An Australia guided by the spirit of the Eureka Tradition as symbolised by the diggers' flag and oath:
"We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties"

The Eureka Suite by JOHN CAMPBELL MUNRO 1999

eureka suiteThe events leading up to the incident at the Eureka Stockade in December 1854 were to become pivotal in the development of Australia's identity, matched only by those at Anzac Cove 60 years later.

The discovery of gold a few years earlier had brought prospectors from all over the globe to the area around Ballarat in Victoria.

At the same time that these hopeful, but not always skillful souls were toiling in search of the big strike, on another level great men were trying to create a viable colony for the British Crown. They wanted order, the rule of law, commerce, prosperity and an infrastructure that would support the thousands of people of every age, state of health and attitude to the law that had, for one purpose, flocked to the goldfields.

These two sets of needs and wants turned out to be totally incompatible and the attempts of the powerful to control and manage the hopeful became ever more brutal and heavy handed.

Leaders emerged as leaders always will and frustration led to violence as it often does. Attempts by sensible men on both sides to ensure freedom, equity, prosperity and order came to nothing because of bad timing, twists of circumstance and momentary lapses of judgment.

The colonial government prevailed because the soldiers defeated the diggers at the stockade on 3rd December.

The diggers won the day because the debilitating licences were abolished, no digger was ever convicted of treason, the Southern Cross flag still flies, the union movement was born and Australians saw themselves from then on as free citizens with a predisposition for thumbing their collective nose at authority and convention.

Australia was the ultimate victor because its national character began to be formed, societal values became commonly accepted and a determination to fight in the face of injustice began to be bred in to the Australian psyche. These qualities have been plainly seen on sports fields, on battlefields, in research labs, universities, boardrooms and in political forums across the globe.

The importance of the events leading up to the incident at the Eureka Stockade in 1854 cannot be overstated.

But to go back …for thousands of years before - the land had been at peace under the gentle hand of its original inhabitants.

It was as if the land itself were waiting … waiting for some unknown force to appear and shatter its peace forever. The force that came was the white man.No one really knows what life was like for the original inhabitants .. and when they're gone, who knows what it will be like then.

"Waiting" C (Instrumental)

The white man came to the area called Ballarat from Corio Bay in the 1830s. He brought with him his sheep and his cattle and settled peacefully.

The warriors of the Kulin people, who had husbanded the land since the hills and rivers were formed, offered no resistance.

In the language of the Kulin, Ballarat means "Resting place" and they had rested there among the grasslands, the hills and the creeks since no one knows when.

There was a period of cautious co-existence but eventually, as has happened everywhere the colonists have come and regardless of their intentions, the land changed and the original inhabitants faded away.

Violin and synth sustains until …guitar picking intro…

"Something's Coming"

To Ballarat, the Kulin people came,
they found a place to rest
and so the name became,
since time before time began,
in all their dreaming never dreamed
to own the land

This place will never be the same
There's something coming can't explain
Tomorrow's promise, pride and shame
Before a nation's born

(Enter violin)

To Ballarat, the white men made their way,
In 1831 northwest from Corio Bay,
Their fate to hold the land in sway
And watch the once proud Kulin people
Fade away


(Fiddle break – verse)

At Ballarat, soon cattle grazed with kangaroo
Beside the waterhole, sheep and dingo and emu,
And inch by inch and one by one
The sacred earth was lost
just as the land was won


On 8th April 1851 a young man called John Hardman Australia Lister looked down from his horse at a place where two creeks came together and saw something that would change the course of history in the new colony.

He turned to his friend William Tom and pointed at something that gleamed in the sunlight.
Being perceptive young men they knew what they had found ; being law abiding young colonists they understood that the nugget, like everything else in and on the land belonged to the crown ; but being young men they told everybody who would listen and the rest, as they say, is history

"The Land Belongs to Them"

Willie, did you see it, every now and then the gleam in the ground,
Willie did you pick it up,
Did you pick it up and keep it
Better keep it to yourself
Because the land and all it holds
Belongs to them

Willie you're an honest man
Like a banker counting someone else's gold
John so you're a shepherd now
Keeping someone else's sheep safe in the fold


From California they came
The ones who knew the secrets of the soil
For them but not for you
In spite of all the heartache and the toil


While others spread the news,
LaTrobe gave to the world the child Victoria
She bore a royal name
But Willie not for you the gold euphoria


And so the influx of hopefuls began. They came from England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, China and notably from California whose goldrush had preceded events in Victoria.

One of the Irish contingent, Timothy Hayes, struggled to make a success of prospecting. He moved from place to place as new strikes were made but was always too late, too unlucky or possibly too unskilled.

His wife Anastasia followed him faithfully on his single minded search for gold and in the mud and squalor of the mining camps she bore him 10 children.

What he may have lacked as a digger he made up for as a leader of the rebels at Eureka. He found his place as an influential figure both in the political conflict before and the eventual bloody rebellion at the Eureka Stockade on Sunday 3rd December 1854.

Anastasia followed, supported and waited for him through all of this and when he was arrested and tried for treason in Melbourne she waited again for him at Eureka as she had waited for him all her life.

As it was a jury could not be formed because the government could not find 12 people who would hear the case and Timothy Hayes was acquitted of treason as was every other stockader.


I bore his son in '49,
when I was his and he was mine
the year before the year the rush began

but things were very different then
when women followed after men
and bore them kids and bore the fate they bore

and little did I know back then
where being led would lead me when
his love for me turned into love for gold

From Bathurst then in '51
The Goulburn glittering in the sun
The dream of gold was glittering in his eyes

He scratched the dirt in Buninyong
As dutifully I dragged along
To Eaglehawk and Castlemaine and Bendigo

One step behind one blow too few
And rushing when we heard the news
That someone somewhere else had struck the seam

He never found the motherlode
And me. I bore a mother's load
As finally to Eureka he brought us

And though he never found the gold
He found his place to lead the bold
And stand up for the diggers at Eureka

Through worked out seam
To hero bold
I stood beside him times untold
Now I wait to learn his fate here at Eureka

I bore his son in'49
When I was his and he was mine
The year before the year the rush began.

The Yarrowee River, named by the Kulin people, winds across the plains around Ballarat and brings a fertility so great that the land around it is green even in the hot summer months. The land was desired by all who passed through, even though the Kulin had no notion of ownership, and its desirability led to disputes and bad blood amongst the newcomers.

All of the events that unfolded on the goldfields did so within sight of the Yarrowee. Indeed, when the soldiers finally came to the Eureka Stockade at 5am on Sunday 3rd December 1854 it was the river bed that masked their coming.

Nowadays the river has almost disappeared.


Violin with guitar and keyboard backing

Lieutenant Governor Charles Joseph LaTrobe presided over the birth of Victoria as a separate colony. He also presided over the complex social organisation necessitated by the dramatic influx of humanity triggered by the discovery of gold – made more complex because those who came brought with them very different attitudes to concepts such as the Monarchy and the political establishment generally.

LaTrobe had to develop an infrastructure to manage the provision of goods and services on a large scale and he did not see why the Crown should bear this burden. He therefore levied a licence fee of 30 shillings per month on all diggers regardless of whether they were finding gold or not.


Thousands came to Ballarat from every place
From every occupation old and young
Hope and desperation shone in every face
The tumult grew the golden song was sung

So who will light the town
and keep the muddy streets from flowing
who will keep the peace
and tend the dying as they're going
so many lured by gold
and so it's them who must endure
18 pounds for every digger rich or poor

The streets were muddy rivers made by teeming hordes
humanity in every form was there
from California's goldfields and from Scotland's shores
they came to find the gold and take their share


Flags of many nations flew above the fields
To them. the crown, a power full of dread
From places where the people rise
and tyrants yield
uneasy lay LaTrobe's vice regal head


The Americans came to Ballarat from the Californian goldrush and brought with them "The Order of the Lone Star" – an organisation committed to promoting the values of liberty and republicanism to the citizens of Australia.

They were well aware of the priveleges enjoyed by government officials and the indignities they inflicted on the diggers – particularly the licence hunts conducted at bayonet point. Having fought a war against the British to secure their independence they actively promoted the notion of an Australian Republic.

Nevertheless, Lieutenant Governor LaTrobe was unimpressed by the danger and in the end he was right – the diggers had no desire to overthrow the crown, as foreign a concept as it was to some. Indeed, even the Irish were not supportive of a Republic, but that was in the end. For a time it was widely discussed and heavily supported.


No more English crown and sceptre
No more pompous circumstances
And when London plays the tune
No more Australia dances

Bring on, bring on Republic
Move on, move on Australia
Bring on, bring on Republic,
Move on, move on Australia

No more laws just for the rich
and no injustice for the poor
when the system makes you sick
let the system provide the cure


They belonged on they were sent here
Now they come because of choice
Though they speak with many tongues
They will forever find their voice


Someone else's child no longer
Finding strong and steady feet
We will stand and shout "Republic"
Where all nations children meet

Chorus bass led inst then chorus …bap, bap !!

The growing divide between the diggers and the establishment, exacerbated by the licence hunts, developed into a tinderbox atmosphere on the goldfields.

The match that was applied to spark subsequent events was the murder of a digger called James Scobie – the first violent death on the diggings.

Making his way back along the Melbourne Rd towards Eureka after a night out in Ballarat, Scobie saw, just after midnight a light shining from the Eureka Hotel which represented the promise of one last drink for the night.

He knocked loudly but was sent away.

As he staggered along, muttering his disappointment, he was overtaken and beaten to death.

Unfortunately for James Bentley, the pub's owner, there was a witness and Bentley was charged. Fortunately for him, however, the magistrate was his business partner John D'Ewes.

Bentley was acquitted of murder but convicted of a lesser charge and received the minimum sentence.

The outrage that followed resulted in 10,000 diggers gathering before the Eureka Hotel calling for Bentley to show himself.

He did briefly, but only to take to horse and make his escape. The crowd became noisy but that only turned to violence after some small boys started throwing stones, one of which hit a lantern in the adjacent bowling alley.

The fire spread and Bentley's Pub was burnt to the ground. In the minds of the government this was a lawless act which demanded a forceful response.


James Scobie died on the Melbourne road in '54
At Bentley's pub and at Bentley's hands or so the story goes
Scobie was a digger, a drinker and a Scot
And Bentley was corrupt and rich
What he wanted, Bentley got

But Bentley faced the magistrate at Ballarat
" Not guilty" was the verdict though no-one could fathom that
until the whisper spread and all Victoria heard the news
the magistrate was Bentley's business partner John D'Ewes

It was the spark that lit the fire that was Eureka
The uneasy fragile peace between the diggers and the crown
Was lost when men of property could persecute the weaker
And for asking for a drink strike Scobie down

The diggers gathered on the spot where Scobie fell
Ten thousand bent on justice met at Bentley's fine hotel
They called him out to face them but he took to horse and fled
With this, a line was crossed that would leave more than Scobie dead

No-one saw the flame ignite or knew the cause
Except that Bentley's symbolised corrupt and wicked laws
And as the peaceful Southern Cross shone on those raging flames
The diggers raised for once and all the flag that bears its name

It was the spark that lit the fire that was Eureka
The uneasy fragile peace between the diggers and the crown
Was lost when men of property could persecute the weaker
And for asking for a drink strike Scobie down

The men who would eventually exact the government's retribution on the diggers, the men who now inflicted the indignities of the cruel licence hunts were, in the main, former petty criminals themselves.

In many cases they revelled in the power they wielded because it validated their new lives as upholders of the law. They had the power and would have seen little point in having it if they couldn't use it. They had the weapons and guns just yearn to be fired. They had a degree of training and that would have been no fun if they couldn't use it.

These ex criminals were now the Queen's men.


I am the Queen's man, between anarchy and order I am bound to stand
When the rebels time has come
I will finish each and every one
And sleep easy in my bed
My duty done

Once I lived beyond the borders of the law
Now they've given me a musket and a bayonet to draw
and every time the order comes I feel the anger grow
and only vengeance helps me cleanse the past
that will not let me go

When the sergeant falls us in at break of day
I fix my steel and I steel my gaze
And I march to the stockade
I dispense the course of justice humbling men before their wives
Because they must learn like I did that the rules must rule our lives

Pete lead break - verse

And I've learned how not to think and not to feel
As I pull them up at gunpoint in the mud and make them kneel
And if one beating doesn't yield their card or two or even three
Then I drag them pleading, bleeding and I chain them to a tree

The 11th of November is a date that appears in Australian history books over and over. It was the date many years later when Prime Minister Whitlman was sacked by the Governor General; it is celebrated as Remembrance day and, in 1854 it was the day the diggers were finally and completely galvanised into action against the tyranny of the establishment.

The leaders of the digger's movement called a "Monster Meeting" to establish publicly the Ballarat Reform League. The meeting was called for Saturday November 11th and it was attended by 10,000 inhabitants of the goldfields.

Timothy Hayes was there and so, less obviously, was a man called Peter Lalor, whose moment would come later.

The first Union in Australian history was born on Bakery Hill on that day and its demands were for the immediate abolition of the licence fees; the abolition of taxation without representation and the replacement of government by paid officials with government on the basis of universal suffrage.

Obviously, in light of what followed, this powerful message was dismissed in Melbourne as an "organised agitation of the goldfields and surrounding towns". Meanwhile across the world at 28 Dean St Soho in London a man remarked in his letters that only complete concessions by the authorities would serve to arrest the diggers' movement.

That man was Karl Marx.


At Bakery Hill
(there's a union founded)
It's a matter of will
(we're gonna have our say)
You can feel it there still
(where the movement's grounded)
The line was drawn at Bakery Hill

We who are many but now speak with one voice
We'll make them listen we will give them no choice


On the 11th day in 1854, was the month of November
A day just like one yet to come, we will remember


Inst Sian


While we unite here for justice, how will they reach us
We gave them no choice, now they plan to teach us

We will stand here together to fight the licensing fee
Our brothers held in iron chains, they will be set free



Chorus all in on last line

Following a particularly vicious licence hunt, the last ever held, Peter Lalor leapt on to a tree stump and cried "Liberty". He thus became the digger's leader for the violent confrontation that was to follow. He later reported that he had had no intentions of taking on this role and that, in fact, he had never spoken in public before that day.

Ironically he went on to become the speaker of the Victorian Legislature.

The stouch at the Stockade began at dawn on Sunday 3rd December 1854 when the place was almost deserted. The diggers were expecting the attack but did not anticipate that it would come on a Sunday.

The "battle" lasted 15 minutes and in the first five Lalor had his left arm shattered by musket fire.

After the diggers had succumbed to the weight of numbers and military tactics the troopers went on an orgy of bloodshed that took in all bystanders and any persons without legitimate business within a half mile radius.


My name's Peter Lalor I'm a hero
Because I just couldn't damned well take it any more
They forced us to pay at the point of a gun
'Til they just couldn't damned well take any more

But the fight goes on, the blood is strong
Eureka's memory lingers on
Australia, never let it go

We paid our way but we had no say
Well we just wouldn't damned well wear it anymore
So we burned our cards and we swore we'd stay
Because we just couldn't damned well bear it anymore

We stood side by side at the Stockade walls
Because we just couldn't damned well stand any more
With our homemade guns and their musket balls
Well we just couldn't damned well withstand them anymore

We resolved to resist whatever the cost
Because we just couldn't damned well face it anymore
The last line fell by the Southern Cross
Because we just couldn't damned well brace it anymore

It took 15 minutes and they'd worn the diggers down
Because we just couldn't bloody well hack it anymore
They butchered all who stood for half a mile around
Because they just couldn't bloody well attack us anymore

My name's Peter Lalor I'm a hero

From the grace of the first inhabitants of this land, to the colour and vitality of those who came later, to the gallantry of the Australians of every ethnicity who fought for their home – each successive generation has enriched us and contributed to a modern society with a deep sense of spirituality.

The Spirit of Eureka will be with us for all time and the Spirit of the land we live in will watch over us – always


I am the spirit of the great Southern Land
I soar on mighty wings
I have seen the rocks and rivers form since time itself began
I know of many things

I am Uluru
(I am the breath that lingers in the earth and fire)
I am Blackspur
(I am the music of the bellbird and the lyre)
I am Kakadu
(I am the whispering in the gorge and the samphire)

I was already here to see the Koori people come
Their wisdom fed my soul
The believers at Eureka and again at Anzac Cove
They died to make me whole

I have taken to my bosom those of every distant race
They have enriched my heart
I will live in you forever as in the world you take your place
And you will play your part


Many thanks to John Munro for permission to add The Eureka Suite to the eureka150 website. John is a member of Colcannon

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