Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Friday 16th April 2004 to Sunday 18th April 2004

Friday 16th April 2004

Not such an early start this morning but we did get ourselves organised and had a slice of toast or two for breakfast before preparing to visit Sovereign Hill for the days activities.

As it was only about three or four hundred metres from the caravan park, we walked to Sovereign Hill at about 10:30am. As we had previously booked and paid for our entry, we collected our tickets and walked through a door to a world as it was about one hundred and fifty years ago on the goldfields of Ballarat (albeit that it was also full of tourists!).

It is not just a set of building facades that resemble the old streets, they are fully operational buildings being run with equipment that was used at the time of the gold rush (with the exception of electricity for lighting) and all items on sale in the various shops has been manufactured within Sovereign Hill using the old traditional methods. The quality of some of the items is just amazing. However this does not have any resemblance to a commercial tourist site that pushes it's products for profit, the whole place has been designed to take people back to the gold rush era and for them to be able to sample a little of the life back then.

Visitors could watch people in period costume use 1850's equipment to create items of that time, such as confectionary, household items, metal and wooden products and watch a blacksmith turn out various tools and working items.

The 'other one' was almost left on his own after this visit because 'one of us' said she was totally 'Blown Away', that it has been one of the highlights of our travels so far and there is still the night show 'Blood on the Southern Cross' to see yet.

We sampled many things, including olde worlde humbugs, sugared almonds, licorice, turkish delight and strawberry cream chocolate from a confectionary shop and finished of with scones with jam and cream at the New York Bakery. (You can easily see why 'one of us' enjoyed it so much!) Due to the expense of these items, we had to recoup some of it by purchasing a gold license and then pan for gold in the stream running through the diggings. We managed to find glitter on the bottom of the pan and guess what.... IT WAS GOLD! The proof of this is in a small clear bottle that we have placed in tight security in our caravan. (I have to confess to purchasing a small bag of mine dust that had been salted though, but it was still gold.)

As it is still school holidays here, there were a very large number of children having an absolute ball all day because so much of it is hands on and so different from anything they would have experienced before. This is one place anybody who gets the chance, should never miss!

We returned to the caravan after 4pm so we could organise dinner,get the web site prepared and e-mail sent before returning at 7:45pm to see 'Blood on the Southern Cross'. More on that tomorrow.

Main Street - Sovereign Hill

Yahoo!!! Gold!

Saturday 17th April 2004

'Blood on the Southern Cross', played out within the Sovereign Hill precinct tells the story of the Eureka Stockade. This is a rather unique presentation that is performed with lights and sound, but does not have people involved in the actual displaying of the story. First there is a short video presentation in an auditorium to set the scene and give some background on the Ballarat goldfields around the 1850's. Then the audience walk outside to the gold panning area which depicts part of the goldfields and a story is told using sounds and narration through speakers set out around the area. Changing light, both coloured and flashing, made it even more dramatic with the use of smoke generated throughout the area in time with the lights and story. The presentation continues a few metres on in the same area as the story builds the scene prior to the miners rebellion against the tyranny of the local government troops and police.

The next move is made in modern open passenger carriages that are towed through Sovereign Hill to an area that is not open to the public during the day visits, the audience then alight and take seats in another auditorium with closed front panels. When it is time to resume, the front panels open and the story continues with the same style of presentation being used, looking over a different open stage area that depicts the location of the Eureka Stockade itself and surrounds. It including the the Eureka Hotel that was owned by an ex convict and real rogue by the name of Bentley. (His wife wasn't too precious either!) It is within this area that the battle of the Eureka Stockade is portrayed (the actual conflict only lasted 15 minutes) and another page was made in Australian history.

From this area the audience all boarded the carriages again and returned to the main street of Sovereign Hill where a lone person (dressed in 1850's attire) presented an epilogue to the story from the balcony of the hotel. The whole show lasted at least one and a half hours and for the second time on the same day, 'one of us' was 'blown away' again. Anybody driving past Ballarat that doesn't stop to visit Sovereign Hill and the presentation of 'Blood on the Southern Cross' will have missed a spectacular experience. 'One of us' was so awed by it all, to settle down she had to have a couple of glasses of wine when we arrived back at the caravan.

Today we took it a bit easier, visiting Wendouree lake which is lacking a lot of water at this time but is a very pretty place when full (Having seen it that way back in 1993 when conferencing hard for the Blue Light Association). Near the Lake is the Ballarat Botanical Gardens so we took a walk through them and a few photographs resulted from that. Of particular interest was a small pavilion that contained five very fine marble statues that were donated to the Ballarat people from a collection way back in 1888. From there we visited the Eureka Stockade Centre which has been established to display the events surrounding the Eureka Stockade.

Tomorrow will see us moving from Ballarat up to Echuca for another two or three nights. But right now it is time for the traditional pre dinner drink.

'One of us' in Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Flight from Pompeii

Sunday 18th April 2004

Today saw us move from Ballarat to Echuca, departing the caravan park at about 10:15am and due to road works is Ballarat, we found ourselves wandering about the outskirts of the city before finding our way onto the Midlands Highway heading north.

We made our way through Cresswick, Newlyn and Eganstown before arriving in Daylesford which is a very picturesque town that boasts mineral springs and a great sunday market. However as we were on time restrictions we couldn't stop and enjoy all it has to offer. (This is another town visited previously whilst on Blue Light conference duties in 1993.)

From Daylesford we traveled though Guildford, Campbells Creek and the outskirts of Castlemain where we turned off to Maldon. We stopped in Maldon to have lunch and walk the streets of this historic town. It was a hive of activity with almost all shops open and doing a brisk trade with all the tourists and day visitors present.

From Maldon we made our way back through Lockwood and Kangaroo Flat to Bendigo, then Epsom, Goornong, Elmore and Rochester before arriving at Echuca, where we booked in to the Echuca Caravan Park. This park is located about three hundred metres from the Port of Echuca, where the paddle steamers depart.

After settling in we walked to the port and booked a paddle steamer cruise on the PS Canberra for 11:30 tomorrow. This cruise takes us to a winery where we will enjoy lunch before returning to Echuca Port at about 3:pm.

After this we returned to the caravan and sat outside enjoying the warmth and a drink before preparing for our nightly routine.

A yard full of gnomes - Maldon

Main Street of Maldon