Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat: Hours, Address, Sovereign Hill Reviews: 4.5/5

Sovereign Hill
Historic Sites • History Museums
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
At Sovereign Hill, the story of an important time and place in Australian History, and the people who lived it, lives on. An internationally acclaimed tourist attraction, Sovereign Hill prides itself on its close attention to detail found in every aspect of this living, outdoor museum. Sovereign Hill is a glimpse of the vigour and excitement of life on Australia’s 1850s goldfields. Visitors can find real gold in the creek – gold pans are provided and it’s ‘finders keepers’, see $150,000 worth of molten gold poured into a gleaming bar, and take in the rich program of activities, shows and demonstrations. On Main Street there are working shops, hotels and a theatre – all based on original Ballarat businesses. Visitors are able to watch goldfields tradespeople in action and take a ride around the township in a horse-drawn coach. For the brave hearted, journey underground on a gold mine tour.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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3,714 reviews
Very good

Gold Coast, Australia27,502 contributions
Sovereign Hill
Apr. 2021
I brought my kids here years ago, but the return as a mature solo traveler was underwhelming. They were catering for massive school groups on this day, and had blocked off many attractions to cater just to them..... The light show was planned, but also only for the schools groups. Just not good enough
Written 4 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Melbourne, Australia610 contributions
One of the best events in Ballarat
Jun. 2021 • Family
Always a good day a d night out .
The winter Festival of Lights was on and I had low expectations but this was remarkable in the dark cold windy rainy night with bubble snow and the buildings incredibly decorated in light patterns and thousands of fairy lights everywhere, was a great night out .
Written 17 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Drouin, Australia305 contributions
What a great day.
Jul. 2021 • Family
This was my 50th birthday celebration. We had a group off 30 people and boy we had a great day. A big thank you to Keeley for helping make my day fantastic by helping me organise a private luncheon with in the Sovereign Hill buildings, if you have a celebration thus is a very unique way to have a party. Thank you to The Kooks and the servers and everybody who helped organise my lunch. My family had a photo taken so thank you very very much for the photos thank you to the lady in the photography rooms he squeeze me in knowing it was my birthday and I really appreciate the photographers and everything they did. We did the winter wonderland night-time show as well and it is spectacular the kids loved it the adults loved it we had ages from six-month-old all the way to a 78 year old and everybody loved it. Would recommend a day at Sovereign Hill for anyone it is a fantastic place to visit and we need to keep our Australian history alive. If you go in winter rug up it gets cold very very cold.
Written 13 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Madeline B
2 contributions
Question re Sovereign Hill
Jul. 2021
We tried for the last 2 weekends to get to the Winter Wonderland at Sovereign Hill trying to book a few weeks in advance and just could not get tickets. Obviously limited to weekends due to weekday work (and post another lockdown), we should have booked months in advance. We called several times and could not get through either and left messages and never had our calls returned. If we go after the 18 July, are we missing anything besides the 'snow' and illuminated buildings? Do they still do the mine tours and re-enactments that were on the daily schedule for the Winter Wonderland?
Written 11 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Amy H
2 contributions
Awesome time
Jul. 2021 • Family
Had an amazing time here so much to do and see had a blast the kids loved it the only thing we missed out on was the gold mine tour and the gold finding but we will be back to do that this place is definitely recommended so much fun and so much to do
Written 10 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Warrnambool, Australia3 contributions
A magical day out for the family
Jul. 2021 • Family
Thank you Sovereign Hill for the most amazing day out for our young family. It has been a while since we have been able to travel anywhere and I think everyone had the same idea as it was so busy there today.

After reading some reviews, we decided to arrive early and made sure we did the candle dipping, bowling alley and Lolly factory early. We missed out on the show in the Theatre but there was plenty happening to keep the kids occupied.

We got a pass out and left just after lunch to return to our hotel for a rest and freshen up and then went back in at 5.30 - just when the lights came on for the Winter wonderland. It was so magical - the look on our kids faces was priceless and to see so much joy around us was really special. One of the staff suggested we make our way to do the fairy lights on the cottages first. This was great advice as the Main Street was really busy when the show started. We also decided to go back to the bowling alley and it was almost empty so the kids had another bowl which they loved.

Thank you Sovereign Hill for a great family day out. It’s a shame there are negative comments on here. It seems that the staff are doing the very best they can under the circumstances. I’m sure they would have had to let go a lot of staff when they were closed during covid.

We will be back next year!
Written 10 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ballarat, Australia2 contributions
Magical Winter Wonderlights!!!
Jul. 2021 • Family
We decided this year we would buy a family pass as we are local and thought it might be worthwhile as we visited in 2019 (I hadn’t been since 1993 prior to this) when our children were 2 & 4 and they loved it, we missed out last year (as did everyone) so we have jumped on it this year and I am so pleased we did. Our son truly believes that sovereign hill is a town that cowboys live in. He tries to explain TVs and how he lives differently and the staff play the part so well, acting confused, asking him to explain etc, never skipping a beat and always entertaining. We can spend all day and our children never get bored. It is understandably busy during the weeks of the winter wonderlights so we prioritise some things as there can be some wait times. I imagine people should be very tolerant of this given it’s sovereign hills busiest time of the year. The winter wonderlights are absolutely MAGICAL!!! I cannot put into words just how wonderful and enchanting this is! To my horror our children laid on the ground and did snow angels - this is fake snow, detergent like bubbles settling on the dirt so….mud from from heel to head!!! We had to laugh, what else could you do! We are booked again for Sunday and can’t wait! I imagine we will be buying a family pass for next year too. I can’t believe we ignored our neighbour sovereign hill for all those years prior.Absolutely 5 stars from me!
Written 8 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bundoora, Australia7 contributions
Planning Tips
Jul. 2021
There is a lot to do at Sovereign Hill - more than you can fit in to one day. So I would suggest looking at the activities on the website before you arrive and working out what is most important to you. Then make a schedule so that you can fit it all in. If you think you can just roll up at any time you like and wander around, you're probably going to miss out on a lot of good stuff. And I suspect the people who have left poor reviews took this approach. This is the schedule I followed to ensure that my family (2A, 3C - 14, 12, 9) got to do the things we wanted to do.

9:55 - arrive, park close to the entrance, join the queue with our prebooked tickets. Have the ticket bar code ready to go on the phone. QR code in. Queue moves fast and we're in within about 7 minutes.

10:02 - 1 family member went straight to the photography shop to book the family old time photo. There was already a queue at the shop and the earliest time slot we could get was 2:00pm.

10:15 - go to lolly shop to buy raspberry drops and other lollies. No queue. Stuff them in the bag to be eaten later in the day.

10:20 - go to gold pour building and get 3 tickets for the 11:00am gold pour.

10:30 - watch toffee apples being made in the confectionery factory

10:45 - go to candle shop and buy two candles for candle dipping. No queue.

11:00 - 3 family members go to the gold pour. 2 family members join the queue for the 11am pantomime. Panto goes from 1130 - 1215.

After the gold pour one family member went to the Hope Bakery for a sausage roll and to get our lunch bag from the car.

1215 - 1:00 - eat lunch on the main street

1:00 - watch Trooper musket firing

1:15 - 1:30 - play at the playground

1:30 - 1:50 - pan for gold at the diggings

1:55 - go the photographers for our family photo

2:30 - 4:30 - one family member went to the car for a rest. Two family members queued for about 30 minutes to do the Red Hill Mine Tour. The other two family members looked in the shops, ate tasty things and pottered about.

4:30 - watch the redcoat soldiers firing their rifles from the balcony of the hotel

5:30 - fairy lights came on, wandered around the cottages and gardens enjoying the lights.

5:45 - 6:45 - positioned ourselves at the top of the hill, and wandered through the Winter Wonderlights, mostly against the flow of the crowd.

In addition to the the above, we also ducked in for a look at the Blacksmith, the wheelmaker, washing day at the cottages, and the fire fighters.

We intentionally didn't do the coach ride, a paid mine tour or bowling because these things were not of interest to our family. If we wanted to do them, I would have done them early otherwise the queues get too long.

Yes, it's a big day but you can take a break in a restaurant, the playground or even sitting in the car if you need it. I like the 'divide and conquer' approach so that no-one has to endure an activity they don't like and you can use time more efficiently. If you're a family who likes to do everything together this strategy won't work so well.
Written 8 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Victoria, Australia1 contribution
Jul. 2021 • Family
The worst experience I have ever had at a tourist attraction.
I asked my kids what was the most important thing for them to do today. My son wanted to go on the self guided mine tour and have a toffee apple. All my daughter wanted was to see Beauty and the Beast. Seemed simple enough
We had a quick pan for gold but could not find any info on HOW to do it. No staff to show us how.
Waited in line half an hour where we thought we could buy toffee apples.. it was where they made them.. Waited in line 60 minutes at lollie shop they were sold out of toffee apples! Half an hour for a sausage sausage rolls. Waited in line for the 2.15 theatre for 45 minutes couldn't get in.Tried to go back to mine tour at 3.they shut it down till 4.20 which would cause us to miss the theatre we had already missed by 10 people. Came back for the 5pm show at 4. Got clicked in YES. We would have a seat...BUT .there was a show over the theatre building which messed up the line...WE missed seeing this show because we were in line.. and because people were all gathered at the entrance of the theatre 30 people pushed into the line..which meant 30 of us who were told we had a seat were turned away!! We were 4 from the front of the line then. I was shattered, kids were shattered and the poor lady who was counting in was devastated! It was so poorly managed! Not fair to us or her!
So easily tickets could be handed to people who arrive early and wait as they are clicked in...but no..pot luck . and then throw a show in that exact spot on the street to mess it up further. If we'd known we would miss the theatre we could have gone to the mine tour. .. instead we missed everything!
Dejected we thought panning for gold would ..but no...that closed then too.
The one good thing about the day, the Sovereign Hill Policeman read my face ( all the disappointment) and spent 10 minutes showing my son how to pan for gold. I appreciated his effort tremendously. That 10 minutes of kindness out of a day full of disappointment helped us get on with it.
With 4000 tickets sold they would have taken roughly $140,000 on entry alone!!! But skeleton staff who could not possibly ensure guests enjoyed themselves. ..activities run smoothly. One lovely lady cannot be expected to crowd control 200 people in a theatre line.
As others have said everything was sold out.
Obviously this crap happens constantly and they just don't care!
I feel all we can do is let people know and eventually they will Have to do something so people will visit.
Almost 5 hours driving, $150to spend an entire day wondering aimlessly or standing in line...only to be disappointed. So much money wasted for a sad day.
Insult to injury I've just checked my bank statement and was double charged for lunch.
Written 7 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mia k
1 contribution
Bring your warmest clothes, book all the extras before you get there. Prepare to wait in a cue. Do the mine tour!
Jul. 2021 • Family
It was absolutely freezing and raining when we got there. Make sure gloves and scarves and umbrellas are taken! Kids were starving so we tried the New York Bakery. But its more of a restaurant than a bakery, and kids didn't like any of the food so we grabbed some amazing sausage rolls from the Hope Bakery. It was just way too cold to eat them outside in the rain. We found an inside modern cafe next to the playground which was warm and had coffee and hot chocolate. Highly recommend if you get stuck in the rain. Horse carriage rides were sold out. They need to make their website clearer so you know to book this in advance as an extra cost not included in the ticket. Confectionary tour a complete waste of time. Do not go! Waited 20 mins in line. Only 40 pple allowed in at once. When we got in there the guy vaguely said we will let you know when we have set up. We? The girl who did the last tour disappeared. He was there alone and we watched him for 20 mins, cruising in and out. Stirring a pot. Then leaving again. Coming back, emptying the bin, then leaving again. It was like we were just watching a worker, it was the strangest thing. 30 mins in and my kids were so restless and begging to go, not wondering why the demonstration had not started yet, just wanting to go. Worst ever! The Goldfields mine was sold out but we went to the Redhill mine instead. Waited 1 hr in line. But it was completely worth it. It was a highlight for the kids! As was the gold panning. The Winter Wonderland is not a highlight. Its bubbles in the air for a few mins, not snow. Never saw any Christmas elves or Santa. Fairy lights around the houses were nice. But its not a proper xmas experience. At one stage kids saw a Xmas tree and asked why it was there? It was forgettable that it was meant to be a winter xmas theme. If we go back again I would book the extras in advance, like the horse carriage rides and gold pouring.
Written 4 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Sovereign Hill is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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