The Blood on the Southern Cross is a true spectacular that must be seen by all Australians, not only for the incredible lighting and effects that have gone into recreating this piece of our history, but also for the history itself. The show tells the story of the Eureka Rebellion, a dramatic battle between gold miners and Government forces at Ballarat on 3 December 1854.
Set under the night skies at Sovereign Hill, there are no actors on this stage – something that initially put us off. We discussed whether it was worth the cost given there were no real actors, but within 10 minutes all those thoughts disappeared as we became immersed in the visual spectacular. Voices and sounds came from all around, as strategically placed speakers made us feel like we were truly in the middle of the gold mining fields, going through the same struggles as these early miners. Following the first scene in the same stream as would-be gold finders during the day, a transporter arrives to take us into the hills behind the Sovereign Hill park to where the real drama is played out before our eyes, with a re-created Free Trade Hotel on the Eureka Diggings. The story continues and describes the outrage at unfair taxes on the miners, conspiracies with members of law enforcement, and ultimately the dramatic burning of the Eureka Hotel – a sight so spectacular it’s hard to believe the building is actually still standing at the end.
The night ends with a solemn speech by newly-elected MP Peter Lalor, one of the rebelling miners who was injured in the attack, and then stood for Ballarat in the 1856 elections – he was elected unopposed.
We left the night in a sombre mood, but grateful and overwhelmed to have witnessed such a real depiction of what life was like back then, and learn more about such a historic moment for Australia. If there is one thing you must see while passing through Ballarat, this must be it. It was an evening worth every cent, and could easily be experienced again and again.