The Woman of the Hill part 3.
Our intrepid volunteer, Jenni Fithall, has completed her three days and two nights living in one of the cottages at Sovereign Hill Outdoor Museum. During her stay approximately 3800 visitors, including about 1500 school children came to Sovereign Hill. Many of these visitors and children visited Jenni in her cottage, so apart from living as a woman of the 1850s, Jenni also had to contend with a multitude of questions, photo opportunities and a constant stream of people walking through her little two room cottage.
But that wasn’t all Jenni had to put up with. There were random visits from our education team, and the volunteer managers wanting to interview her -sometimes before visiting hours- about her experiences. She was also constantly in front of a camera, either ours, the local media or tourists. At night Jenni compiled a video diary for us, even though she was only able to sleep about 5 hours a night, thanks to our noisy roosters – although Jenni did joke about a possible solution, in truth no animals were harmed in the time she was here.
Noise wasn’t the only problem for Jenni. She says she had a hell of a time with flies, at one stage the entire ceiling was covered with them. We gave her fly strips so that she could manage, but as soon as they went up they were full, or “standing room only” to quote Jenni. William Howitt also commented on the flies of the goldfields.
Definitely the biggest difference between the 1850s and the present day mentioned by Jenni would be electricity. She says that even after two days using candles, if she walked into the bedroom, where it was darker, she would instinctively reach for the light switch. Jenni didn’t mind the lack of television, lets face it, a woman of the 1850s didn’t have the leisure time required to watch TV But lighting, washing machines and refrigerators have made a huge difference to our lifestyle compared to colonial women.
We congratulate Jenni on completing her mission. We have gained a great deal of knowledge from her personal experiences, and there are already plans afoot, and volunteers aplenty, to try this experiment again. After winter, and after we fix the beds up a little more (sorry Jen).
During her stay, Jenni had a guest book for visitors to comment on her experience. There were so many positive comments, that we cannot fit them into this Blog, but here is a sample:
“What a wonderful experiment! May it continue for many years. I’d love to be a part of it. Well done to Jenni and Sovereign Hill” -Nick Nicholls, Kangaroo Ground
“Good luck cooking with all the flies” – Eddy & Luke
“The flies are beautiful”- Alison
“Watched the cloth being floured to cover the treacle steam pudding and enjoyed a most enlightening chat about the life & times of the folks of that time. I couldn’t handle sleeping on that mattress though! Soon we will return to the comforts of our bed in Auckland, best wishes” – Michael Hall
“Was a very nice experience. Courageous to stay nights over.” – Ben and Thea from Holland
“Loved your little home, nice smells, too many flies”- Kylie, England
Thank you to all who left comments in the guest book, if you see your comment or would like to make another, there is an opportunity here.
If you would like to see what Jenni went through, we have made several videos about her time at Sovereign Hill, the videos and the links are detailed below.
There was so much information about this experiment, that we created a new page on our website. All the videos and links to Blogposts are here.
If you would like your students to experience a little of Jenni’s experience, try our a woman’s work is never done education session.