Eureka Rebellion

Eureka Flag

Formation & Rebellion - Eureka Stockade Vic Australia

The Gold Diggers, in the Ballarat region of Victoria Australia, hated the gold mining licensing system.

When Governor Hotham came to power in June 1854 he instituted twice weekly license checks to be made by the Gold Commission Police Force.

Tension amongst the diggers was very high. Additionally, official corruption  lead to James Bentley  a local publican, and his cohorts, being let off after beating a drunken Scottish digger to death.

Diggers rallied together to bring the men to justice, and set Bentley's Hotel on fire.  3 diggers were arrested and charged with this arson, and 3 weeks later 10,000 diggers came together with several demands:

  • release of the 3 diggers
  • abolition of the mining license
  • the right to vote for all males

The Ballarat Reform League was formed as a final outcome of that meeting.  Many of the gold miners and their leaders of the League had been involved with the Chartist movement in England.

On 29th November 1854 an even larger meeting was held, with the famous Southern Cross flag on display.  Miners decided to burn their gold mining licenses the following day in a mass burning on Bakery Hill.

They then marched to the Eureka diggings which followed the deep "Eureka Lead" of gold being mined by the diggers. There the men constructed a makeshift wooden barricade, enclosing about an acre of the goldfields. This was the formation of the "Eureka Stockade".

About 500 diggers took an oath on the Southern Cross flag inside the stockade, to fight against the police and the military. The "Southern Cross" was flown with the "Union Jack" hoisted beneath it.

The final clash at the Eureka Stockade, between the miners and police / military occurred, early in the morning on Sunday December 3rd 1854. (The Mogo Maze at the Gold Rush Colony on the South Coast of NSW was officially opened on December 3rd 2012 and has a Eureka Stockade theme.)

125 miners were taken prisoner. Of the 28 men killed in the Eureka Rebellion, 22 were diggers, and only one was Australian born. He and another digger captured at the stockade were both from NSW, the colony that had been the scene of the first armed uprising (by Irish Convicts) at Vinegar Hill in 1804.

The password at the Eureka Stockade on the night of 2nd December 1854 was "Vinegar Hill".