The Eureka Rebellion occurred in 1854, instigated by gold miners in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, who revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. It culminated in the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, which was fought between rebels and the colonial forces of Australia on 3 December 1854 at Eureka Lead and named after a stockade structure built by miners in the lead-up to the conflict. The rebellion resulted in at least 27 deaths and many injuries, the majority of casualties being rebels.
Eureka Stockade Riot. John Black Henderson (1854) watercolour
|Commanders and leaders|
J. W. Thomas|
Peter Lalor (WIA)|
Henry Ross (WIA) (POW)
|Casualties and losses|
22–60 killed (estimated)|
The rebellion was the culmination of a period of civil disobedience during the Victorian gold rush with miners objecting to the expense of a miner's licence, taxation via the licence without representation, and the actions of the government, the police and military. The local rebellion grew from a Ballarat Reform League movement and culminated in the erection by the rebels of a crude battlement and a swift and deadly siege by colonial forces.
When the captured rebels faced trial in Melbourne, mass public support led to their release and resulted in the introduction of the Electoral Act 1856, which mandated suffrage for male colonists in the lower house in the Victorian parliament. This is considered the second instituted act of political democracy in Australia. The Eureka Rebellion is controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia and interpreted by many as a political revolt. A dedicated museum in Ballarat, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, houses a flag which the miners designed and swore allegiance to before the battle. Known at the time as the "Australian flag", it has become a national symbol, and is sometimes a candidate in debates about changing the Australian flag.