“I reckon I’d have made a great candle maker,” I told my kids as we watched a bloke dunk another string of candles into a vat of wax.
I meant it too.
For two days the family and I walked the dusty streets of Sovereign Hill checking out life in the 1850’s, poking our heads into houses and venturing down into the mine. It was great. It was actually one of the best themed parks I’ve ever been too. Although, admittedly, I had low expectations going in, thinking it was all going to be musky smelling old stuff. But it wasn’t. It was normal smelling old stuff and new stuff designed like old stuff. Much, much better.
I loved walking around imagining myself living back when change was slower because electricity wasn’t around so lightbulb moments were much less frequent and, because people dressed totally inappropriately for the weather, chaffing must have been all the craze. Every time I saw someone doing a traditional bit of work, like bashing hot steel, making wagon wheels or running dangerous looking rock bashing machinery I’d think to myself, ‘nup’. For sure I’d bash a finger flat or get badly burned.
A quick trip down into the mine for a show called ‘Trapped’ cured me of my gold fever too.
None of those career choices would have been a positive influence on my life expectancy.
But candle making looked just my speed.
You dangle some string over a bit of wood, attach the bit of wood another bit of wood, dunk strings in melted wax (not bubbling molten metal), pull it out and hang to dry until you redo the dunking and slowly build up a candle, all at a pace which, to my eye, would have allowed for many a civilised spot of tea.
Growing up I was always more interested in what was coming next as opposed to what had come before. I would hazard a guess that’s why I loved sci-fi books and movies so much. So it was interesting to go backwards into Sovereign Hills’ immersive experience and get to see life as it was for the miners and citizens of Ballarat some 160 years ago.
I looked in the houses. Not. One. USB point.
For sure it was a simpler time back then. People strolled past shops tipping their hats and calling everyone sir or madam. I mean it sounds lovely. Except you should have seen the horror expressions on my kids’ faces when they learned people back then also tore pages from mail order catalogues while sitting on drop loos, which tended to be surrounded by scented plants and flowers to disguise the smell. They all pretty much matched mine. I think I speak for the whole family when I say being born any time before duel flush would have totally sucked. I like pressing a button and making stuff happen. Or, in this example, stuff go away.
But of all the places we saw the candle maker’s workshop smelled the best.
I mean the lolly manufacturer and store was perhaps better at first sniff but I quickly took into account dentistry in the 1850’s and opted out of that trade.
But then, just as I satisfied myself I could replicate what the bloke was doing and therefore make a quid if I happened to stumble into a DeLorean anytime soon, the candle maker ruined everything.
“Damn,” I said to the kids as we left. “I really thought I’d found my calling. Looks like I’m back to being a Minister.”
Mainly because I looked really good in the outfit I’d tried on earlier for period photos and I don’t think ministers did anything more dangerous than risk a paper cut.
“What’s wrong with candle making?” Master12 asked me.
“They didn’t use the nice wax he’s using in there,” I said, repeating what the candle maker had told me. “They used rendered animal fat.”
Which apparently stank to high heaven.
“Don’t give up on your dreams, Dad,” Master12 said, throwing his arm around me before patting my stomach affectionately. “I think you’d have made a great candle,” he added.
What do you know, I still managed to get burned.
You can peek in or go into almost every building.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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