been needing more money faster than I am earning so I have been grounding myself. That being said, I do need a break so decided to do a day trip to Ballarat. Ideally, I would've prefer to do the commute on a long weekend but being a good Asian I am (kiasu and cheapskate) I want to make it coincide with this Christmas in July event so I made the travel yesterday. 


Entrance fee to Sovereign Hill is not cheap at a price of $54 for one adult and this fee include entrance to Gold Museum across the road from Sovereign Hill. There isn't much discount available except maybe via Entertainment Book, or if you are a RACV member or if you stumbled upon an online deals which I've been checking for a while but haven't seen any. 

I took a train to Ballarat and any discount is better than none, I decided to coincide my VLine commute with the VLine Goldrush special train. Travelling on Goldrush Special hour train gives a 10% discount and a free Cobb & Co Coach ride. 


Currently, Cobb & Co Coach ride costs $5.50 for one adult. So there is a little savings of $10.90. Something is better than nothing. 

Got this discount voucher from the bus driver. Upon paying for entrance fee, make sure you get another voucher for the coach ride because this voucher will be kept. 
As my other reason of going to Sovereign Hill is for the Christmas in July and the lights will only be up at about 5.45 PM, so leaving Sovereign Hills via the Goldrush special train hour is not an option. I decided to take a public bus to Ballarat Station after catching the Winter Wonderlights. Sovereign Hill website mentioned of bus number 9 but buses in Australia have different schedule between weekdays and weekends, so best to re-check before your travel. 

Here are links to check on public transport. 

I reached Sovereign Hill just before 11 AM and took the 6.49 PM bus to catch the 7:14 PM train back to Melbourne, which translates to I was in Sovereign Hills for more than seven hours. I was initially wondering if it has enough activities to keep my occupy but well, it did and I didn't even do all of the activities. Would I return again? Maybe but I don't think I would in the near future unless there are new activities to be explored. 

So.. here are what I did yesterday:

11:00 AM - Walked around the main street. Link to map


11:30 AM - Musket Firing (15 minutes duration)


11:45 PM - Snowfalls at Main Street


There were snow falls, and there was Santa Claus who gave out sweets.


12:00 PM - St Nicholas Old Horse stage performance
I didn't take any photo of the stage play though...
12:25 PM - Cobb & Co coach ride
I had a good timing. I was lucky that I didn't have to wait to get a ride. 



12:40 PM - Lunch
I bought a steak and mushroom pie from Hope Bakery.


It was so-so, I wished it had chunks of meat though
01:00 PM - Gold Pour (20 minutes duration)

He was rubbing some wood on the red-hot gold. It was so hot that there were fire sparks. 
This block of gold is 3 kg and cost about $187,000!
01:30 PM - Red Coat Soldiers (15 minutes duration)
I initially thought it was to see the Red Coat Soldiers marching and thought I have missed it because the leader said "go up the stairstairs" Lol.


The reason they gone upstairs was because they were getting ready to fire the guns, each at a time.


02:00 PM - Sweet making (15 minutes duration)
This by far has the most kids, it is sweet making after all. The area wasn't spacious either and I was there just before the session started, so I was catching the session just outside the door.

Adding citric acid to the raspberry drop
We were given free sample of these raspberry drops, this is their best selling candy
02:30 PM - Candlemaker (20 minutes duration)
This one a bit of a letdown actually because there were so much talk and so little demonstration. The actual candle making demonstration was pushing down the apparatus twice that was used to make candles. She did show how to dip to make a coloured candle though.

The demo was not by this lady though, she was showing a couple of children who participated to dip the candles


03:00 PM - continued walkabout the area and went up Gold Mine

Real gold flakes on sale as souvenir



03:30 PM - Red Hill Mine Tour (12 minutes duration)
This is the free self guided mine tour in a very loose description. What really happened was the person in charge will give a short briefing i.e. going down some steps till reach a landing, listened to audio recording and once that was done, the audio recording will tell you to continue walking. 

The paid mine tour was popular but I didn't want to take that one (even though it wasn't that expensive ) but because 
- I was being a cheapskate
- I've gone down a mine in Bendigo
- the entrance fee to Sovereign Hill is expensive enough as it is


04:00 PM - 'Rue' by Three High Acrobats


04:30 PM - continued walkabout

Inside Apothecaries' Hall

Minced pie candles.. lol
04:45 PM - get a pass-out stamp from Post Office and checked out Gold Museum

Last entrance at 5:15 PM before closing at 5:30 PM
05:40 PM - Christmas Choir and Winter Wonderlights



I'm trying to put photos of similar buildings so that the projection lights looks more obvious.






06:35 PM - making my way out to the bus stop

So.. that was a day in Sovereign Hill during Christmas in July :)

P/S: If Sovereign Hill is not your cup of tea, maybe a flower festival might interest you. Ballarat holds the Ballarat Begonia Festival annually, usually during the Labour Day long weekend. So if not July, maybe next March? ;)


Side note: Haih - why is 2016 so hard...?

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