Ballarat to celebrate 157th Anniversary of Eureka
A range of events will take place around the city over the coming week to celebrate the 157th Anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion.
The ill-fated uprising by a group of miners, defending their rights against a harsh regime on the goldfields of the 1850s is widely regarded as a turning point for Australian democracy.
The Australian Constitution is built on many of the principles outlined in the Ballarat Reform League charter, as over 10,000 diggers spelt out their political demands in a mass meeting at Bakery Hill on 29 November 1854 before the uprising.
From the bloody battlefield emerged the qualities frequently associated with our national identity; among them mateship, multiculturalism and the notion of the right to a fair go for all.
The 1850s were a tumultuous period in Australian history and the lure of gold had drawn people from around the world, many from countries which had undergone revolutions triggered by a sense of injustice.
They came to Victoria, primarily Ballarat, to find themselves under another harsh and corrupt administration, forced to pay a crippling gold tax without any representation in the colonial administration which administered it.
Many were well-educated and their calls for an end to the tyranny attracted tens of thousands of disgruntled miners to mass meetings, a show of people power unimaginable today.
Efforts to negotiate change proved futile, with the diggers deciding they had no choice but to take up arms. They raised their flag, the Southern Cross, swore an oath and marched to Eureka, where they built their stockade.
The battle, when it came, was short-lived. A surprise dawn attack on December 3 lasted just 15 minutes as troopers quickly overran the stockade. More than 30 miners were dead, along with six troopers.
Despite the passage of time, the legacy of that defining moment in history echoes just as strongly today.
Ballarat proudly lays claim to the honour of being the birthplace of the Australian spirit and the influence of Eureka can be seen all around this City.
Eureka 157th Anniversary Events
Tuesday 29 November
Raising of the Eureka Flag. 2.00pm. Bakery Hill roundabout.
Friday 2 December
Eureka 157 Schools Event. 9.00am-12:30pm. Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Saturday 3 December
‘Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion’ event. 4.00am – 10.00pm. Various venues.
Eureka Graves Ceremony. 12 noon. Ballarat Old Cemetery.
Eureka Mass. 6.00pm. St Alpius Church.
Eureka 157 Pacing Cup. 6.30pm. Bray Raceway.
‘Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion’ annual dinner. 7.00pm to 10.00pm. Stockade Hotel.
Eureka’s Children’s Annual Dinner. 7.00pm. Celtic Club, Queen St, Melbourne.
Sunday 4 December
Eureka Sunday Luncheon. 12.00 noon. Old Colonists Club, Lydiard St.
For more information on any of these events visit www.eurekaballarat.com
Other Eureka activities
Eureka Stockade site – Cnr Eureka and Rodier Sts.
The Eureka Centre is closed for redevelopment but visitors are free to browse through the heritage Stockade gardens and to explore the 1884 bluestone memorial and the Eureka Circle, which was commissioned as part of the Eureka 150 celebrations in 2004.
Art Gallery of Ballarat – 40 Lydiard St Nth.
The Gallery, home of the original Eureka Flag, is displaying a full-scale replica while the flag is being conserved. While at the Gallery you can explore one of the nation’s most significant regional art collections including a special Eureka display. www.artgalleryballarat.com.au.
Eureka Trails – The self-guiding Eureka Trails brochure identifies historic Eureka sites and takes you on the paths to the Stockade of the diggers from Bakery Hill and the troopers from the Government Camp. Brochures are available from the Visitor Information Centre.
Ballarat Old Cemetery – Cnr Macarthur and Drummond Sts.
Many of the Eureka dead were buried in a mass grave but in 1856 a memorial was erected to the fallen diggers and later local citizens and the Victorian Government decided to mark the soldiers’ graves. Explore the memorials and other old graves in this heritage cemetery.
For more information go to www.eurekaballarat.com
The Eureka Centre redevelopment
The Eureka Centre is currently closed, due to major redevelopment works being undertaken by the City of Ballarat in partnership with the State and Federal governments.
The result of these works will be the new Centre for Australian Democracy at Eureka, a state of the art education and community space that acknowledges the educational, historical and cultural importance and significance of the Eureka Stockade, within the context of our nation’s overall democratic history.
The proposed development will dramatically change the nature of the building from an inward-focused layout to one that embraces and engages the entire Eureka Stockade site, drawing the local community in and leading Centre visitors out into the site.
Some of Australia’s best regarded museum and education specialists are involved in the project to ensure that visitors to the Centre have an experience that is authentic, unique, memorable and evolving.
The redeveloped Centre is expected to open in mid 2012. The Eureka Education Program will continue to operate from the Art Gallery of Ballarat.