The Eureka Rebellion is considered as the milestone in the history of growth and inculcation of the democracy of Australia. It is also referred to as the battle of “Eureka Stockade“. It is a rebellion is a dissent of the gold miners of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. The miners stood up against the United Kingdom’s colonial authorities. The revolt took place on December 3, in the year 1854 between the miners and the colonial forces of Australia at Eureka Lead.
As many as 27 rebels lost their lives as a result of this rebellion. The whole revolt took place because the diggers (goldfield workers) were against the miners licences issued by the government. The government used the licences to demand heavy taxes from the diggers. The diggers were asked to pay the licence fees irrespective of whether they claimed any amount of gold or not. The diggers who could not claim any gold or less gold found it a task to pay their heavy licence fees to the government and hence, they stood up against this law.
In the year 1854, the year in which the rebellion took place, there were around 25,000 goldminers on the Ballarat goldfields. The goldminers were of different nationalities. A few Aboriginal people were also there. By the year 1858, the number of Victorian goldfield reached the peak. There were about 150,000 miners at that time out of which half were British immigrants and about 40,000 of were Chinese. There were also miners from other nationalities like from hungary, Poland, Germany, Italy, France and America.
The Gold Commission’s police force enforced the law and order on the goldfields. A garrison of soldiers reinforced the law later again. In June 1854, Governor Hotham ordered to check licence twice a week. The opposition took pace. Another issue of concern for the goldminers was the official corruption.
The diggers did several meetings and demand justice for a Scottish Digger who was beaten to death by a group of men. The diggers united and revolted against the government. In a meeting on 29th of November, the diggers burnt the mining licence publicly. The South Cross Flag, known as Eureka Flag was displayed during this meet.
The Eureka Stockade
Mass burning of the mining licenses happened the very next day, i.e., on 30th of November at Bakery Hill. The gold miners marched to the Eureka diggings and constructed a stockade. The stockade was made of wooden barricade that enclosed around an acre of the goldfields. Around 500 diggers went inside the stockade and took an oath on the Eureka Flag and defend the stockade for the next two days. This followed an attack on the stockade on 3rd of December. Declaration of martial law took place on 6th of December and on the appointment of a Commission in the goldfields took place the very next day.
After trial in February 1855, the demands of the miners were met. In March 1855, a report was handed to the government by the Gold Fields Commission.
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Also See : Ralph Jones Survival Diaries Eureka Radio