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Sovereign Hill, © Kevin Poh, Flickr
Sovereign Hill, © Kevin Poh, Flickr
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Melbourne's Must-Visit Open-Air And Live Museums

Picture of Isabell Greigeritsch
Updated: 9 February 2017
Australia has a rich cultural history, which is exhibited throughout numerous live and open-air museums. These venues are perfect for realistic portrayals of Australia‘s past, with a variety of shows and live reenactments on offer. Here are our top picks.
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Sovereign Hill

Located just outside of Melbourne, Sovereign Hill is home to the historic Gold Rush that occurred in the 1850s. Sovereign Hill offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy and a number of shops to treat yourself. Venture underground on a guided tour or see steam-driven machinery in action. Chat with candlemakers, confectioners and wheelwrights as they ply their trades. You can also experience shopping in true 1850s-style, so step back in time and head to Sovereign Hill.

Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat VIC, Australia +03 5337 1199

Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill

In 1962 the Swan Hill community, including senior members of the state government, decided to plan and explore the possibility of purchasing the Pioneer Settlement to use as an art gallery and open-air, living history museum. They wanted to recreate a lost, living past, so in 1966, the Pioneer Settlement was ready to be opened to the public, and visitors came in ever-increasing numbers. By the 1970s, the Pioneer Settlement was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Victoria, if not Australia. The tourist town has tours, boat rides, winery and food experiences, an art gallery and historical sites.

Pioneer Settlement, Monash Drive, Swan Hill, VIC, Australia +03 5036 2410

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Old Gippstown, Gippsland Heritage Park

Old Gippstown, Gippsland Heritage Park is also one of the many places to step back in time and experience the 1850s. Located in Moe, Victoria, this venue holds a variety of authentic buildings that were built in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the most popular buildings include the ‘Loren’ Iron House, ‘Bushy Park’ Homestead, Meeniyan National Bank and the Narracan Mechanic’s Institute Hall. The town is especially renowned for the coach house, which holds one of the best collections of horse-drawn, steam-driven, and manually operated vehicles. For families, a beautiful garden is set up with barbecues that is perfect for picnics.

Old Gippstown, Gippsland’s Heritage Park, 211 Lloyd Street, Moe, VIC, Australia +03 5127 3082

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Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is a maritime museum and outdoor village with Australia’s richest shipwreck collection. It is all contained in an 1870s village located on a state heritage site overlooking Lady Bay. The village provides a glimpse of the maritime lifestyle and trades of the 1870s, at the peak of Australia’s maritime heritage. Here you can witness indoor galleries and the outdoor maritime heritage precinct. In the village, you can begin your journey through a multi-screen theatre that takes you on a voyage through the late 1800s. This award-winning maritime village is perfect for the history lovers and for those who want to have an immersive historical experience.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, Merri Street, Warrnambool, VIC, Australia +03 5559 4600

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Millewa Pioneer Park was created to present the efforts and recognise the hardships early settlers went through to sustain and create a livelihood. The park was built to create a hands-on experience for tourists so they could understand the early Millewa district and lifestyle. In the park, there are a variety of old buildings and historical sites, including the school house, an old police lockup, the railway building, two log cottages and the first government building. There are also a variety of plants and trees to explore, which were planted when the settlers first came.

Millewa Pioneer Park, Meringur, VIC, Australia +03 5028 1202