The crowded and unsanitary goldfields were far from the ideal place for children to grow up, but although conditions were difficult and harsh, life would have still been a great adventure.
Children worked as hard as their parents to ensure the smooth running of the home. They gathered firewood, fetched water from the creek, looked after the tent or hut, cared for the horses and even fossicked through left-over dirt and gravel looking for gold. Children were kept very busy, so any opportunity to play and have fun would have been very exciting. With people from all over the world on the goldfields, there were many strange and wonderful sights for children to see.
CHILDREN ON THE GOLDFIELDS
A treasure hunt! That’s what life must have seemed like to children on the goldfields. Searching amongst the washdirt abandoned by other gold-seekers, hoping to find a few little nuggets that had been carelessly missed, children could contribute to their family’s livelihood, and probably added to their own little stash of the riches.
Life was busy. If you weren’t fossicking for gold, there were other jobs to be done and education to be considered. Tent schools popped up here and there, suggesting that education was important. However, as parents moved to wherever whispers of ‘more gold’ could be heard, teachers’ aspirations were often thwarted. The life of a gold-seeker was a far cry from the one these children would have led if their parents had managed to resist the allure of gold. Those who came from England, especially the poor, could have easily found themselves overworked and underpaid in a factory, where their health and safety was of little or no concern. Many children were lucky if they made it to their fifth birthday.
At Sovereign Hill
CONFECTIONERY FACTORY & SHOP
Curious about the secrets of sweet making? Visit Brown’s Confectionery Factory and watch sweets being made the traditional way, with hard work and an element of danger! Just like kids today, the allure of a sweet treat would have been strong, but sweets were an expensive indulgence, so they would have been very lucky to get a sweet taste! Whether it’s raspberry drops, humbugs, acid drops, fairy drops, musk drops or rainbow shells, you can taste or buy them all at Mr Spencer’s Confectionery Shop. There’s so many different types of sweets to choose from, you’ll either need to choose, or try them all!
At Sovereign Hill
TRADES, CRAFTS & STORES
Advances in technology have seen certain skills, knowledge and old fashioned manufacturing processes become obsolete. Rediscover the magic of these lost arts at Sovereign Hill. See a traditional blacksmith at work over a hot forge. Shaping and bending wrought iron to fashion mining tools, horse shoes, domestic goods and building materials, there’s almost nothing a blacksmith can’t make or mend. Visit the Wheelwright’s Plant and Coach Manufactory to discover how the horse-drawn vehicles you see around Sovereign Hill are made and maintained. There are many more trades and crafts to be found at Sovereign Hill, so look carefully.