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Background of Sovereign Hill

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How it Began

Sovereign Hill was officially opened to the public on Sunday 29 November, 1970.

In the 1960s, the Ballarat community recognised the need to preserve the historic buildings of the city, but at the same time envisaged an outdoor museum that would capture some of the diversity and vibrancy of the goldrush era. From this vision, Sovereign Hill was born!

Sovereign Hill is an internationally renowned, award-winning outdoor museum operated by The Sovereign Hill Museums Association, a not-for-profit, community-based organisation. This means that operating profits are invested back into the museum so that we can provide new experiences and encourage visitors to return, time and time again.

Our visitors are encouraged to try hands-on activities, and their visit is enhanced by the presence of costumed staff portraying real characters and stories of the 1850s Gold Rush.

Providing opportunities for visitors to interact with Sovereign Hill’s costumed goldfields characters and encouraging participation in a range of activities are central elements of the living history experience.

Sovereign Hill has an equivalent full-time staff of 200 and has access to another 300 volunteers known as Friends of Sovereign Hill who occupy many of the tents, huts and cottages scattered throughout the recreated Diggings and Township.

Sovereign Hill contributes an estimated $35 million annually to the local economy and was judged Victoria’s Major Tourist Attraction at the 2003 and 2004 Victorian Tourism Awards.

A visit to Sovereign Hill is more than just a day out. It’s an intriguing journey into one of the most exciting times in Australia’s history.