The Eureka Stockade

Swearing Allegiance to the Southern Cross 1854 by Charles Doudiet, on display at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.


The Eureka Stockade can be quite a sensitive topic to some in light of its political significance and even acts as bit of a ‘Rorschach test’ to many, engendering quite varied reactions. Some people like to stress its ideological significance, citing the possible role of Chartism, Republicanism, etc, and have adopted, or co-opted, depending upon one’s perspective, its primary symbol of the Eureka banner as their own symbol. Others highlight its more financial aspects, specifically the financial stresses arising from the increasing cost of mining licences, the price of which increased dramatically during the early 1850s, as well as the associated heavy-handing policing that occurred around the collection of licence fees. The increasingly expensive licences were introduced by the Victorian Colonial administration as a reaction to the major disruption being caused to the economy by the gold rush as more and more workers fled their jobs for the gold fields. This exodus presented the significant threat of core sections of the economy, and thus of the Colony as a whole, being unable to function. It was also causing significant inflationary pressures.

The website URLs included below detail and assess some of these important aspects and perspectives around the Eureka Stockade. They are categorised by some of the main actors, issues and perspectives that are typically identified with the Eureka Stockade.


Eureka Stockade and….

Charter of Bakery Hill/’Prerogative of the People’ 

This is a paper presented by John Molony as a lecture in the Senate Occasional Lecture Series at Parliament House on 23 April 2004.

In the speaker’s own words: “In order to establish an argument consonant with the title of my lecture I trace the historical background, which sheds light on the nature of the diggers’ grievances. The Charter of Bakery Hill and its origins in political thought are then examined. Finally, I make some observations on the prerogative of the people.”




These all discuss or highlight the role of Chartism as a influence upon those involved in the Eureka Stockade.


 Comparisons to the Boston Tea Party (and Battle over its Use a Symbol)

This is an excellent newspaper article of 3 December, 2010 in The Age written by Jake Niall which primarily discusses comparisons between the Eureka Stockade and the Boston Tea Party in the U.S. The article also looks at how the Eureka Stockade, as an ideological, or otherwise, symbol, has been incorporated by different groups and perspectives for their own purposes, as well as the different interpretations that have been applied to it.

Contested Interpretations and Meaning of Legacy

This is an electronic article by Anne Beggs Sunter in the journal, ‘Labour History’. This paper, in the author’s own words, “focuses on its public interpretation in Ballarat, as a case study of the politics of memory. Its central question is how to interpret a contested political event so that people with ownership of conflicting versions of the story can all be accommodated? The paper analyses the development of the Eureka Stockade Centre in Ballarat, and compares this public interpretation to other attempts to present the story, notably at Sovereign Hill. It concludes that only by embracing the contests can the interpretation be successful.”


Cost of Licences and Policing.

This contains a brief discussion of the anger over licences and the policing associated with licence enforcement.


Democratic Struggle

This article, “The Eureka Rebellion and the Continuing Struggle for Democracy”, by Hamish McPherson, offers more of a Marxist perspective on Eureka, highlighting the importance of class conflict (‘Bunyip aristocracy’ versus ‘free labour’) and the push for universal suffrage.


Doubt over its Political Significance

This one article, in two parts, provides an interesting account of why the Eureka Stockade may not be as an important political event as it is often attributed to be.


Experience of the Soldiers Brought in to Suppress it

Offers details about the troopers used to suppress the miners, as well as on their casualities and fatalities.


General Primary Documents

This is a great website which provides a solid account of the Eureka Stockade, as well as containing relevant original documentation.


Lieutenant Governor Hotham’s Reports:

-Despatch No. 47 Enclosing the Report of the Commission Appointed to Enquire into the Management of the Gold Fields of Victoria

-On the Burning of the Eureka Hotel on the Ballarat Gold Field

-On a Serious Riot and Collision at the Ballarat Gold Field

-Of his Visit to the Gold Fields of Victoria


Main Individuals Involved

-John Basson Humffray

-Peter Lalor

-Carboni Rafaello

-James Scobie

Primarily details his murder and the subsequent criminal trial around it.

Contains Court documents around the trial of his accused murderers.


Timeline of Major Events





Lesson Plans on Eureka Massacre

This is an excellent website that includes nine activities relating to the Eureka Stockade that could be very useful for presenting the underlying issues to school students.




Also check-out the Heretic Press website for a good range of information on other subjects relating to the Eureka Stockade.



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