During the Christmas school holiday period this year Sovereign Hill has focussed on some of the strange but true stories of the Ballarat gold rush period. These have included stories about a deep sea diver, zebra, tiger and diggers dressed as women. As entertaining as these weird and wonderful stories have been, we must remember that as a museum it is our responsibility to be as accurate in our portrayal of goldfields’ history as possible.
For that reason all of these activities had to have some basis in fact, and this makes the stories even better. In this Blog we will explore two of these activities and the amazing true stories that they are based on.
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Ballarat’s Scottish Heritage
This blog post has been summarised from notes by Sovereign Hill’s senior historian, Dr Jan Croggon on the Scottish in Ballarat. We would like to thank Jan for her contribution and hope she has more to share with us in the future.
Statue of Robert Burns, Scottish poet. Sturt St Ballarat. Gold Museum Collection
Nineteenth century Scotland was at the heart of the massive Industrial Revolution which transformed Britain, and which largely created the population pool which travelled to the Antipodes in search of gold and a new life.
EMIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA
The characteristics of the Scots who emigrated to Ballarat can be understood more clearly if regarded in the light of the world from which they came. Poverty, famine and epidemics in Scotland in the 1820s and 1830s caused the first significant Scottish emigration to Australia. Victoria was the most popular colony in which they settled. Scottish squatters and rural workers established farms, and urban settlers worked as skilled artisans and professionals.
In the Victorian census of 1854, Scots were the third largest group after the English and Irish, with 36,044 people. Within three years a further 17,000 had arrived, many hoping to make their fortunes on the goldfields. Immigration assistance schemes also swelled the number of Scottish arrivals. By 1861 the Scotland-born population of Victoria reached 60,701 – the highest level it would ever reach.
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Bowling Alleys on the Goldfields
Once again a question from a student has inspired an idea for this blog. A student from Wesley College, Clunes campus wanted to know more about bowling saloons on the goldfields, similar to Sovereign Hill’s Empire Bowling Saloon.
Re-setting the pins at Sovereign Hill’s Empire Bowling Saloon
This turned out to be quite a challenge, as there isn’t much information from the time about this sort of sporting or gaming entertainment. However, we have managed to find some information about them. Continue reading →