Living history museums are outdoor museums which portray a particular lifestyle during a bygone era. Some are quite elaborate with costumed people typical of that era going about their daily business, allowing visitors to gain an understanding of their lives and the times.
Victoria has a number of living history museums, some of which are based around the state's historic goldmining history.
Located at the terminus of the vintage "Talking Tram", Central Deborah Gold Mine allows visitors to explore a real gold mine on an underground tour, 61 metres below the surface. Not for the faint-hearted, this journey through tunnels and tombs is an adventurous day trip for those who are keen to don a miner's lamp and hard hat to sample the sights.
Visitors can step back in time at Coal Creek with more than 60 exhibits and buildings showcasing the coal mining history of the area from the 1870s to the 1920s. Ride the bush tramway, dine in the cafe or simply enjoy the 12 hectares of natural surrounds with a picnic in one of the many scenic spots around the park. Entry to the park is free.
Discover what life was like in the 1870s in a recreated maritime village overlooking Lady Bay. There is a laser show for visitors and well-known theatre show "Shipwrecked" which brings to life the historical story of Loch Ard - a maritime disaster which occurred in 1878.
This was one of the most successful mines in Victoria's history, yielding almost 14 tonnes of gold since diggings first started in 1865. Take a guided tour deep under the mountain and down this mine which has been virtually untouched since it closed in 1911. At the mine site is a small museum and refreshments are available from the ticket office.
Located around 90 kilometres west of Mildura at Meringur, visitors can see a number of buildings and artefacts that date back to the 1920s when the area was a thriving farming district. There are also hundreds of memorial trees which commemorate individual pioneering families.www.millewapioneerpark.org.au
Old Gippstown is a complete historical township filled with authentic buildings and decor. It is renowned for its coach house which contains one of Victoria's best collections of horse-drawn vehicles. The beautiful garden settings are perfect for picnics and barbecues. Visitors can see a large variety of agricultural and industrial machinery and the blacksmiths forge, in which many were manufactured.
Experience the history of what was once Australia's busiest inland port at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre. Part of the original wharf, which was built in 1865, has been preserved and authentic paddlesteamer cruises are available from there. There is an interpretive centre which illustrates the story of Australia's inland river system, a working sawmill exhibit, steam display, a cargo shed kids space and a rail siding with box vans. Guided tours and after dark tours are also available.
History comes to life in this recreated gold township of the 1850s. There are regular demonstrations, street theatre performances, gold panning, mine tours and shopping experiences of the era. At night, experience AURA which sees Sovereign Hill transformed into a moving sound and light show that tells the story of history and gold. During winter, the Winter Wonderlights display is a stunning night show with dazzling lights, faux snow and festive fun.
The State Coal Mine offers a journey back in time to discover what life working in a coal mine was like in the 1900s. Visitors can tour underground through the dark network of tunnels to get hands-on at the coal face and learn how Victoria's hard working men extracted the black gold. Above ground, there are historic buildings, interpretive displays, walking trails and picnic areas.