Eureka 2010: Stations of the Southern Cross

Stations of the Southern Cross – 156th anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion

On one level the Eureka stockade was a dispute over mining licences at Ballarat gold diggings in 1854. However when we look at the people that made up the rebellion and the allegiance they swore to each other, we can see that it was more than that. A comrade has pointed out that the intial dispute was over the refusal of landowners and commercial interests to pay any tax which the governor then had to get entirely from the miners.

Was Eureka about one class rebelling against the laws of the ruling elite in Victoria or was it part of a movement for a better world, a stuggle for democratic rights?

The rebels certainly took on the state and were overwhelmed by brute force, many losing their lives as a result. The survivors defended charges of treason and were acquitted by a jury of their peers as told in “The Eureka Stockade” by Raffaello Carboni.

Since 2002 a unique celebration has been organised to commemorate this event to defend the original ideals that the Eureka rebels, women and men, stood for. In 2010 we were a group of stalwarts led along the streets of Ballarat by Joe Toscano who ironically referred to our homage as the “Stations of the Southern Cross”.

Meanwhile Ballarat went on about its business only stopping for a moment as we marched by.

Many of the left dismiss the history of Eureka 1954 as a small business revolt against mining licences but if you read Dorothy Wickham’s history “Women of the gold diggings Ballarat 1854 you get the sense of the type of people involved and the courage they showed. Dorothy Wickham’s talk on the women of Eureka on the night of the 156th anniversary gave names and character to the people who struggled in the harsh economic and political climate of the day.

Thanks to Joe Toscano and his wife Ellen for taking us on this tour and thanks to all the other participants in revealing the nature of Eureka to a bunch of Queenslanders come down from Brisbane with a friend to accept a Eureka Australia Day medal on behalf of his dad, Bob Walker.

In 2010 there were eight ‘Stations of the Southern Cross’. Times on the YouTube video Stations of the Southern Cross are shown in brackets.

  1. Eureka Stockade – dawn commemoration of diggers who defended their rights (oo:00)
  2. Eureka Stockade commemoration march from the Stockade to Bakery Hill (1:20)
  3. Bakery Hill – giving out the Eureka Australia  Day medals (4:17) the swearing of the Eureka oath with West papuam leader  leader Jacob Prai
  4. Ballarat Town Hall – Eureka flag raising ceremony (24:40) and swearing allegiance (27:50)
  5. March to Ballarat Cemetery
  6. Ballarat Cemetery (28:39) – speeches by the graveside of the diggers including a speech of solidarity by the leader of the Free Papua movement Jacob Prai.
    Later there was discussion of the soldiers role by their grave (53:00)
  7. Talk given by Dr Dorothy Wickham on the ‘Women of Eureka’
  8. Visit to the Ballarat Regional Art gallery which houses paintings and the Eureka flag. A note about the little drummer boy (1:01:47).

Before I went to Ballarat a poet in Brisbane said to me that people talk of the 22 people who died at Eureka but no one knows their names. Well, Ross, here is one version on the memorial standing on the hill above the Eureka Stockade. This list is incomplete and inaccurate. See “Deaths at Eureka” by Dorothy Wickham for a more accurate list.

Ian Curr
December 2010


Women of the Diggings Ballarat 1854 by Dorothy Wickham. Published by BHS Publishing Ballarat Victoria.

The Eureka Stockade by Rafaello Carboni


6 thoughts on “Eureka 2010: Stations of the Southern Cross

  1. 1/ Why no mention of Chinese or Aboriginal people and their struggles on the Ballarat goldfields? Were there any conversations about these issues not caught by your camera?

    “”If these heathens who came here to pollute our blood and debauch our young children are not put under severe regulations we may reckon an epidemic sooner or later that may be as deadly as leprosy.”
    Ballarat Star, August 20, 1866

    Eureka must be looked at in the context of the Lambing Flats riots to understand the consciousness of the goldfields.

    2/ The Eureka struggle is not the same as the West Papua Struggle, it is the same as the foreign gold miners’ cause in West Papua. The Aboriginal struggle of the Ballarat goldfield is what is the same as the West Papua struggle.

    It is racist colonialism to try and define or understand the West Papuan struggle in terms of a white Australian myth

    3/ It is a false distinction between the honourable diggers and the dishonourable soldiers as they later joined as brothers, as volunteers in the imperial army, to crush the Maori rebellions – and get real estate in N.Z.

    4/ Peter Lalor was no small businessman, he was (apart from being a politician) a director of a mining company that began a mining dynasty that developed the Western Australian mining industry .

    Lalor came from a ruling class Irish family and his descendents played their part in building the Australian ruling class. The Eureka movement’s embrace of this man as their leader is a clear indication of the political consciousness of the movement and the meaning behind their various statements about liberty.

    5/ Joe hit the nail on the head when he acknowledged the southern cross is a symbol of unity that even incorporates white power fascists. The problem is who this symbol does not include.

  2. Hello John,

    A brief response to your points above.

    There was acknowledgement of aboriginal people throughout the day.

    The aboriginal flag flew at the town hall.

    When we arrived at the Eureka stockade we were greeted by an aboriginal person, Ellen, who led the march (in a wheel chair).

    Dorothy Wickham spoke of the role of aboriginal women at the talk in the evening.

    It was Jacob Prai, the leader of the West Papua movement, who made the comparison between the Free Papua movement and the struggle at Eureka.

    Jacob made the comparison between the morning star flag of the one people movement (OPM) in Papua and the Eureka flag.

    Jacob explained the meaning of his flag. The colours represent fraternity (red), equality (white stripe), justice (blue stripe). Eureka came not long after the French revolution, the Chartists revolt and the 1948 revolutions in Europe. The diggers were doubtless informed by these movements as are the national liberation movements of Kanacky and Papua.

    Jacob acknowledged these things along the march in discussions with the marchers and at the graveside of the diggers in a very moving speech.

    As an aside, a representative of the OPM lived in West End, Brisbane, for many years, he is from the same tribe as Jacob and now lives in retirement at Sandgate.

    John, I can understand you having have problems with contradiction but to replace it with purity and moralism will not get anyone anywhere.


  3. Hello Ian,

    Yes I knew Matthew when he was in West End.

    All this has nothing to do with moral purity, my challenge is only that you and your readers acknowledge the contradictions. To accuse me of moral purity is just an emotional fob-off in exactly the same way that Pauline Hanson and John Howard dismiss the black arm band view of history as guilt obsessed.

    Obscure poetry and emotional fob-offs are not responses that one might expect from a blog that lists amongst its priorities “The struggle of indigenous people for land rights and social justice in Australia.”

    If you compartmentalise reality – blackfella issues in one box and migrant working class issues in another – then the inherent contradictions will never be resolved, they will fester as hypocrisy and false myth into the next generation of non-Aboriginal political activists.

    Be brave enough to explore the contradictions raised by your own coupling of indigenous and working class agendas on BT.

    I am not saying ignore Eureka. I agree with Shane Howard when he says that Eureka is part of whitefella dreaming. I say we should fully embrace the myth as part of our national identity – not as glorious jingoism but as the brutal and unpleasant truth of who, where and why we are today. Lambing Flats is as much part of our dreaming as Eureka and Vinegar Hill are.

    Our dreaming is repentance and reconciliation. The Eureka myth must play a part in this if it is to be relevant to the future. The nationalist left (except me) has presented the Eureka myth as a pillar of the white Australia myth.

    Speaking of the white Australia myth, the imposition of migration restrictions and the deporting of Chinese was one of the “wins” of the review of the Eureka uprising. The stockade laid the foundations for the white Australia policy, a policy enthusiastically replicated by the shearers strike that rallied under the southern cross and then absorbed as policy in the new ALP where it stayed until Grasby.

  4. Message from Benny Wenda, West Papuan independence leader in the United Kingdom says:

    Editor’s Note: Les Malezer has sent this message from the leader of the West Papuans in the UK. Since Jacob Prai the West Papuan leader in Australia made a speech at the graveside of the Eureka matyrs, I thought it good to include the message from Benny Wenda here. Jacob Prai’s speech is on YouTube video shown in the main article. The Free Papua website is @ Thanks Les

    Dear Friend of West Papua,

    As 2010 draws to a close, I wanted to send through an update on current developments with West Papua and the work of the Free West Papua Campaign.

    Last week, I travelled to Senegal in Africa, where I met the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. I was invited to give a speech to an audience of African delegates, where I informed them of the suffering of the Papuan people – a people whose ancestors came from Africa. The Senegalese President also addressed the audience and stated that the issue of West Papua is now an African issue, and urged those present to give due attention to the situation. I believe support from African nations will be crucial on the road towards bringing justice and change in West Papua, and am very pleased with how this visit went.

    In the House of Lords in the UK last week, several peers raised questions regarding human rights abuses in West Papua including Lord Harries and Baron Avebury from International Parliamentarians for West
    Papua (IPWP). During the parlimentary exchange it was also revealed that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg raised concerns about human rights abuses and the ban on foreign journalists to West Papua during
    a meeting with Indonesian Government officials at the Asia-EU Summit in October. There was also confirmation that UK Government officials will be following up these concerns.

    The Free West Papua Campaign website is online again after coming under a sustained cyber attack from late October onwards. This attack coincided with the release of footage showing Indonesian troops torturing civilians in West Papua. Channel 4 News in the UK ran a report on both the torture footage and the subsequent cyber attacks, which also affected organisations including Survival, Asian Human Rights Commission, FPCN and West Papua Media Alerts. It is strongly suspected that these attacks were carried out by the Indonesian Government as a way of preventing people from seeing the footage showing their soldiers involved in torture.

    We hope that the ongoing investigation will expose the perperators of this attack and their attempts to silence the voice of West Papua’s suffering.

    I want to thank every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your support; whether you have attended a demo, given a donation, or simply told a friend about the situation in West Papua – every action is
    helping raise the profile of this critically important issue. This year has seen West Papua come into the wider public consciousness, and we are now seeing pressure being placed on Indonesia from the highest levels of Government, as well as support from parts of the world where there was previously no awareness about the situation.

    Unfortunately the situation in West Papua remains grave. I receive daily reports of atrocities being committed by the Indonesian military rape, torture and killings against innocent civilians. Just last month 8 people from my home village were arrested on their way to a relatives funeral because they had the West Papua national flag in
    their possession.

    My position remains the same. I am a servant to my people who have no voice, and I will endeavour in 2011 to do everything I possibly can to continue to raise the profile of my peoples suffering. Whilst my people continue to suffer and continue to die, nothing will stop my campaign.

    Thank you for your support, and I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

    Wa wa wa

    Benny Wenda
    West Papuan independence leader in the United Kingdom &
    Chair of the Koteka Tribal Assembly

  5. West Papuan struggle on paradigm shift today says:

    Please listen to Paradigm Shift today at 12 noon 9 Dec 2011 4ZZZ FM 102.1- it is about the West Papuan struggle being led by the OPM (One Peoples Movement)

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