THE raspberry drops were selling, the knights were jousting and the 'Best in the Colony' sausage rolls were being devoured once again as Ballarat's major tourist attractions flung open their doors on Saturday.
At Sovereign Hill It was golden smiles all the way around when the guns sounded for the re-opening of the outdoor museum for 1000 pre-purchased ticket holders at half the usual entry price.
The first to walk through the gates was Echuca's Toby Riley with his parents Mark Riley and Jess Rodman.
"We're having a weekend away just before we start building out house," Ms Rodman said.
"It's somewhere different, we haven't been to Ballarat before. I remember coming with school 20 years ago, but it's a long time ago. To be honest the half price wasn't something that we thought about, it was just a chance to get away and do something different. It's something we haven't done before.
Burwood's Yolanda Jere said she and friend Christian Mashingaidze had visited Sovereign Hill last year and were thrilled to be able to return.
"It's the second time we've been here, the first time we didn't quite get a chance to go around the whole place. It's great to come back and look through.
"The fact it was half price was great, but it wasn't just for that we've come back. We are here until Monday, so we are looking to go to the Ballarat Wildlife Park and have a walk around the lake as well, we also want to go for hike up Mount Buninyong."
Sovereign chief executive Sara Quon said to see so many people back enjoying the museum was fantastic for the whole community.
"For our staff, volunteers and visitors it's outstanding. We are capping things at about 20 per cent of our normal visitation and obviously only opening three days a week at this stage. It's a really conservative approach and everyone is really calmly enjoying the safe space," she said.
Ms Quon said he museum was on track to launch its masterplan as part of its 50th anniversary within the next year, which would form a vision for the next 50 years.
"We're about to start our community consultation with the Ballarat community in relation to that masterplan," she said.
"There's $10 million from the federal government which has been funded, that will firstly go towards the development of the masterplan and then there will be just over $9 million for phase one of the masterplan.
"The money is secured and contracted and we'd hope those building works will be able to commence in early 2021 which is great timing for us in terms of economic recovery."
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