A History of the Eureka Rebellion

After many land wars by Aboriginal nations against British colonialism, the battle at the Eureka Stockade was fought on 3rd December 1854. It became the most significant class conflict in the colonial history of Victoria. It remains the major armed rebellion in the History of Settler Australia. The Eureka rebellion and Southern Cross flag have become powerful symbols of a major turning point in Australian politics.

Eureka was the climax of civil disobedience in the Ballarat region. During the gold rush era, the diggers objected to very expensive mining items and Miner's License, taxation (via the license) without representation and the repressive actions of the government through its police and military. On the other hand, the merchants and pastoralists (squatters), in conjunction with their parliamentary representatives overwhelmingly controlled the Victorian Legislative Council. They were intent on tax avoidance themselves.

The rebelliousness of the miners in Ballarat grew from The Ballarat Reform League movement and concluded with an organised battle at the Eureka Stockade against the colonial forces.

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The Struggle for Democratic Rights

The Influence of Chartism

Parent Category: Spirit Content

The Struggle For Democratic Rights


People from more than twenty countries and a diverse range of socio- economic and cultural backgrounds came to the Victorian goldfields around the early 1850s bringing with them various social views and political ideologies.  Following the industrial revolution in the early 19th century and the turbulence of many wars in Europe at that time, new social theories developed about equitable treatment of working class people and the role of labour and capital.

The principles enshrined in The People’s Charter 1838 from Britain summed up the digger’s democratic aims and were included in the Ballarat Reform League Charter written and adopted by them. A copy was presented to the Victorian Colonial Government a week later. However, the Government’s reaction to the Reform League’s Charter was to send troops to Ballarat.


Parent Category: Spirit Content

The Influence of Chartism

The first organised worker’s movement commenced in Britain around 1824 and with it came the term Socialism which originated in the 1830's.  Extensive social upheaval was experienced in the 1830's when Chartism arose in Britain.

Chartism was a working class movement that championed a democratic constitution and political and social reform for the non-propertied class. Workers at that time did not have the right to vote in parliamentary elections and didn’t have any industrial or human rights. Chartism took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 which demanded the following six main objectives:

•“Universal” suffrage for  working males over the age of 21 (excluding  female workers)

•Equal size electoral districts

•Voting by secret ballot

•An end to the need for a property qualification for members of parliament

•Payment of members of Parliament

•Annual elections for Parliament

Widespread crop failures caused considerable unrest in Europe. The Potato Blight in Ireland of 1846-50 was the most severe, but it also had a damaging effect in the Scottish highlands, Prussia, Belgium and France. This misery mobilized mass movements in opposition to governments with demands for decent workers’ industrial rights and liberties in society generally, and caused governments across the continent to collapse. It was the powerful precursor of industrial unionism.


Parent Category: Spirit Content

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The Spirit of Eureka Committee was established in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade in 2004, to give a strong and united voice to the current struggles of Australia’s working people.

The Spirit of Eureka draws on the continuity and relevance of this important event in the history of Australia to present day endeavours and struggles for justice, democracy and sovereignty.

The Eureka rebellion laid the foundations for Australia’s continuing social, industrial and political struggles. It was advanced for its time and represents an important fighting tradition that continues to inspire our fight today.


Eureka Day

Eureka Day Eureka Day
Past Eureka Day anniversary commemorations organised by the Spirit of Eureka                     Melb Eureka Dinner 2018        Melb Eureka Dinner 2019        Melb Eureka...

Our Mining Tax Petition

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Take Action: sign our petition calling for an increase to the Minerals Rent Resource Tax. Australia is a country rich in natural resources. This sovereign...

Spirit of Eureka Award

Spirit of Eureka Award Spirit of Eureka Award

The 2019 and Inaugural Spirit of Eureka Award is open for nominations.

The Award will recognise someone who, in the spirit of the Eureka rebels, has demonstrated an outstanding and ongoing...

Charter of Rights

Charter of Rights
We pay tribute to Australia’s Indigenous people in recognition of their struggles since British colonization in 1788. OUR VISION: The Spirit of Eureka Committee actively seeks to promote a vision and...


Driving Disunity Now a Free Book

When Lindy Nolan's 'Driving Disunity: The Business Council versus Aboriginal Community' was published in 2017, it lifted the lid on a network of corporate influence and control of First People's organisations and individuals. As publisher, Spirit of Eureka is pleased to republish this copy without charge. It may be quoted or shared, as long as the source is credited.

Click here to download as PDF