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Sovereign Hill Camp



On the last day of October, Year 5/6 headed off to Ballarat for their camp at Sovereign Hill. All of the 5/6’s squeezed on board the school bus, driven by Mrs Beamish, and headed off to Ballarat. It was a very noisy trip as all the kids were buzzing with excitement.

Upon arrival at Sovereign Hill, we checked our bags into our accommodation and broke off into 4 groups with Miss Annie, Mrs Beamish, Bec and Jake. After we had some lunch we hit the gold panning straight away. There wasn’t much to be found, so we got the red hot tip to come back first thing in the morning. After the gold panning we had an educational session called ‘Gold Fever’. The students were split into groups of miners, with Brandon and Caitlin as the mean, money-hungry bankers and Caleb and Rita as the police, checking for licences and sending people to gaol (also pocketing money as they were greedy and corrupt!). It was a great insight into how unfair life was on the diggings, eventually leading to the Eureka Stockade uprising.

We then headed to the Red Hill Mine Tour, where we got to experience how life was underground in the mines. It was dark and dusty, and we learned about the ‘Welcome Nugget’ which was one of the biggest nuggets to be found in the world. After that we went to our cabins and unpacked our bags, completed some diary writing and prepared for a delicious dinner at the New York Bakery of fish and chips, then a trip to the Ballarat Aquatic Centre for a night of fun on the Inflatable Obstacle Course and Gladiator Pole.

The next morning after breakfast we headed straight to the gold panning and managed to find a few specks to satisfy our gold fever. Next we watched a confectionery making demonstration and were given a sample of blackberry drops – yum! We then saw how candles were made in the 1850’s – today’s version of sweet-smelling wax was a much better version of the animal fats that were used back in the early days. We were then treated to a delicious lunch of pies and pasties from the Hope Bakery and headed off in our groups for gold panning or looking through the shops and houses, to get a glimpse of life in the 1850’s.

The Secret Chamber Mine was next on the agenda and we hopped into a small train with little carts. It went deep underground and was pitch black. We learned about what life was like for the early Chinese settlers and saw real gold in deep underground mines. It was a wonderful tour. We also saw a gold pour demonstration, where the gold was smelted at 1200 degrees Celsius and was poured into a bar mould. The value of the gold was $170,000. Unfortunately we couldn’t get our hands on it!

After another delicious dinner, this time at the very fancy Charlie Napier Hotel, pasta followed by chocolate mousse, we settled into the theatre for a pantomime about the life of Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade. This was followed by a disco with the Aireys Inlet Primary School students.

Day 3 started a bit later, as we had some very tired boys and girls by that stage. We packed our rooms and had a quick breakfast, before heading to the Gold Museum where we had a talk from the museum Educator about how gold was found around Ballarat; in creeks and rivers and later in deep underground mines. In the museum we saw a piece of the Eureka Flag, dresses and men’s clothes from the 1850’s and all sorts of things that people used in that time, including items they used for mining gold. We even saw a real gold license. Our last couple of hours at Sovereign Hill were spent in our groups, gold panning, bowling or doing our last minute shopping. The bus trip home was considerably more quiet than it was on the way there.

We had a wonderful time at camp. It was full of laughs, lollies, gold, history and friends. Great memories to take with us for ever.

We would like to thank Annie, Bec and Jake for giving up their own family time to attend the camp. It is a huge responsibility to look after the students for days and nights and we can’t thank them enough for their contributions.

Kate Beamish

Year 5/6 Teacher






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