I really enjoyed this excursion. The Wildlife Park was fun kangaroos running around free. Quite an experience. My only regret was that we only got 20 minutes at the lake in Ballarat. It was beautiful there were gardens I would have liked to explore. Too much time at Sovereign Hill and not enough time seeing Ballarat. The gold museum was very interesting.
This unusual tour for Americans was quite good. My husband's great-great grandfather was a miner at Sovereign Hill where a major gold vein was found. He wanted to visit this recreated mining town. The residents wear period costumes from the 19th century and many ply the trades appropriate to the times such as gold smeltering, tinsmithing, bakers, dry goods, etc. There is also a candy making shop which specializes in lollies--a hard and variously flavored type of candy which is beloved by Australians. Since many of the miners were from Cornwall, England delicious pasties can be had for lunch from the bakery.
Our driver/guide, Don, was knowledgeable about the area as we drove to and toured the city of Ballarat. Sovereign Hill is part of Ballarat. It is a pleasant town with some interesting Victorian arcitechture. At Sovereign Hill he left us to explore the area on our own until departure time.
It was clear that Don enjoyed introducing tourists to this wonderful area.
I should also add that Ballarat is a plot point in A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story The Bascombe Valley Mystery in case someone is a Sherlockian--another reason for our visit.
We did not visit the wildlife park. Those who did were dropped off at the park and the rest of us went on to Ballarat. The park visitors were later picked up at the park and driven to Sovereign Hill for their visit.
There is a theatre which at times has an impromptu performance on Main Street. British red coats also march down the street complete with a small drum corp. Muskets are fired off at the town square and horse drawn cart tours are also available. Demonstrations of gold smeltering are given throughout the day. There is also a gold mining encampment that can be seen. Tours of a real gold mine are also offered. My husband who took the tour thoroughly enjoyed it and said that it was also very informative.