Tag Archives: Melbourne

The Royal Melbourne Show

22 Feb

The Royal Melbourne Show is more than a carnival event for kids – it is a one-stop event for family and for tourists visiting Melbourne around mid-September or October. DSC_0001 Some our friends from Melbourne actually shrugged off the idea when I asked them if it was worth going to this event, but I was really interested in going anyway so we still gave it a go.. Animal shows, live music, art, craft & cookery competitions, stunt shows, fireworks, a glimpse of the Masterchef kitchen, and so many more activities – you name it, and this event would probably have it. It has something to offer for each person in the family, so it is worth having the family spend a day together here. 20140924_131024 As a Masterchef Australia enthusiast, I enjoyed going to the Masterchef pavilion the most. DSC_0413
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20140924_132811 We got to see the kitchen and pantry up-close, and we were even able to see Emma from season 5 and Byron from season 6. DSC_0414

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DSC_0440 My next favorite would have to be the sheep-shearing demonstration, as it was my first time seeing this done. I know being sheared is just similar to us humans getting a haircut, but I couldn’t help but feel pity on those poor little things.. DSC_0003

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In addition to sheep-shearing, there are other agricultural experiences like wood chopping, cow-milking, and honey-making.

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For animal lovers out there, there are animal (alpaca, dog, cat, horse, goat, sheep, cattle, etc) shows throughout the event.

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I am not a pet lover but I enjoyed having a look at the dogs, so I imagine dog lovers out there would love a visit to the pavilion housing the canines waiting for their turn in the dog show.

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Though we did not get to see the actual art, craft and culinary competition, the entries were on display for us to have a look. There were amazing pictures in the photo exhibit. I especially enjoyed seeing the different creative cakes on display.

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Amazing cake showing different places in Australia

Amazing cake showing different places in Australia

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For food lovers, there are plenty of food-tasting opportunities.

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For TV enthusiasts, you will have a chance to pretend to be a contestant in X-factor or Million Dollar Minute.

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Hubby and I trying to have a go on answering questions for Million Dollar Minute. Behind us are brave ladies playing anchors for the local news

Hubby and I trying to have a go on answering questions for Million Dollar Minute. Behind us are brave ladies playing anchors for the local news.

You can have a go at playing anchor in the local news channel and get to take home an actual recording of yourself delivering a news item. We didn’t have the confidence and time to do this, but for brave souls out there, this would be a blast and a good keepsake of the experience 🙂

Lastly, the majority of the show is ultimately devoted to the kiddies.. So I can’t end my post without saying that there are a lot of rides the kids will enjoy – animal rides and thrill rides. Plus tons of show bags for taking home! It really is mainly a carnival, after all 😉

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We arrived before lunch, and went home without even having a chance to check out the musical shows and other attractions (there really were so many things to see and do). But it was getting dark and our feet could not bear the standing and walking anymore, so we had to call it a day.

Aussie Animals Down Under: Up, Close and Personal

31 Oct

DSC_0255   Feeding encounters with Aussie animals in the zoo? Yep, those are quite common. But I must say that I haven’t experienced (or for my case, witnessed :P) a more ‘personal’ encounter with the wildlife here than what me and my sister were blessed to have one cool, sunny day at Phillip Island Wildlife Park. What do I mean by ‘personal’? Maybe the following pictures will help explain 🙂 DSC_0295 DSC_0281 Yep, that’s right, the wallaby and the grey kangaroo in the photos did not just feed off my sister’s hand, but they were actually holding her hand with their own paws while munching on their treats 😉 They must have been afraid that my sister will run off with their snack! =D It was not an easy encounter to have, as it actually takes a bit of time before these animals warm up to you and let you bond with them up close (yes, it was vital to follow the advise of the zookeeper to feed them AT KNEE LEVEL. Anne learned that the hard way :P) But once they do, boy, they can turn out to be a greedy and aggressive lot LOL DSC_0278 DSC_0252 And sadly for the feathery folks in the zoo, people tend to focus on feeding the furry kind.. Hence, the photo above of the huge bird trying to nick some of the snacks Anne was trying to feed the kangaroo 😛   Another memorable moment for us was when we heard someone suddenly exclaimed that there was a joey hanging on to its mother kangaroo! DSC_0272   We quickly looked around and lo and behold, we saw a tiny head sticking out of its mum’s belly 🙂 I was really quite pleased with our visit to this park. After all, Phillip Island Wildlife Park does not give a very good impression when just passing by or looking at the park from the outside. Contrary to the photos in this post, from the outside, everything just looks brown/gray and old.. So you definitely won’t be expecting a lot from the place. That’s why it will be a pleasant surprise to visitors how interesting and unique this park is from among other wildlife attractions. We haven’t even been to the grey kangaroo area, but we were already surprised to find a wallaby just hanging around the visitor boardwalk in the koala area – DSC_0145 DSC_0149 I also noted that it was in this park that I really got to see a lot of kangaroo activity, with a lot of ‘roos jumping around and hanging out with kids and adults. I’ve gone to quite a few where these animals would just lie on the grass, seemingly uninterested with the human activity around them. DSC_0267   DSC_0239 In addition to this, I think the best thing about the kangaroo area here is its greenery. There is an abundance of grass and trees around (so the view is much better than in Featherdale Park). The koala area did not disappoint as well, because there was actual movement here, as there was a koala moving across the tree branch when we went there – DSC_0169 DSC_0170 DSC_0171 But then, soon after these shots were taken, it was back to its usual lazy, sleeping pose on the tree 😛 LOL – DSC_0176 DSC_0175 So yeah, there’s not much fun and games in this bit of the zoo.. And it doesn’t help that my sister and I have just been from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, where I was blessed to have taken a video footage of really wild koala action (will post that soon when I get my hands on WordPress Premium 🙂 ). But still, I am really pleased with this visit as it was a one-stop shop for my sister to view animals that are native to Australia. She was able to feed an emu as well, which tickled her hand so much 😀 – emu   And for the first time in my Aussie life, I’ve actually been able to take a decent photo of an eastern quoll (which I saw in Tasmania, but was moving so quickly there that it was impossible to take a good shot) – DSC_0214 And last, but not the least, hooray to finally having good photos of a not-so-cute (since it’s huge) but seemingly cuddly (which is actually not, as wombats bite! so you have to feed them from the ground) wombat – DSC_0234 DSC_0229 DSC_0227 DSC_0233

Aztecs in Melbourne

6 Aug

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I’m no history buff but as an enthusiast of ancient civilizations, a few of my life-long dreams were to go to Egypt and see the pyramids, or go to Macchu Picchu in South America. So I was quite happy to have gone to the Aztecs exhibition in the Melbourne Museum a few weeks back. Let me quickly share with you my favourite photos from our visit.

The exhibition focused mainly on the ancient Mexican city-state Tenochtitlán, made obvious by the big model in the centre of a temple in the state.

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For a growing empire at that time, warriors held quite an important role –

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Religion played a huge part in their society, and it was interesting to learn about the different Aztec gods.

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I couldn’t help but be astounded by their portrayal of their god of death above, Mictlantecuhtli. Wondering what that thing hanging out, or rather, down, from his chest is? It’s his liver…

If you are faint of heart, you might find it incredibly gory looking around the exhibits, as most of the features talk about human sacrifice. Below is an actual human skeleton, which portrays the mask of death –

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One of the displays I liked the most are the miniature models of Aztec community life, shown in the photos below. These are very much similar to the tribal communities back home, I imagine.

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For double the usual amount you’ll need to pay to get into Melbourne Museum, I must say it is well-worth it. If my sharing above didn’t interest you enough, maybe the following can help –

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I’m quite happy with the photos here that I took with my Samsung Note 3. I came unprepared with my DSLR cam. It’s a good thing, thought, that this phone’s camera was useful to me this time, as I have been missing using my iPhone’s trusty camera… Apart from cropping some of the photos, I didn’t use filters or nor felt the need to edit them.

It’s the last week for the Aztec exhibition in Melbourne. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth spending some time in this part of the Melbourne Museum.

White Night Melbourne 2014

28 Feb

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Melbourne CBD braced itself on Saturday night for at least 300,000 people showing up in the city centre for White Night Melbourne 2014, following last year’s attendance, but the turn-out was overwhelming as about half a million people flocked to the city for the 7 PM to 7 AM festivities. The yearly festival, which originated from Nuit Blanche (White Night) in France, is free of charge, and is a 12-hour all-night extravaganza of arts, dance, film and music. It is only Melbourne’s second year holding this event, and with the overwhelming response this year, the city is exploring the option to make it an all-weekend event.

Law and I arrived at Flinders Street a few minutes before 7 PM, hoping to get on a tram to quickly get to Melbourne City Baths. I wanted to get to the Moonlight Synchro precinct to watch the synchronized swimming which starts at 7 PM. But to our dismay, we didn’t realize that they were stopping tram operations on Swanston Street at that time.

So we ended up walking up Swanston. Along the way, we can see crowds beginning to gather and people stationing their cameras in front of Flinders Street Station and the state library. There were several points of interest lined up along Swanston and queues were already forming.

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It felt exciting to see a lot of people turn up for this event. When we finally arrived at the City Baths, it was about 7:20 PM and there was an insanely long queue already. Thinking that the long line meant it was something really worth watching, we decided to queue up anyway.

So after a 45-minute wait, it turns out that this is what was in store for us –

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The presentation took about less than 5 minutes. I’m not sure about your thoughts on the photos above, but for me it wasn’t worth almost an hour of waiting.. Although I must say that I’m proud to have come up with a few decent photos from it, anyway 😛

By this time we were getting hungry so we headed off to the Gypsy Pig for a Japanese kurubota pork dinner. I had the crumbed breaded pork (tonkatsu) and Lawrence had their spicy pork ribs.

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Forgive the resolution of the photo, as it was taken outside the restaurant since we were only able to get a table outside because we didn’t book in advance 😛 Law frequents this place and would always have their crumbed pork. He tried the ribs for the first time and he liked that it was soooo tender that you can also nibble on the bone coz it was even softer than the actual pork. Seeing the red spice powder in his meat, he expected it to be spicy but it actually wasn’t. I liked that I didn’t have to put a lot of sauce in my tonkatsu, and the dressing for the shredded cabbage was quite good.

After dinner, we were then able to walk along the length of Swanston again, which was now packed from the State Library all the way towards Flinders Street. It was really a massive crowd, and somewhere along the way we even have to push our way through the jam-packed chaos.

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There were a lot of precincts scattered throughout the CBD, which cater to everyone’s interests. But the highlight of the night are the light displays. Different landmarks were transformed into works of art. The normally earthen-colored old bricks of facades came to life bursting with bright colours. There are multiple designs for each landmark, you have to spend a few minutes staring at each one to be able to see what themes the light designers have come up with.

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There were performers both indoor and outdoors, and dancing in the streets –

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As mentioned earlier, there were a lot of precincts to go to, and you could probably cover most of them throughout the night until the wee hours of the morning. But by about midnight, Law and I were so tired already so that all we can manage is to take one last souvenir shot of ourselves 🙂 –

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Again, forgive the resolution please as this was just taken using the front camera of my phone and it was so dark in that area that we actually used the iLights app on Law’s phone to light our faces up 😛

But to give you a glimpse of what other things were in store for people that night, I’ve grabbed a few photos from the White Night Melbourne Facebook page –

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Train service was extended until the morning so there is public transport going home at any time. But trains were jam-packed as well, and there were some pushing and crying that night (it was a scary, tiring night for little kids not used to big crowds)..

So there, hope I was able to help you decide if you want to go next year or not..  For someone like me who gets thrilled by events and don’t mind the crowd, it’s a yearly event I would surely go to.

Safari adventure, anyone?

12 Jan

If you enjoyed going to places like the night safari in Singapore or Zoobic Safari in the Philippines, you will find a day in Werribee’s open range zoo quite interesting.

The concept is similar – upon entry, you are entitled to a round of tram ride which takes you around their version of a safari, where animals prowl around in an open space. Then you can also walk around on your own and look at animals in enclosures.

Comparing these three places I’ve been to, I  can say that each has its own edge over the other two. The Singapore safari features more animals. The Philippine and Melbourne ones are open during  the day so you can actually see and take pictures better. Melbourne has a cool weather so it was quite pleasant to go around during the day (unlike in Zoobic, where it was sweltering to go about during the day). Both the Singapore and Philippine safaris feature quite entertaining animal and tribal shows (sorry Werribee, that serval cat presentation really disappoints.. please take this as a constructive criticism 😉 ). The Philippine one I think offers the best value for money (they charge your for about 1/3 the price of the ones in SG and AU :P) and actually allows you to experience camel and tiger feeding for free (although visitors are encouraged to purchase a chunk of chicken meat for tiger feeding). The Werribee one charges you triple the admission rate for close encounters with their animals!

We just opted for a basic visit in the open range zoo here. No close encounters, but had an interesting day anyway 😉

Sharing below my photos from our day in Werribee –

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The tigers were unfortunately taking a nap when we came to their area –

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One highlight of my day was our visit to the meerkats, I somehow just find them really cute. They remind me of King Julien in the cartoon movie Madagascar (King Julien was actually a lemur) 😀

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There are areas where kids can play about –

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As mentioned in my intro above, I was a bit disappointed with the serval cat presentation –

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No offense meant.. Maybe I’m just used to shows like the ones in the Philippines, like the ones below –

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Man performs a tribal dance of natives in the Philippines

Man performs a tribal dance of natives in the Philippines

And as I’ve also mentioned earlier, Zoobic Safari in the Philippines actually lets you experience feeding camels with no additional charge. Sharing below a pic of my family enjoying this experience –

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After visiting the Werribee Open Range Zoo, we paid a quick visit to the rose garden just beside the zoo, and Werribee mansion… But I wasn’t able to take any good shots as spring was just beginning and the flowers have not bloomed yet (yes, this is a late post once again.. a SUPER late one hihi). Will post when we do get to visit these places on a better time someday 😉

A Taste of Holland From Down Under

3 Oct

One of the things I like about Melbourne is that it’s a melting pot of different nationalities. The vibrant feel of the entire city is brought about by the variety of things people who have come from different places in the world has to offer.

Having said that, one can really be grateful that an immigrant family from Holland has brought to Victoria a glimpse of what a Dutch countryside looks like. They were able to bring a suitcase full of tulip bulbs to Australia when they migrated here in 1939 (back when there were no laws prohibiting bringing of seeds and flora ;)). The regular interest of crowds wanting to have a look at these unusual flowers has become so huge that Cees and Johanna Tesselaar decided to open their doors to the public, hence, starting an annual festival for these exquisite blooms.

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival runs from September 12 to October 8. There are different festivities scheduled for each weekend. Activities are held for both kids and adults, and so the whole family can come.

Law and I were able to find time to check-out the festival  on the 22nd of September, just in time for Dutch Weekend.

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Tulips are amazingly beautiful flowers. Although they don’t really smell nice like other flowers, their texture and lively colors are beyond compare. I know that roses are the most popular choices for flowers, but I’ve always been a tulip girl 🙂

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I expected the tulip fields to be more massive and the flower beds to be more packed, and so I was a bit disappointed to see about five lanes of tulip beds. Since the area wasn’t that big, it won’t take you a long time to cover the entire place. It’s a good thing that there are presentations and interesting shops and food booths that let you sample Dutch food.

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Had the privilege of trying on some giant clogs for my first-ever shoe selfie 😉 –

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The Dutch poffertjes are actually just miniature-sized pancakes. You can choose from several options for toppings and if you know me, you would know all too well that I’d go for the chocolate option. Our plate also had some butter and icing sugar on it.

There’s only one sit-down place where you can have lunch, and in the element of time, we just went for takeaway from several food kiosks. So aside from the poffertjes above, we had corn and baked potato as well (which I hoped had more cheese on it :P) –

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Would have loved live musical entertainment, but this barrel organ would have to make do –

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We just spent a few hours in the festival, but that’s really long enough to cover the entire area and get a taste of Dutch culture.

All in all, it was a fine, happy spring day. After all, flowers always play their part in cheering up even the gloomiest of days, don’t they?

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Post-note: As of this writing, the festival still has a few more days to go before it ends . For more info, you can go to http://www.tulipfestival.com.au/

It is located at 357-359 Monbulk Road, Silvan, Victoria

Sovereign Hill – Journey Back in Time

23 Jun

If you’re someone who enjoys watching movies with a setting in the late 1800s or early 1900s, or that go back in time, or someone who is enthused about the concept of gold, Sovereign Hill is a definite must-see for you in Victoria. This outdoor museum spanning 25 hectares of land takes you back to the 1850s, the advent of Australia’s goldrush decade.

Taking a break from our usual nature sightseeing and countryside touring, we went during Good Friday to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, which is on the western side of Victoria.

It was about 1 1/2 hours of drive from our place. We arrived at around 11 AM (ok ok, I’m late as usual, hence the late arrival :P).  We realized later into the day that it was a mistake coming late, since we weren’t able to complete our Ballarat experience and had to skip some of the activities in this outdoor park (like the theatre events 😦 !)

The museum is open from 10 AM til 5 PM. The queue is not that bad so you will be able to get in fairly quickly, but I would really advise you to come early so that you can make the most out of the hefty $47 admission fee. (Word of advise: you can make use of various coupons to get a bit of a discount on the entrance cost :))

The rather grim-looking dull-colored scenery that welcomes you once you enter the park is a bit misleading of the rather unique experience you will have during your day in the site.

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We wasted no time and went on to trying out what I believe is the most important to-do item when visiting Sovereign Hill – panning out gold nuggets (or at least, trying to :-P)

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A Sovereign Hill “local” demonstrated how gold-panning is done –

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It is definitely not an easy task to do! But well-worth it if the effort actually pays off, don’t you think? 🙂 Anyway, there’s little chance of being able to find gold nuggets at this time. (Although there were rumors just recently that some lucky bloke was able to find a big chunk of gold here, not sure how true that was, though :-P) The guy above was able to show us one gold ‘crumb’ he was able to get in his pan. But then, these tiny bits of gold aren’t worth anything, really. And you can buy tiny flakes of gold collected in a small vial in the park’s stores.

Most of the attractions in this outdoor museum are free, but some entail an additional fee.

We checked out the free Red Hill mine tour which takes 12 minutes. It was quite a thrilling experience, being completely underground and subjected to pitch black darkness. The mine tour was well laid out, and the audio and lights were very well coordinated. Too bad photography/videography inside the mine is not allowed.

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We then went on to check-out the Chinese Camp, showing the stores and tents of the Chinese dwellers. We learned that the Chinese settlers at that time had special techniques in digging out for gold and were very much successful in doing so that they attracted envy and conflicts with their local counterparts. I’m not surprised, as even back home, it is the Chinese who are very successful with all sorts of trade.

Got to see models of Chinese shops –

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Was able to have a glimpse of what it looks like inside the tents which served as their houses back then –

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There’s a lot to do for the day. You can walk around and look at mining sites, ride coaches, see where these coaches were being built, hang out with ‘locals’ in historical costumes, and many more.

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There are theatre events –

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And you can even go bowling, the old fix-the-bowling-pins-yourself-after-hitting-em way 😉

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Most activities and attractions have several ‘show times’ throughout the day. There’s one attraction, though, that has only one schedule daily – the Redcoat Soldiers – where a group of soldiers do a short parade and demonstration of musket firing.

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There are several places where you can have lunch. If you just want to grab a quick bite, there’s the Hope Bakery and the Cafe. The Cafe offers hot meals as well, as does the New York Bakery (whose name is quite misleading, I’d refer to it as a restaurant, really). New York Bakery offers a more relaxed ambiance and provides table service, unlike the others. We settled on eating here because of its proximity to the Redcoat Soldiers location and because, well, we were really hungry and wanted to get served a hot meal already 😛

Ordered fish and chips and seafood risotto. Both taste good, but we enjoyed the seafood risotto the most 🙂
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There were a few attractions that really captured my interest. Probably because I’ve never cared to think how certain things were made before.

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Above is the Gold Pour – where a supposedly $160,000 gold ingot is poured in a gold-smelting house. Here you’ll be able to witness how a bar of gold is made, old-school style. Lawrence and I were wondering if somehow part of the gold is being nicked without no-one noticing?? Kidding 🙂

Then you have Mr. William Hewett’s candle shop, where they demonstrate how candles are made and colored. There’s a section where you can dip your own candles into the prepared dyes to achieve the color combinations you like. It’s a big hit among kids and families.

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We weren’t able to check out the metal spinning and sweet making demo. We didn’t have time to do the Gold Mine Tour (which takes 40 -60 minutes) and watch any of the theatre events. There were really a lot to do in a day. So our advice would really be to come early and plan out your day properly, prioritizing events you think you’ll like better.

We left Sovereign Hill at a little past 4 PM and was able to drop by the gold museum next door. Here we got to see a few collections of gold nuggets with historical value, and got to learn more about the history of Ballarat and Bendigo during the gold rush decades.

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Our tour of Sovereign Hill was really a pleasant and unconventionally educational one. There are a few attractions that we weren’t able to cover during our one-day visit, and there’s still the ‘Blood of the Southern Cross’ sound-and-light display that we have yet to see, so we think we will be paying this place a visit again 😉

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