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‘We swear by the Southern Cross, to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberties’

So said Peter Lalor in 1854 at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat. The Eureka Stockade resulted from resentment.  

On 30 November 1854 miners from the Victorian town of Ballarat, disgruntled with the way the colonial government had been administering the goldfields, swore allegiance to the Southern Cross flag at Bakery Hill and built a stockade at the nearby Eureka diggings. By the 3rd of December, 22 diggers and six soldiers were dead.

Australia had been gripped by gold fever. It had all started back in 1851 when Edward Hargarves made the first “ official discovery near Orange in NSW.. His gleeful exclamation of “ Gold! “ sparked a feverish reaction throughout the colonies of Australia and made the corona virus fever of the past few years look like a mild temperature and a bit of a chill by comparison.


It had really all started years before, however, when Geologist Reverend William Branwhite Clarke stumbled on the glittering metal in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. The year was 1841 and the then Governor Gipps said in "Put it away Mr Clarke or we shall all have our throats cut."

His concerns were not without merit: New South Wales was largely populated by convicts and ex convicts who were not backward in coming forward when it came to the pursuit of wealth. If they knew that there was gold in “ them their hills “ they might just pick up sticks and “ head for the hills. “


Sadly, for the powers that be in the colony, 1848 brought about a change of tactic. The California Gold Rush was in full swing and men started to pack up and not “ head for the hills “ but head for America which created a labour shortage and the financial fortunes of the colony were severely impacted.

If only there was gold in NSW, Governor Charles Fitzroy lamented. If there was gold in Australia, the colony might well turn the tide and stem the economic downturn.

So it was that he convinced the British Government to appoint a government geologist, Mr Samuel Stuchbury. Further, the government would pay a reward to anyone who made such a discovery in sufficient quantities that it was economically viable.

Edward Hargraves had left Australia to seek his fortune in California back in 1849 but, on hearing the news that there was a reward to be had and potential for pots of gold under the rainbow, he headed back to Australia to try his luck.


Hargraves, determined to claim the reward, did strike gold and went to Sydney to announce his triumph. Samuel Stuchbury went to the site of the discovery and confirmed the find.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article about the find on 15th of May 1851.

The Australian Gold Rush had begun.


The newly established colony of Victoria was none too pleased to see its settlers and labour pool abandon the new colony to head for New South Wales so they too offered a reward to anyone who found gold in Victoria.

This was done in a quick time with discoveries in Clunes, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Bendigo.

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The Victorian rush was huge in comparison to New South Wales, producing more than one third of the world’s gold production in the 1850s.

The gold fever soon spread to the other emerging colonies in Australia with discoveries in Tasmania in 1852, Queensland from 1857 and in the Northern Territory from 1871.

The 1890s saw gold rushes in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in Western Australia.

Between 1851 and 1871 the Australian population quadrupled from 430,000 people to 1.7 million as migrants flooded in to the colonies in search of gold.

The largest non-European group of miners were Chinese. It is estimated that by 1855 there were 20,000 Chinese on the Victorian diggings.


However, the gold rush had created serious issues for the coffers of the colonies: the labour force on the farms had dried up as people abandoned their previous jobs and sought the hope and whiff of fame and fortune on the goldfields.

It was decided that the Victorian government would impose a license fee on each digger and that a band of police would be created in order to enforce the licensing and also to collect the fees.


This was generally seen as a very bad move by the populace, who were being expected to pay in expectation of a find that they had yet to make.

Due to the labour shortage, the police recruited people of questionable character who were in many cases convict thugs who rather enjoyed being on the other side of the law for a change.

It was a recipe for disaster.

The miners were required to pay for a license and carry it with them at all times or face a fine and or arrest….. hmmm… sound familiar?

The new thug police force would invade the mines and goldfields in order to enforce the laws.

The people had had a gutful. By late 1854, the miners not only declared their objection to the unfair and heavy handed tactics being employed, but also announced that they were so angry and determined to bring about change that they would fight for a change in the unfair bullying tactics that were depriving them of the right to earn a living.


In retaliation to this perceived defiance, the miners burned their licenses and threw rocks at the police. During the ensuing tug of war for supremacy, several miners were seriously wounded and emotions reached fever pitch.

On the 30th of November, 500 miners gathered under their chosen emblem: the Eureka Flag. They all swore allegiance to their cause and to fight together under their flag and to fight back against police, military and governmental oppression of their rights. They also declared that they would build a stockade with which they hoped to stave off the worst of the attack that they knew would come.


The origin of the actual flag is still debated, but the earliest mention is from the 23rd of October 1854 where the miners had gathered to discuss the fate of two men, Andrew McIntyre and Thomas Fletcher, who had both been arrested and committed for trial over the burning of the Eureka Hotel. The correspondent for the Melbourne Herald stated:

"Mr. Kennedy suggested that a tall flag pole should be erected on some conspicuous site, the hoisting of the diggers' flag on which should be the signal for calling together a meeting on any subject which might require immediate consideration."

Perhaps it was modeled and inspired by the “ Federation Flag “ which represented the seven colonies of Australia.


Whatever its origins, whether it was created from a tarpaulin, canvas or ladies petticoats, is, dare I say immaterial. It symbolised the strength of passion and desperation of people driven to despair by governmental and police over reach.

By the 3rd of December, the showdown was inevitable.

Despite their careful planning, despite their passionate objections, the diggers were defeated.


By day’s end, 125 miners were taken prisoner and many were badly wounded. Six of the police and troopers were killed and there were at least 22 deaths among the diggers:

The most harrowing and heartrending scenes amongst the women and children I have witnessed through this dreadful morning. Many innocent persons have suffered, and many are prisoners who were there at the time of the skirmish but took no active part [...] At present every one is as if stunned, and but few are seen to be about. The flag of the diggings, "the Southern Cross," as well as the "Union Jack," which they had to hoist underneath, were captured by the foot police.


– The Argus, 19 December 1854

As we have read some of the amazing stories and war accounts from Happy Expat here on Patriot Realm, I can only think of their defeat as a victory.

Within months of the loss of the Battle at the Eureka Stockade, there was a Royal Commission and the license was replaced with a system whereby the miners paid royalties to the government on their finds, not in expectation of striking it rich. The miners also gained the Right to own the land on which they worked and laboured.

But I also reflect with great sadness and concern that the fighting spirit of the Diggers is nowhere to be seen today, as we walk about in silent obedience, masked and ready to embrace the concept of a vaccine passport.

But maybe just maybe we have that residual fight? That genetic instinctive blood flowing through our veins where we dare. DARE, to rise up and have the courage to say:no more? Do we?

from last year

As our businesses are closed down, our livelihoods and families destroyed, all because of a fever that yields no gold and no reward for having survived, I cannot help but think back to the brave men and women who helped create this Nation, these 7 states and wonder:

How have we come so far, yet gone back so much? How have we allowed this covid fever of fear override our pursuit of the richness this country can offer?

We cower, like cowards at the mask police, the MSM and the politicians who delight in seeing us on our knees in subjugation.

Will we ever have the outrage, the guts, the defiance and the courage to stand under the Southern Cross and proudly yell:


I wonder. What do you think?

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