Walking along the light-festooned street with friendly “Victorian” folk of Sovereign Hill and dipping in and out of the various shops is a lovely time-travelling experience.
When: Christmas in July runs 24 June – 25 July 2016 daily – click here for daily programs and other details
Where: Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street BALLARAT
Cost: Adult $54, Child $24.50, family $136 – click here for all the details and to book.
Many thanks to contributor Thuy On for attending on behalf of Meetoo and preparing this fabulous review!
For those who haven’t been to Sovereign Hill for a while (that’s me since primary school), it’s well worth a return visit, particularly if you have children in tow.
If you can’t make it to the slopes and still hanker for Christmas in July, coming along to its Winter Wonderlights is highly recommended. All the trappings of Christmas are included: carollers, dainty fairy lights, cinnamon fritters, and fake snow (actually snow-like tiny bubbles). At around 5.45pm (or whenever it gets dark) the light projections start to appear on all the buildings on main street and it feels like White Night festivities (albeit especially for kids).
Walking along the light-festooned street with friendly folk dressed up in Victorian costumes and dipping in and out of the various shops was a lovely time-travelling experience. The bright colourful lights shone on the “snowflakes” and made them seem like confetti was raining down on our heads. The kids sucked on horse-head lollipops as we warmed our hands along the fire pits dotted along the way, passing the saddlery, the blacksmith, the drapery store, the pub and the newspaper office.
We arrived late in the day, in time for the night lights so we had our pass stamped at the Post Office so we could come back the following day. This is a fantastic free offer as you will almost definitely run out of time if you try and fit in all the activities in the one day.
We returned in the morning and admired the horse-drawn carriages pulling their load of passengers as we wended our way towards the candle-dipping activity and the bowling alley after having marvelled at the gold pour demonstration (where liquefied gold pieces became solidified into one heavy block).
Winter in Ballarat truly necessitates thermals, gloves, beanies and thick jackets but coffee and hot chocolate warmed and fortified our spirits as we continued to wander about after going into the bowels of the earth in a scary and educative underground mine tour called Trapped (there’s another two tours available). This one was about Australia’s worse gold mine disaster in nearby Creswick.
Children will enjoy all the ye olde shop fronts and period costumes on “locals” providing an interactive ambience as well as admiring the magical lit-up facades – add in the stories woven into the day to remind visitors of an important chapter of the nation’s history.
Of course no trip to Sovereign Hill is complete without panning for gold and gloves were peeled off to enable the sieving and sluicing for any shiny treasures. (The 8yo shrieked after finding a speck).
A prior engagement meant that there were many other activities and demonstrations available that we didn’t have time to see (including shadow puppets, pantomimes and acrobats) but there’s always next time!