Does Sydney have a Sovereign Hill?

Melbourne has a place that is called Sovereign Hill. For those who do not know what it is, it's described on Wikipedia as an "open-air museum". Basically it has old style buildings, horses and carts and there are activities for kids. It's a great place to go for families.

What is Sydney's equivalent?

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Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill


  • +8

    We had Old Sydney Town just north of Sydney.

    Back then we had lots of places - Wonderland, Paradise Gardens, O'Neills, etc. These days we have almost nothing.

    • "Had"? So it's not there anymore at all?

      Is there anything that is remotely similar? Just like a town with old buildings and a gold rush theme? I don't care if it's a 5 hour drive away.

      • +1

        I think there is something like that out Hill End way.

        • -1

          I was being sarcastic about the drive.. but yes that does look like an equivalent, except a bit more run down. 4 hours away though…. in Melbourne it took me 90 mins max.

          Ah well I guess it's an option, thanks for the heads up.

      • +2

        Yeah it closed early '00s :(

        If you don't mind going out Newcastle way there's Fort Scratchley, which is a fort from the late 1800s that was used as defense during the pacific theater conflict.

        • +1

          Been there already. We have Fort Nepean in Melbourne.

    • +3

      Yes, very sad :( Old Sydney Town was a great place, so was Wonderland. Sydney is such a boring city these days, just endless traffic and apartment buildings.

      • I think I went to Wonderland as a kid… I think I had a showbag and it had Fred Flintstone on it.

      • +2

        By the time I was old enough to visit on school excursions in the late 90s, it was getting kinda run-down. The daily red coat parade was like four dudes. Besides schoolkids, it was pretty deserted. Best part about it was the old timey sweet shop.

    • +2

      Back then we had lots of places - Wonderland, Paradise Gardens, O'Neills, etc. These days we have almost nothing.

      You forgot Sega World

      • +1

        Amazing place as well. I remember being terrified of the guillotine machine they had near the entrance.

      • +2

        its cba world now!

  • +4

    No. This is the reason why Melbourne is better than Sydney.

    • +6

      And yet I can think of so many reasons to the contrary … several thousand just this last month.

      • +1

        Are you talking about hot women you've walked past?

        • +2

          Not walked past, champion!

    • +1

      love ur sargasm

      • Medically is called orgasm

        • WOOT
          i meant sarcasm…

    • +12

      Sovereign Hill is in Ballarat not in Melbourne.

  • +2

    Not really OP. There's a couple medieval fairs that rotate the various parklands around the year, but in terms of interactive museum type settings Powerhouse is pretty good, even if the exhibits are getting on a bit in age…

    • -1

      What's Powerhouse? Thanks for the heads up on the medieval fairs.

      • +1

        St Ives medieval fair is pretty big.

        • Neat, will take a look.

      • +1

        Look for the Powerhouse Museum online. It opened back up recently. You'll have to travel to Ultimo but public transport is quick

        • Thanks, it does look interesting, wondering how long I could spend there. From what I can see there's a couple of trains, a spaceship and a couple of other things to look at.

          • @Ghost47: @Ghost47: Couple hrs for an adult. 30min with a child.

      • Powerhouse Museum is very good. Also walking distance to the Australian National Maritime Museum which is excellent (you need hours). The Australian Museum (Australia's oldest) on College Street near Hyde Park is not too far from Hyde Park Barracks. MCA near Circular Quay (if your family is into modern art, that is) and the museum in the old Customs House. Also the SCG museum near (funnily enough) the SCG.

        Not sure about hours or 'open status' these days, but check or timeout for lists of things to see and do…

    • +1

      isn't powerhouse closes cos of move to matta

      • They backflipped on their decision at the end of June; there's going to be two museums instead

        Edit: Looks like someone hates me and negged my comment (and I think I know who; you know who you are) for merely stating the truth

        • +1

          Have they reopened all the bits they closed a few weeks ago?

          • @WreckTangle: No idea. I haven't been in years even though I work a few minutes' walk away from it

  • +3

    There's the Australiana Pioneer Village in the Hawkesbury, west of Sydney. Not sure whether it's still open due to Covid though…

    • Hmm looks nice from photos, how big is it? Can you spend a whole day there? Thanks!

      • +1

        I haven't been there for many years, but I don't remember it being massive. Nothing as big as Sovereign Hill. But you could spend some time there, and then check out the butterfly farm nearby. Or drive around and pick out your favourite A Country Practice filming locations. ;)

        • +1

          Thank you my dear bows That butterfly farm sounds nice.

    • Yes, it is still normally open despite Covid.

      Check their website or facebook for updates.

      Next to the butterfly farm is a go-kart track, which is where I would prefer to go!

  • +1

    Visit Morpeth.

    • I thought you were referring me to a goth club but that does look nice. Will go for a wander in ye olde Morpeth towne.

  • +8

    Ballarat has Sovereign Hill, not Melbourne. It's like saying Newcastle is part of Sydney.

      • +10

        No, Geography.

        • -4

          I will make sure the next threads I make say "Does NSW….." specifically then.. despite NSW being much larger than Victoria so if I want to go somewhere in the country I might have to drive 2-3x as long/far.

        • +1

          Melbourne is expanding rapidly.. cranbourne used to be rural ;)

    • +1

      Newcastle is definitely a world of its own..with Morpeth being the gateway to the black hole beyond..

      *It's past 8pm ..nobody in Newcastle will see this ;)

      • black hole

        What? Dungog? You'll have to fight Douggie Walters now…

  • +1

    If you wanted to extend the weekend… Some interesting places between Newcastle and Port Macquarie also..

  • +1

    With Old Sydney Town long gone, NSW doesn’t have anything like Sovereign Hill or even Swan Hill in Victoria, which also has a great Pioneer Settlement. Fairfield City Museum has some old buildings which are interesting if you’re into history. Kangaroo Valley also has a Pioneer Museum which is an okay way to spend a few hours in.
    Unfortunately the old Mogo Gold Rush Colony on the South Coast was destroyed in the Summer bushfires, that was an awesome place to step back into the past.

    • Hmm thanks for the information. Was really looking for a Sovereign Hill equivalent but some of the other suggestions seem ok.

      Sad that was destroyed :'(

  • +1

    Sounds like The Rocks, but the Rocks is much more modern with that vintage look.

    • My partner wants to take me there. I am looking forward to it but it doesn't appear to have the family-friendly "theme park" vibe I am going for unlike Sovereign Hill.

      HAHA nice edit by the way.

      • HAHA nice edit by the way.

        MElbourne has better food in the city, I admit it.

        family-friendly "theme park"

        The whole of circular quay and The Rocks is family friendly. If you want a theme park, go to luna park lol

        • The whole of circular quay and The Rocks is family friendly. If you want a theme park, go to luna park lol

          Haha, well by "theme-park vibe" I meant an enclosed area where people dress up in old-time dresses giving out 1850s candy and there are horse and carts and kids (as well as me) can pan for gold.

          • @Ghost47: The Easter Show in Olympic Park is like that.

            No chance of that happening this year or next year too imo.

  • +1

    There's Timbertown, but it's 4-5 hours drive from Sydney.

    • That's cool! But so far to drive :-O Seems they have panning for gold though, neat!

  • Echuca in Victoria has an old town bit too since we’re on the topic. Clearly not near SYD tho

  • +1

    (historic) Berrima !

    • +1

      +1!! The courthouse does tours (daytime and ghost ones at night). And the pub does some good food!

  • +1

    There's also Q Station in Sydney, for a bit of history, although it's nothing like the theme park vibe you're looking for! They do daytime tours, and spooky ones at night. You can even stay there in their nice hotel rooms. It's a great place.

    • Oooh that sounds interesting. So it’s in Sydney? That would save any kerfuffle with trying to get somewhere 4-5 hours away.

      • +1

        It is at North Head, right near Manly. Great place to visit and also a nice walk and views around there too.

        • Thanks, will put it on the list.

  • Not Early Australian focussed, but the Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour is a good visit, and they have international exhibitions from time to time. Had a hoot with the children at the Horrible Histories Pirate exhibition there many years ago.

  • Sega World in darling harbour is ok

  • +1

    Try Magic Kingdom at Lansvale NSW. It's rundown now, but just thought I'd mention it since your username is Ghost… I remember going there riding on miniature feet-driven paddle-boat across the lake. It's near the Chipping Norton area. There's still a huge slippery slide there but some people say it's 'haunted'. Spooky!

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