Happy Canada Day!! I know, its a bit late. Oh well :)
Yesterday Rob and I decided to do something adventurous, something I couldn't do while I had a broken foot. Things are getting better and better and I hardly have any pain with it, apart from a few movements. We headed west and landed in Ballarat, the largest gold mining town of the world (or something close to, but it sounds good). The place is Sovereign hill, and it is kept as it would have been in the 1850's when the first miners arrived. We spent the whole day there, and probably could have spent longer, but it closed down! They have everything from the way they would have lived, either in tents or small houses, old shops, a working Post Office, a sweets shop, a theater with shows through-out the day, and horse drawn carriages that take you around the small town. All the workers are dressed as they would have been in the 1850's and they keep in character as they roam the streets - all very entertaining. We even have the chance to pan for gold through the water that is pumped up from the mines. We searched, and only found a couple specks, nothing that was even worth while trying to fish out, and I did try :) However, we did find out that they do sprinkle $800 worth of gold in the creek on a weekly basis.
We saw approximately $145,000 worth of gold melted down and poured into a bar, saw how the rocks get crushed down to dust in the process of getting the gold out of the quartz. We went on 2 tours of the mines. The first one, we got the luxury of taking a 60 foot tram down, in complete darkness - just as the miners would have, only they traveled in a bucket and going a hell of a lot faster, and saw what happened to miners that got trapped from water that rushed into the mine as they hit an abandoned mine. We saw a presentation, in the mine, told as a story from miners that were trapped as well as their family's that were waiting for their loved ones to return. We watched the show on a flat body of water that was reflected by light from the town glued to the roof. There were faces on the wall across from us that light up as the people spoke. Kinda hard to explain, but a very interesting and 'cool' way to tell a story. That day, of the 47 miners that went into the mines, only 25 survived. Two brothers tied themselves together so they would ever be separated. Very sad.
The other tour we went on was general information about the mines, how they worked, and what the workers went through. The deepest of the mine is over 1000 feet below the surface, and the miners were put in a bucket, and dropped down. If anything failed, you were a dead man. And if the lifts were broken, they used the ladders to ascend and descend. For a fit miner, this was about 2 hours, and not included in the pay. There are some areas that still have gold in the quartz, however it was left as it was important in preventing the ground from caving in.
Victoria itself is full of gold, there are mines scattered all over the state. The largest nugget found was something like 78Kg, found somewhere in Victoria. It was found by some dude, that ran over it with his vehicle. It took 4 men to lift it!
I was very impressed with the tourist attraction, and despite ALL the kids (it is school holidays here), I managed to keep my cool (even after some brat stepped on my foot) and could have spent more time there. We didn't get to the portrait studio in time and couldn't get our photo done 'old school;. Next time I guess!
15 more sleeps till I leave :)
On the streets, it was a bit cold that day
Police Officer getting ready to fire the Musket
Lookin' for that gold!
The gold pour :))