Woman swaps modern living for a Sovereign Hill cottage

JENNI Fithall has taken her interest in the 1850s goldfields back to basics.

Mrs Fithall yesterday began three days and two nights of living in a Sovereign Hill two-room cottage to fully experience the era.

The only modern convenience allowed is a video camera to create video diaries for educational purposes.

When The Courier visited yesterday, Mrs Fithall had wallaby stew cooking over the open fire while preparing to make quince jelly and churn some butter.

Her nights will be spent doing needlework, knitting or reading before retiring to the rather hard beds of the time.

“I have an interest in the olden times,” Mrs Fithall said.

“I’ve done a lot of family history research and I have an affinity with that period. I love every part of that era.”

Mrs Fithall and her husband Chris are Torquay-based, but have been involved with Friends of Sovereign Hill for nearly two years.

“I enjoy cooking and I like interacting with the visitors, especially the children. You get great responses from them.”

Mr Fithall will return to Torquay every night but will eat his meals with his wife first.

“We’ll have wallaby stew tonight with some mashed potatoes and I’ll reheat it tomorrow with either some suet dumplings or make it into a pie.”

However, she will have some company with Fergus the Sovereign Hill kitten sleeping in a basket under her bed.

“I’ll be living the life of a woman in the 1850s, washing with a board and a dolly peg, heating up the iron over the fire.”

Sovereign Hill’s volunteer program manager Kelly Steegstra said school children would also visit Mrs Fithall to ask about her experience, with an online blog also available.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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