Stephanie went on a family excursion with four year old nibling J to Sovereign Hill on Monday. It was hilarious! She took a day off work, caught the V/Line, wandered through a mine, oohed and ahhed over steam engines and made fun of old books. She also has very, very strong feelings about their gift shop.
Sovereign Hill is a tourist/amusement park based in an old mine site outside of Ballarat. There are mines to climb down, old tent towns, three churches, and a working main street. This working Main Street comprises the awesome element of the gift shop – every shop front is working, and contains tradespeople waring their trades.
- A candleworks: watch people make candles; make candles; buy candles
- A foundry: watch people use a lathe to make things like rolling pins and homewares; buy those homewares
- Tinsmith: watch people make tin things; buy those tin things
- Confectionery store: buy boiled sweets!
- Drapery store: THE GREATEST STORE ON MAIN STREET. Wares for purchase range from steampunkishness such as fabric fans, through to traditional underwears (!!), books about household lore and how to be a polite gentlemen, and the Victorian House colouring in book. AMAZING. SO GREAT. Also calligraphy supplies and Sovereign Hill tea towels.
WHAT A GREAT LIST. However I was with a four year old, so I didn’t really get to purchase the things I wanted to purchase. That’s okay, though, because there’s a gift shop upon exit! HOWEVER
H O W E V E R
With fifteen minutes to go before the coach (free) back to Ballarat Station, we exited in a leisurely fashion through the gift shop, only to find that of all these awesome things for sale, only about a third of them are available in the actual gift shop! The actual gift shop is filled with your usual tacky Australiana rather than THE AWESOME THINGS I WANTED TO BUY.
There were no warnings about this that I saw within Sovereign Hill, and I am so annoyed I have seriously considered going back again soon to buy the things I wanted. I am also about to email Sovereign Hill and complain. As a result of this annoying state of affairs, I only spent $16, rather than the probably closer to $100 I would have actually spent. Maybe that’s for the best.
Museum: Sovereign Hill
Layout: Gift Shop spacious and UNDERSTOCKED. Main Street was a bit hazardous on a wet day (maybe not good for wheelchairs) but otherwise shops were navigable.
Day and time visited: Monday, mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
Purchases: 1 x Book (“Early Settler Household Lore”), 3 x hilarious Australian currency travel tissue packs.
Rating: 3 potatoes out of 5 (All negative potatoes due to grave and grievous disappointment over not being able to buy things in the external gift shop)
Location: Bradshaw Street, Ballarat. Get there by car (loads of parking), or on the V/Line Goldrush Special (runs once a day from Southern Cross to Ballarat return. It includes coach transfer from Ballarat Station to Sovereign Hill, and a voucher for discounted entry which is good as it’s an exxy entry fee).