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Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens

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121 Stawell Street South, Ballarat East VIC 3350

Features

  • Location of the Eureka Stockade Rebellion, Dec 3 1854
  • Commemorative monument
  • Informative plaques
  • Lake and gardens
  • Walking track around the lake
  • Excellent musical playground
  • Free electric barbecues
  • Undercover picnic areas
  • Picnic tables
  • Toilets (with disabled access and baby change facilities)
  • Rubbish bins
The Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens in Ballarat East commemorate one of Australia's most defining historical events - the Eureka Stockade Rebellion of December 3, 1854. The park is extensive and has many excellent features including a musical playground, fantastic barbecue and picnic facilities, sweeping green lawns, and a scenic lake and walking track. The beautiful gardens are also home to the Eureka Centre (formerly known as the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka), where the iconic Eureka Flag can be viewed, as well as a cafe. 

Encyclopedia Britannica offers the following concise summary of the Eureka Stockade:

Rebellion (December 3, 1854) in which gold prospectors in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia - who sought various reforms, notably the abolition of mining licenses - clashed with government forces. It was named for the rebels' hastily constructed fortification in the Eureka goldfield. The Eureka Stockade was the most-celebrated rebellion in Australian history. Source

The following timeline of the Eureka Stockade is provided on environment.gov.au
  • 1852-54: The Eureka Lead (a gold-bearing deposit following the course of a deep-buried creek bed) was discovered. Mining activity progressed gradually along the lead, to reach the vicinity of the present-day Eureka Stockade gardens in 1854.
  • October 1854: Fortunes on the Eureka Lead were at a low ebb. Diggers had to dig deeper and spend more to find gold, but still they were limited to claims that were too small to be viable and still they were required to take out an expensive monthly gold licence, payable in advance and irrespective of whether they found gold. The licence had been a 'temporary' measure introduced by the government in the heat of the initial gold rushes in 1851. It was resisted by the diggers then and since, but three years later it was still in place and prosecuted more vigorously than ever. Those without a licence were remorselessly 'hunted' by gold commissioners and police, many of whom were tinged with petty tyranny and corruption. Long-standing enmity between diggers and goldfields officials at Ballarat reached flashpoint when the accused murderer of a Eureka digger was acquitted by a corrupt magistrate. Following a protest meeting, the accused murderer's hotel on Eureka Lead was burned down. Several diggers were arrested by authorities determined to stem the diggers' riotous mood.
  • November 1854: A series of protest meetings at Ballarat resulted in a delegation to the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, in Melbourne to demand not only the release of the Eureka rioters, but abolition of the gold licence, revised mining laws, and votes for diggers. Sir Charles had arrived in Victoria just six months earlier, with instructions to subdue the diggers. He objected to the delegation's use of the word 'demand' and sent them away unsatisfied.
  • November 29: At a monster meeting on Bakery Hill, Ballarat, to receive the delegation and to protest at recent roughshod licence-hunts, the Southern Cross flag was raised for the first time.
  • Nov 30-Dec 2: Determined to bring hostilities to a head, the Ballarat authorities (now bolstered by a garrison of soldiers) ordered a particularly provocative and aggressive licence-hunt. In response, thousands of diggers spontaneously massed on Bakery Hill. They chose an Irish digger, Peter Lalor, as their leader and several hundred diggers took up arms, vowing beneath the Southern Cross flag to fight together for their rights and liberty. A rough stockade, built of mining timbers, was constructed on a hillside at Eureka Lead. Within it, battalions of diggers drilled and gathered weapons for the purpose of repelling the next licence-hunt. Emissaries were sent to nearby goldfields, to call more diggers to the fight.
  • December 3: At dawn, government troops stormed the stockade and a battle lasting less than an hour ensued. An estimated 30 diggers and bystanders and four soldiers were killed. The diggers were subdued, the stockade largely burnt, and more than 100 prisoners taken to the government camp. Thirteen of them would be charged with treason, a capital offence.
  • February-March 1855: The trials of the Eureka prisoners were held in Melbourne. All thirteen were acquitted.
  • March 1855: The Commission of Inquiry into the Goldfields, set up after Eureka, released its report, upholding the diggers' complaints. Before the end of 1855, the gold licence system would end, replaced by the annual Miner's Right which gave diggers voting and residential rights. The diggers were also granted greater access to land and control in framing and enforcing local mining laws through own Mining Boards and Courts.
  • 1855-69: Extensive mining on the Eureka Stockade site.
  • 1869: Ballarat East Borough Council sought to determine the site of the stockade and, in commemoration, reserved the land believed to contain the greater portion, if not the entire site.
  • 1884: A most vigorous attempt to locate the exact site of the stockade occurred when a commemorative monument was proposed for the gardens. Several hundred old-timers gathered at Eureka Street and, after heated debate, agreed to disagree and voted on a compromise site in the south-east comer of the gardens.
  • 1885: The gardens were officially gazetted as the Eureka Stockade, under the control of Ballarat East Borough.
  • 1891: Council erected a high picket fence around the gardens, carried out tree plantings and created Lake Elsworth (later filled in to make way for the swimming pool).
  • 1912: Residents living in the vicinity formed the Eureka Stockade Memorial Committee, to assist in the improvement and protection of the reserve. (in 1986, it became the Eureka Stockade Memorial Park Committee.)
  • 1912-80s: Over this period, the gardens boundaries were extended and additional features introduced, such as Lake Penhalluriack, a rotunda, nursery, tree plantings, formal gardens and paths, drinking fountain, small and large halls, memorial gates, swimming pool, caravan park, diorama, various recreational facilities, and 'life-sized' replica of the Stockade. (Several of these features no longer exist.)
  • 1997: Eureka Stockade Centre completed, opened in 1998.
  • 2000: Eureka Stockade Reserve listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.



DID YOU KNOW...

  • There are so many excellent playgrounds tucked away in little-known places. Take a look through this great list of playgrounds throughout the Victorian Goldfields.
  • There are hundreds of fantastic barbecue areas throughout the Victorian Goldfields. Some are in parks/playgrounds, others are scattered throughout the bush. Many barbecue areas are located alongside amazing attractions and walks, so go out for a barbecue and get exploring!
 

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