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Costumed Schools

Dressed in 19th century-style clothing, and using classrooms and equipment typical of the era, upper primary students experience two memorable days in one of our five themed schools as they role-play the lives of goldfields students and develop an understanding of social conditions during the great Victorian gold rushes. Each school has a distinct theme and character reflecting the differing forms of education offered at the time.

The Costumed School experience is a two-day educational program conducted from 9am to 3.15pm on two consecutive days for students in upper primary levels.

On arrival on Day 1, our teachers (in role) spend some time orientating the children about the historical context of their goldfields school experience, costume policies and general expectations. Our teachers and the visiting teachers will then supervise the costuming of students.

When in costume, students will be taken on a familiarisation walk around Sovereign Hill’s Outdoor Museum, noting the variety of dwellings, occupations and life-styles. During this time, visiting teachers will have their roles explained and be fitted with costumes at the Sovereign Hill Costume Department. Visiting teachers then re-join the class in their new roles. 

After their walk, students will be taken to their schools where they will undertake a range of lessons and activities that may include copperplate writing with slate pencils, arithmetic, sewing (girls), drawing (boys), reading, poetry and geography. Ragged School students will be able to learn trades taught by various people around the township.

On the second morning, we will explore the township further and include some time for gold panning and visiting the Gold Smelting Works. The day will continue after morning recess with pen and ink writing and a likely visit from the district inspector, vicar, priest or doctor depending which of our schools the students are in. For Red Hill, St Peter’s and St Alipius students, Day 2 is fee payment day where the teachers will collect the fees (or offers in kind) from the students before the end of the day. Ragged School students will continue their trades program on Day 2.

Australian curriculum
The Sovereign Hill School’s costumed program links beautifully with Year 5 Humanities and Social Science ‘Australian communities - their past, present and possible futures’. 
Australian Curriculum HASS Level 5 description.

Helpful links


As authenticity and role-play are central to the success of the program, it is essential that both teachers and students are well prepared before arrival and that great care is taken over correct costuming and appropriate historically-accurate behaviour.

The surprise element of this role-play program is most important. When you are preparing children for the experience, don’t reveal all the detail of the program if you have been before. The most important thing is that children know that they will be in role at all times, as will their teachers.

The key preparation for students to ensure full engagement in the program is the preparation of student letters of introduction. Writing these prior to the visit will greatly assist students to develop their roles. See the ‘Letters of Introduction’ page for ideas and examples of letters.


To enhance the role play experience students are encouraged to bring payment for their education (unless attending Ragged School). Click here information and examples of fees.


$46.00 for schools
$23.60 entry to Sovereign Hill
$11.00 materials used in the schools
$11.40 hire and dry cleaning of student’s costume

$39.40 for affiliated schools
$17.00 entry to Sovereign Hill
$11.00 materials in the schools
$11.40 hire and dry cleaning of student’s costume

$40.00 costume hire for adults
Dry cleaning and costume hire for adults with a limit of three adults for each of our schools.

Mine tours (optional)
$3.50 per student for Secret Chamber or Trapped

All prices, with exception of entry to Sovereign Hill include GST.

Infant School Program

The Infant School Program is a special one-day program offered by invitation to schools from the local Ballarat area. It operates on a limited basis in the Red Hill National School and is designed for Year 2 students only. Local schools will be contacted and invited to apply in Term 1, 2020. The current price for the infant school is $23.00.


Schools who stay on-site at Sovereign Hill Hotel must negotiate their catering with Sovereign Hill on confirmation of their booking.

Local schools and schools who are not staying on-site are welcome to contact Sovereign Hill Education to discuss options for catering during their visit.

Please contact 03 5337 1188 or email


The Sovereign Hill Hotel offers a variety of on-site accommodation options. Clean, comfortable and secure, these rooms are very popular with school groups. Requests for accommodation (where required) are included in the Costumed School Program application and will be processed at the same time.


The Red Hill Photographic Rooms photograph all classes and students who attend the Sovereign Hill School costumed programs. (Please advise us if you do not want photography.)

Schools have two options for student photography:

Option 1:
Pre-order photographs booking form Pre-ordered photographs can be collected before you leave, saving on postage. Schools who pre-order will receive complimentary photographs of each group and free teacher portraits.

Option 2: Photographs are uploaded to a secure website. Parents are provided with a password allowing them to order and pay for photographs and postage online.

To ensure that pre-booked sessions run to time, no private photography is to occur during this activity.

View and order photos from your visit to Sovereign Hill.

Booking information

Bookings for the Sovereign Hill Costumed Schools programs are made directly to the school. We operate an annual booking cycle, which aims to ensure that all schools have an equal opportunity to secure a booking for this very popular experience.

Bookings for the Sovereign Hill School Costumed Schools programs are opened each year in Term 1 for the subsequent year. For example, bookings for 2020 programs opened on 29 January 2019.

The programs are in great demand, and schools are advised to submit applications as early as possible.

Booking process 2021

All schools on our mailing list will be invited to complete an online Booking Request Form for our 2021 programs on 28th January 2020.

Requests will be processed in order of receipt according to the Sovereign Hill School Booking Policy and no applications will be accepted prior to this date. Schools are strongly advised to apply promptly to increase the likelihood of securing a booking and preferred dates.

We will process the applications in early Term 2 and schools will then be advised of outcomes. The allocation process is completed in conjunction with Sovereign Hill so that requests for accommodation can be coordinated with program bookings.

Mailing list
All schools on our mailing list will receive information regarding booking processes each year and will be invited to apply for bookings after the opening date each year. If you would like to be included on our mailing list or to check or amend your schools details, please contact us on 03 53371143 or email

Group sizes
The maximum number of students per costumed school should be limited to 30. This can be negotiated in exceptional circumstances. When booking, please ensure your estimate of numbers includes any projected growth for your school. Underestimating numbers can cause significant problems.

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