Battle at Eureka Stockade, Victoria, Australia, 1854
Date: 24 November 1999
The discovery of Gold in Victoria had a dramatic affect on Victoria. (Victoria is a small state at the bottom of Australia.) In 1853 there were about 60,000 diggers, plus their families, on the Gold-fields, of these about 23,000 were at Bendigo. In June 1853 an Anti-Gold Licence Association was formed at Bendigo to give voice to the diggers' many grievances about their conditions and centred on the 30 shilling a month licence fee they had to pay. A petition was drawn up articulating grievances and the need for an improved law and order, such as the right to vote and the right to buy land. The petition was signed by over 30,000 diggers and was brought to Melbourne and presented to Lieutenant-Governor C.J. La Trobe on Aug 1853. After the failure to be heard through peaceful means, diggers elected a small group to lead them into their fight. An Irish Gold digger by the name of Peter Lalor was the leader. On Dec 2nd 1854, Lalor ordered a stockade to be built to serve as a fort for their defence, and called for muskets, pistols and any other weapons they could muster. Once the Stockade was completed, the rebel miners assembled in side. Lalor asked them to repeat the Eureka Oath: We swear by the southern cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties. Amen!
The miners waited for the inevitable attack.
The miners weren't trained for fighting, many miners left their stockade on the Sabbath to go to church. The English Government troops not only struck on the Sabbath, but at 3am, taking the 120 remaining miners by surprise, killing 22 and wounding 12 others - including Peter Lalor. They took 100 prisoners and captured the stockade in 20min's.
Although Lalor's miners lost the battle, they eventually got the reforms they fought for. Miners were given licences for one pound a year. They were also given the right to vote, and finally miners who were in prison for treason were freed.
The miners also helped introduce reforms in government. because so many were from Europe or America, where conditions were better, they refused to live in a post convict society where Government was by the dictatorship of a British Governor. The miners helped native born Australians along the road to democratic reforms.
There is so much more that the miners did for the Australian folk. Even though they didn't own land or come from hight society, they changed so much for the Aussie battler.
I am proud to add that, My GG Grandfather Robert Sinclair was a gold miner in that area at the time of the uprising. This name is on the voting register in 1856. The first freedom vote for Australia. To vote that year, one had to have a miners licence, hold land ownership or have a trade.
Last changed: 99/11/27 13:21:47