Australia’s foremost outdoor museum, Sovereign Hill takes history to a whole new level and allows visitors to get a real taste of the country's gold rush era. Travelers can wander the streets of this iconic 25-hectare settlement, a reproduction of an 1850s mining town, and pop into carefully crafted houses, shops and trade stores.
The township of over 60 historically recreated buildings revolves around Red Hill Mine, the source of the second-largest gold nugget in the world. The 152-pound (69-kg) Welcome Nugget was almost 99% pure gold and worth over $3 million, and visitors can see a replica at the museum. Travelers can also experience the thrill of panning for gold, take in a live theater show or antique musket firing demonstration, or choose from one of dozens of other daily offerings at Sovereign Hill.
Local staff members dressed in costume and character on Main Street add to the authenticity of a day spent in the 1850s and make traveling back in time feel like a real possibility. A blacksmith’s workshop, photography studio, apothecary, bakery, jewelry shop, and library all line the main road, offering replica merchandise from the era.
Sovereign Hill is about 90 minutes from Melbourne via the Western Highway. It is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily and until 5:30 p.m. during daylight savings. Entry to the community, including admission to the Gold Museum, is $52.50 for adults, $23.80 for children ages 5 to 15 and $132 for families (two adults and up to four children).