'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties!' The diggers' oath, 30 November 1854.

The home of Australian democracy

The battle at the Eureka Stockade near Ballarat in 1854 changed Australia forever. It has come to represent popular struggle and has been called the birthplace of Australian democracy.

No votes, no rights

From the early 1850s, hopefuls coming to the Victorian goldfields were required to pay high fees for mining licences and were ill-treated and harassed by the authorities who were meant to protect them. The government dismissed the complaints of this itinerant population, who had no vote and couldn't buy land.

The diggers' flag

By 1854, the diggers of Ballarat were fed up. When their appeal to the government for justice was refused, they declared that they would stop buying gold licences and beneath the diggers' flag – the Southern Cross – swore to defend each other against the authorities. In a time of great hardship and brutal law their resistance was brave. The men of the stockade were risking all and the flag that came to represent their courage and vision now hangs in the Eureka Centre as a monument to their struggle.

Battle for victory

Before dawn on 3 December 1854, government troops stormed the diggers' flimsy stockade at Eureka Lead, Ballarat. In a fiery battle that lasted only 20 minutes, more than 30 men were killed. Charged with high treason, the diggers' leaders were all eventually acquitted. Within a year the diggers won the vote and the hated gold licence was abolished and replaced with a less expensive Miner's licence.

Visit the Eureka Centre, housed on the site of the rebellion, to see the famous flag and wander the grounds of the Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens.


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