There are so many things to do in Ballarat with kids. We spent the day at Sovereign Hill, stayed overnight and walked around the lake on the Sunday. We really enjoyed making a weekend out of our visit.
Sovereign Hill with kids is absolutely the drawcard of Ballarat with kids.
Sovereign Hill is definitely Melbourne’s best outdoor museum, possibly Australia’s best outdoor museum. Here you will step back in time to the Goldrush Days.
Only a couple of hours from Melbourne, Sovereign Hill does make a good day trip from Melbourne. But, if you are planning on staying into the evening then we can highly recommend staying overnight in Ballarat and not having to drive home in the dark!
Sovereign Hill provides a full day of family entertainment and a unique historical Australian experience. It really is one of the best Australian experiences for kids.
Think; costumed staff, dress up for photo’s, lolly shops, candle making, mine tours and more! Pretty much everything you can think of that made life how it was back ‘in the olden days’.
What you can find in this post
Sovereign Hill Attractions
Winter Wonderlights – Christmas in July
If you get the chance, we can highly recommend that winter is a fantastic time to visit Sovereign Hill. We timed our visit for Christmas in July and think this is the best time to visit Sovereign Hill. At this time of year, you can rug up from the cold (well freezing), walk the streets while it snows in the evening, meet Santa, drink mulled wine and watch the streets light up as it gets dark.
Sovereign Hill Mine Tours
Before we even arrived at Sovereign Hill we were told that the mine tours definitely book out very quickly on busy days and we should book as soon as we arrive. Mine tours are not included in your entrance tickets and must be purchased upon arrival from the ticket booth (not at the entrance).
The mine tours run for around 45 minutes and include a decent on the ‘train carriage’ into the dark. If you are not a fan of being underground or in the dark you are given an opportunity to go back up as soon as you arrive underground!
Not to be missed – Making Candles at Sovereign Hill
One of the kids favourite activities was the candle making. I am glad there were a few adults in our group to listen to the instructions on how to master the rainbow candle! I’m useless, I am sure I would have mucked it up if it was up to me!
Take the kids back to school at Sovereign Hill
This was a terrific activity and one not to be missed when visiting Sovereign Hill with kids. The staff were fantastic, manners had to be in check (hats off at the door), and the kids were given the opportunity to try writing with a feather and ink. This is what Olive was hoping to do when we visited the Outdoor Museum in Estonia, Tallinn.
Red Hill Gully Diggings – Pan for (real) gold at Sovereign Hill
One of the best things to do in Sovereign Hill with kids is grab a pan and shovel (plenty lying around on the side of the water) and have a go at panning for gold.
I had no idea that there was actually real gold to find ha! We all found tiny little flicks and you are able to buy bottles from the gift shop at the Diggings to carefully place your gold into to take home.
It took a little getting used to but there are staff members around who can show you the best way to pan for gold.
** It can get messy and wet!
See what a bar of gold looks and melts like!
This was our first activity of the day and was super interesting, very entertaining and also kept the kids engaged throughout.
Check out Sovereign Hill’s antique machinery
We had a snack whilst the blacksmith show was finishing up. This one was a little hard to hear but afterwards there was time to look a little closer and ask questions. The kids enjoyed having their names stamped onto horse shoes to take home for their rooms.
We also watched the wheel making demonstration. This was also really quite busy and we were cold standing around so we didn’t watch the whole show.
Go bowling at Empire Bowling Saloon at Sovereign Hill
This activity was super fun! We spent a little while here all having a go. There was a shorter bowling area for kids which was great as it did take some effort to get the ‘balls’ down!
Toffee Apples, Chocolate, Raspberry drops and more.
Sovereign Hill is well known for lollies and we thoroughly enjoyed the lolly making demonstration with a couple of samples each (of the still warm lollies).
The lolly shop on the main street had a long (very long) line the whole day! It was crazy We found toffee apples and raspberry drops at another stall towards the end of the day.
AURA at Sovereign Hill
I actually had no idea what I had booked when I booked these tickets ha! I thought they were part of the main Christmas in July winter activities so we were pleasantly surprised to have another activity!
The show follows ‘gold’ from its creation (it start with a movie which to be honest I nearly fell asleep through yikes), right up to the current day. This is a Eureka Stockade story told across the 90 minute show in a variety of locations around Sovereign Hill.
Show goers are transported around the grounds in custom designed cars (think Jurassic Park ha). There were a couple of scenes where I found interests were fading a little (kids). But on the whole, this was a great addition to our time at Sovereign Hill, a spectacular show in different settings and a chance to remember things we learnt all those years ago at school!
Note that photgraphy is not allowed.
Other things to do at Sovereign Hill
Ride a horse drawn coach – sadly the lines were too long for the horse drawn coach. Much to Olive’s disappointment. She still asks weekly if we can go back again for this activity!
Play dress ups at Sovereign Hill with kids – This is another activity that we missed. It wasn’t high on my list (with so many other things to try and see and do) but from very early on in the day there was a sign on the photographers day saying they were fully booked.
Tips for Visiting Sovereign Hill with Kids
- There is Free parking on site (it filled up very quickly the day we visited before opening time).
- The roads are dirt based, and can be wet and muddy. Wear sensible shoes.
- Gumboots, waterproof shoes and show boots are not out of the question during winter! I wore my snow boots and my feet were toasty warm the whole day.
- If you want to try the horse and coach ride, get your tickets early as it usually gets busy.
- Book your mine tickets as soon as you arrive.
- There was no bag check upon arrival and we packed snacks and lunch for the day (although there are plenty of food options).
- I found the Sovereign Hill website a little hard to navigate in the beginning
- There is a playground outside the Sovereign Hill café. It was busy when we stumbled across it later in the day. But it is easy to avoid if you don’t want to visit as it is not visible from anywhere else.
Have you been to Sovereign Hill with kids? Do you agree that it is one of Australia’s best outdoor museums? Another interactive family friendly place we have also visted in Metal Art World, closer to home in Port Melbourne.
Check out some of our other Victorian adventures – Jamieson, Beechworth, Anakie Gorge Walk and more 🙂
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