Eureka Flag

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Unknown maker (Australia), The flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag), 1854, wool, cotton.
Art Gallery of Ballarat Collection. Gift of the King family, 2001


The flag of the Ballarat Reform League, the Southern Cross, now more commonly known as the Eureka flag, was first flown at a Monster Meeting of around 12,000 people held on 29th November 1854 at Bakery Hill. The meeting was called to hear the results of the Ballarat Reform League's deputation to Governor Charles Hotham. The anger of the meeting when they heard of Governor Hotham's dismissal of their Charter led to a call to burn mining licences.[1]

John King was a police trooper at the storming of the Eureka Stockade. He had volunteered to 'capture' the flag, climbing the flagpole and tearing the flag from its mast to do so. The flag was then used as evidence in the Melbourne Treason Trials in early 1855. It is believed that when no-one claimed the flag after the trials it was returned to John King, who was by now a farmer having left the police force soon after the Eureka Stockade. The King family treasured the flag for over 40 years before James Oddie learnt of its survival. [2]

After the battle of 3 December 1854, Francis Train, an American wrote on 1 January 1855, that: 'Politics have grown twenty years in a single month ... the miners of Ballaarat raise an independent flag and the country thrills with the purport of expected change. The love of liberty that is convulsing the shaking thrones of the old world has touched the giant chieftain of the Australia's, and the ‘Southern Cross’, three-fourths of the people say, must be the flag of the southern El Dorado.'[3]

Making the Eureka Flag

A definitive answer to who made the Eureka Flag, is not known. The flag is made of blue wool and white cotton.

Eureka Centenary Flag, 1954, Federation University Historical Collection

A flag was mentioned in October 1854 at the time of the arrest of Andrew McIntyre and Thomas Fletcher:-

The correspondent of the Herald writes on the 23rd October: ... A very largely attended meeting was held this day to consider the case of Fletcher and M'Intyre. It was proposed by Mr. Hollyoak, and seconded by Mr. Levison— "That the diggers of Balaarat, sympathising with Messrs. Fletcher and M'Intyre, subscribe the necessary funds to secure the best connsel, and defray the general ex penses of the trial. Mr. Kennedy suggested that a tall flag pole should be erected on some conspicuous site, the hoisting of the diggers' flag on which should be the signal for calling toge-ther a meeting on any subject which might require immediate consideration. ... [4]

Provenance of the Eureka Flag

Although evidence suggests the flag held by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and Displayed at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, is the flag flown at the Eureka Stockade, there has been conjecture over the years.

Stephen Cumming's View

In 1896 Stephen Cumming remembered:

I saw the flag (at the gallery), and scrutinised it, and came to the conclusion that possibly it is the very identical flag displayed at the 'Slabaide' over forty years ago, and in my opinion it may not be. I expected to sees a little tint of red colour on the face; but through the lapse of time this colour might have disappeared. Neither is the blue colour very distinct, which was so in the original. I am even now sure nearly anyone might have concocted the banner, and, moreover, my impression is that the flag was more artistic. Anyhow, we might do worse than reject it; it will be something for posterity to worship.[5]

John McNeil's View

McNeil witnessed the Ballarat Reform League meeting on Bakery Hill when Peter Lalor swore the diggers oath. According to his account McNeil witnessed Robert McCandlish unbutton his coat and unfurled a light blue flag with some stars on it, but no cross. When McNeil viewed the flag at the Art Gallery of Ballarat he stated he had never seen it before.[6]

The Revolt at Eureka’ cover by R. Wenban. Schools Publishing House, 1959.

Locating the Flag

In the Art Gallery at Ballarat, in a locked drawer, in a locked room, put away in the dark with a handful of mothballs, is an old torn and tattered flag.
Few people know it is there; hardly anyone sees it from year to year. And yet recent research carried out by the Australian Communist Party indicates that this flag is the original flag that flew on the masthead at the Eureka Stockade — a symbol of Australian democracy in that historic pitched battle when men shed their blood for freedom.
MOST Australians, when they see this flag—we will call it the King flag for it is the property of the King family—will be surprised. It is not like the usual idea of the Eureka flag — five silver stars on a piece of pale blue silk. The flag is as shown in the drawing at the top of this page. Slightly more than 12 feet by 8 feet, it has a cross as well as five 8-pointed stars on a dark blue ground. The stars and cross were once evidently white, though by now they have become almost khaki. The material is neither silk nor bunting. The flag is considerably torn. There are various holes and tears, and large pieces have been torn off both ends, so that two of the five stars are almost completely missing, a...
Considerable credit for the research that has been done must go to Melbourne artist Rem McClintock. About ten years ago the Communist Party leaders in Melbourne were helping to arrange a Eureka anniversary march, and they asked Mr. McClintock to find out if possible the exact design of the Eureka flag. He discovered that there was a mass of confusing and contradictory evidence about the exact design of the flag, and that Ballarat historian Nathan Spielvogel (well-known also as an Australian writer) was inclined to doubt the claims of the King flag. However, McClintock decided that the evidence in support of the King flag was so strong that its design should be accepted, and flags similar to it were carried in the Melbourne march. Raffaello's Design The main argument advanced by Mr. Spielvogel against the King flag is the cover design of the rare first edition of Carboni Raffaeilo's book, The Eureka Stockade, which was published soon after the fighting at Eureka. Raffaello had fought under the flag and written a poem to it. In his book he describes the flag as "silk, blue ground, with a large silver cross, similar to the one in our Southern firmament; no device or arms, but ell exceedingly chaste and natural." The design on the cover shows a flag similar to this, but drawn with more ornamentation, and enclosed in a delicate floral border:
At first glance, this would seem to be an argument against the King flag, and so would the description of the flag as silk. However, some people who have been shown a fragment of the flag state that the blue material definitely has a silky sheen, and that it has something the appearance of a coarse silk. As for the drawing—this looks at first sight very different from the King flag. But it is a fact that very few people can draw a flag accurately from memory. In addition, the design would not be Raffaeilo's own. He would probably give a very rough sketch (from memory) to an engraver, who would fill in the details from his imagination. Even if Raffaello had been shown the engraving before publication, and had realised it was not altogether accurate, he would probably have hesitated at the expense and waste of time involved in having another engraving done. And in the main the Raffaello design reproduces the features of the King flag—the five stars at the centre and ends of a cross on a blue background. For some years the matter rested there. At the end of 1944, however, the ninetieth anniversary of Eureka started a discussion in the office of Tribune, the Communist newspaper. The clash of opinions showed the need for fresh research. The Mystery Deepens First results from the Mitchell Library seemed only to deepen the mystery. It began to look like a hopeless tangle. A Mr. Reed, of Carlton (Vic.), writing to the Melbourne Age of 14/1/36 claimed a piece of the flag with two stars on it had been picked up after the fight by a Mr. Christie, and taken to Heathcote. (This claim is one on which I have been unable to get further information; it remains as a puzzling sidetrack.) Then the Melbourne Herald of 2/7/37 and 6/7/37 had stated that a small fragment of the flag had been picked up at the Stockade by Dr. Carr after the fighting, and given to the young daughter of Commissioner Rede, later coming into the possession of Melbourne historian A. S. Kenyon. Here was a clue, it seemed, that could solve the whole mystery. If this fragment could be compared with the King flag now in -the Ballarat Art Gallery, it would constitute a severe test for the King flag. Then it was discovered that Mr. Kenyon had died. There Seemed no way of tracing the fragment. The vital test had been lost. Cross Plus Stars But one fact soon emerged from the confusing mass of evidence that several eye-witnesses had definitely described the flag as having a cross as well as stars. The Melbourne Argus of 9/12/54 quoted Constable Hugh King as saying that "a blue flag with a white cross and five stars was visible in the Stockade." The Geelong correspondent of the Argus the same day quoted an eye-witness as seeing "a blue flag with a white cross upon it. In each corner of the cross, and in its centre, was a blue star — the five stars representing, he was informed, the five Australian colonies." (The reference to blue stars is typical of the conflicting descriptions, but as all others descriptions are of white stars we can assume this was an error.) The Raffaello design also shows both cross and stars, and so does the cover design of the first edition of Wither's History of Ballarat, published in 1870. This was drawn from a sketch by S. D. S. Huyghue, who was on the administrative staff of the military at the time of the Eureka fight. Other descriptions, including those in the Melbourne press at the time of the trials, are ambiguous; some suggest stars only, and others suggest a plain cross only: "a blue flag with a white cross" — "an emblem of the Southern Cross" — "the Southern Cross on a blue ground"— "a blue flag with a white cross"— "a blue flag with a white cross (the Southern Cross) on it" — "The 'diggers* flag* bearing the. sign of the much-talked-of Southern Cross. It is a plain white cross on a blue ground." Those six descriptions suggest that some people looking, at the flag saw a white cross, while others saw stars — which is understandable if the King flag is the genuine flag, for its design of white stars on a white cross half-hides the shape of the stars; from a distance, the cross would stand out, while closer inspection would reveal the stars. Lalor's Statement Finally, when Peter Lalor, the leader at Eureka, was shown the King flag in 1871 he wrote: "I have seen the flag and believe it to be the right one." This statement, in a letter to J. Noble Wilson, a Ballarat pioneer, preserved through the enthusiasm of Mr. Spielvogel and on show in the Historical Museum which he has organised at Ballarat, is a very important one. It indicates that the King flag is either the genuine flag, or else a very good reproduction of it. Nowhere is there any support for the curious-shaped cross on the cover of Raffaeilo's book. In fact the cover design on the paper-cover early edition of Withers' History of Ballarat, published in 1870, contradicts Raffaeilo's design. I ...
A watercolor painting and a sketch by Huyghue in the Ballarat Art Gallery also indicate (though not very clearly) a plain white cross as in the King flag. These facts show that the Raffaello design was not accepted in 1870-71 by the men who had been at Eureka. Another argument against it is that the Raffaello flag would be far more difficult to make than one with a plain cross; it is unlikely that whoever made the flag would choose such a design. Finally, there is no flag in existence resembling the Raffaello design. The King Flag But where did the King flag come from? Mr. John King offered it to the Melbourne Public Library in 1871. The novelist Marcus Clarke was Librarian, and he sent the flag to Peter Lalor with a covering letter which is in the Ballarat Historical Museum. Alexander Sutherland's book, Victoria and its Metropolis, published in 1888, describes John King as a native of Antrim, Ireland, who had come to Ballarat as a digger, and then joined the police. "He volunteered," writes Sutherland, "and successfully accomplished the task of climbing the flagpole and tearing from its masthead the ensign of the miners, a large blue flag bearing a white Southern Cross, the emblem being still retained by the family.
As the trooper who claimed to have pulled down the flag, John King would be the most likely person to have possession of it afterwards. Withers, in his History of Ballarat, published in 1870, writes in the Appendix that "the flag was hauled down by trooper, or policeman, John King. . . King gave the flag, or what was left of it to Inspector P. H. Smith, who was also a Mayo man, Smith died in Melbourne." Withers, in 1896, quotes a Mr. Archibald as saying Smith returned the flag to the Kingr familv. Flag Secured In 1895 Mr. James Oddie, President of the Ballarat Fine Art Association and Art Gallery, realised that the flag (then in the possession of Mrs. James King) was worth securing. The secretary of the Association wrote to Mrs. King, and she replied: "I have much pleasure in offering loan of flag to the above association on condition that I may get it at any time I specify, or on demand by myself or son, Arthur King." Why the Melbourne Public Library refused to buy the flag is not known. One reason seems to be that Lalor later became doubtful about it, writing to Mr. Wilson: "I believe it to be the true flag although it does not quite agree with the details given in your letter." Withers later stated that these details were extracts from the first edition of Withers' History of Ballarat, which Withers himself admitted were based on incomplete knowledge of the flag. Melbourne Labor veteran George Dunstan has written to me pointing out that the conservative trustees would probably be prejudiced against a revolutionary flag. By May, 1945, research had pointed to the authenticity of the King flag, but some final acid test was needed. In search of such a test I visited Ballarat, and found it — thanks to the work of Mr. Spielvogel — in the middle of an article written by Ballarat historian Withers dated 18/4/'96, and preserved (as a newscutting) in the Historical Museum. Withers' article is extremely interesting. When he began to interrogate old Ballarat diggers who had seen the Eureka flag, he found that "some thought it was blue, some red. some white, one actually had seen a black flag. Some said that the flag bore on it a cross (ecclesiastical), some said it did not, but only the 'Southern Cross.'" But — and here we come to the acid test — Colonel Rede had sent Withers a fragment of the Eureka flag, given to Rede's mother-inlaw, Mrs. Clendinning, by Dr. Carr, who was doing medical duties for the military at Eureka. (This is the fragment referred to earlier in this article.) The Acid Test "This fragment," writes Withers, "and a fragment of the King flag I submitted to the expert inspection of Mr. Grainger, the manager of the Sunnyside Woollen Mills here, and he thought the two similar, but wished to have a larger fragment for comparison, and Colonel Rede kindly sent me all that Mrs. Clendinning had, a piece two or three inches square. "Mr. Grainger was so courteous as to meet Mr. Oddie and me at the Art Gallery, when he minutely compared the Dr. Carr fragment with the King flag, and said the fragment was a part of the flag. That is to say, it was identical in material and construction, the warp in both flag and fragment being; cotton and the weft mohair. Withers draws no conclusions, leaving it to his readers to act as a jury, but surely this is as severe a test as any flag could be asked to pass. In view of doubts still raised by some people, however. I suggest that the flag be submitted to a committee of scientists and textile experts for close examination — certain stains and marks on the material, and its manner of construction, might help to establish its authenticity or otherwise. Mr. Keith, curator of the Ballarat Art Gallery, tells me that a ballistics expert from the police examined the holes in the flag and confirmed that they are gunshot holes. According to the Sydney Sun of 5/5/41, by the way, the files of the Ballarat Times indicate that the flag was made by two women from an original drawing by a digger named Ross, who was killed near the flagpole. One Eureka veteran interviewed by Withers said he remembered a Digger having a light blue flag with some stars but no cross on it; this suggests that in addition to the main Eureka flag there may have been one of different design in the personal possession of one of the diggers. ... One final interesting point is that at the trials the defending barrister declared that the Eureka flag "was the same kind of flag, perhaps the very same flag, which the members of the Anti-Transportation League hoisted when first they visited this colony from Van Diemen's Land." Thomas Dunbabin in the Sydney Sun of 14/4/35 also writes that in 1851 a vessel entered Launceston flying the flag of the Australasian League, the white stars of the Southern Cross on a blue ground. So that the Southern Cross is an emblem not merely of Eureka, but of all Australia's democratic struggles. The Southern Cross on the Australian flag today, the flag that defied the fascists at Tobruk and that floats above our Diggers in the islands to-day — this, too, is the same Southern Cross that flew at Eureka, Diggers giving their lives for liberty beneath the emblem of the Southern Cross—at Ballarat in 1854 or in New Guinea jungles 90 years later—it is all the same fight, the same proud Australian tradition.[7]

Conservation of the Eureka Flag


The Flag was washed by members of the Ballarat Historical Society


$1000 GRANT FOR EUREKA FLAG The Ballarat Art Gallery is to receive a State Government Grant of $1000 towards the cost of restoring the Eureka Flag. The work of repairing and mounting the historic flag was started late last week. When mounted, the flag is to be hung on permanent exhibition in the gallery. Advise of the Government grant has been received by Mr Bill Stephen, MLA, from the Minister of Tourism, Mr Murray Byrne. “As I understand it, the Federal Government refused to give any financial assistance in this matter, although acknowledging that the flag has historic value,” said Mr. Byrne. “I am happy to tell you that, although this is a unique application to be made to me as Minister for Tourism, on the representations that you have made and on the understanding that the flag is in fact the original Eureka flag, I am prepared to give a Government grant of $1000 on a $1 for $1 basis, this being, as I understand it, half the expected cost of restoration.”[8]

December 1973

In December 1973 Prime Minister Gough Whitlam arrived in Ballarat to unveil the restored Eureka Flag, at which time he made a landmark speech identifying Eureka with out quest for national identity. [9] The work on the flag had been undertaken by Val D'Angri.


In 2011 the Eureka Flag underwent an extensive repair and restoration undertaken by Arlab Australia, one of Australia's leading textile conservation specialists. The City of Ballarat received a permit from heritage Victoria to undertake the work, and commissioned a full assessment of the condition of the flag. The report from Artlab described the Eureka Flag as 'arguably the most important historical textile in Australia'. The key conservation work involved replacement of the old backing cloth with state of the art materials that are less prone to deterioration, replacement of the timber backing board and the construction of a new, purpose-built display case.[10] After conservation was completed the Eureka Flag was exhibited at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE) in a purpose built, low light, temperature controlled case.[11]

The Eureka Flag, the King family and the Art Gallery of Ballarat

Trooper John King’s family loaned the flag to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Ballarat) in 1895,[12] at the instigation of Gallery President, James Oddie.[13]In 2001 descendants of John King formally donated the flag to the Gallery.[14]

Charles A. Doudiet, Eureka Slaughter 3rd December, 1854, watercolour, pen and ink on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery with the assistance of many donors, 1996.

Original flags are a rarity - they seldom survive the battles where they have been flown or, as in the case of the Eureka flag, the many years before their significance is recognised. [15]

Isabella King, widow of John King, agreed to loan the flag to the Gallery and wrapped it and sent it by parcel post to Ballarat along with a letter:

Kingsley, Minyip,
1st October, 1895
Dear Sir, In connection with the wish of the president of the Ballarat Fine Arts and Public Gallery for the gift or loan of the flag that floated above the Eureka Stockade, I have much pleasure in offering loan of flag to the above association on condition that I may get it at any time I specify, or on demand of myself or my son, Arthur King. The main portion of the flag was torn along the rope that attached it to the staff, but there is still part of it around the rope so that I suppose it would be best to send the whole of it as it now is. You will find several holes, that were caused by bullets that were fired at my late husband in his endeavours to seize the flag at that memorable event:- Yours, &c.,
Mrs J. King (per Arthur King)[16]

The loan continued until 2001 when the descendants were approached by the Gallery Director to formally and legally gift the flag to the Gallery. Interest in Eureka and the flag had increased to a point where there were at that time a number of individuals and institutions showing interest in claiming the flag. The flag had survived 147 years due to the care of the King family and the Art Gallery of Ballarat. It was time to formalise the ownership.[17]

Letter Fred Riley to dad page 1.
Letter Fred Riley to dad page 2.
Letter Fred Riley to dad page 3.

In 2013 the Art Gallery of Ballarat agreed to loan the Eureka Flag to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.).

Eureka Fragment and Shaw Document
Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Evelyn Healy nee Shaw with the presentation from the Ballarat City Council. Kind Permission. Max Walters

Flag Fragments

Frederick Riley

Martha Clendinning

Frederick Riley Fragment

Frederick Riley was born in South Australia in 1886. He left school at 13, worked as a 'billy boy' and blacksmith's assistant before travelling around Australia and picking up jobs as a shearer, wharfie, on the trams and newspaper correspondent.

Fred Riley visited the Ballarat Art Gallery in 1912. The director of the gallery 'tore off' a piece of the Eureka Flag and gave it to him. Riley sent this fragment to his father F. Riley in Adelaide and it was later deposited at the National Library of Australia.[18]

Transcription of Letter dated 1912

Registered Mail No.364

Posted from Collingwood, Victoria

To: Mr F. Riley

inspector of Scaffolding

Minister of Industry Office


Dated 13 January 1912 from 283 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Dear Dad,

Trip to Ballarat was set .. to the last degree and if you ever get the chance of dropping in the place for a day don't miss it.

I went and saw the .. and they were really something to skite about.

Lake Wendouree is another beauty spot that residents of the Ballarat blow about with the best of reasons.

Boarded an electric car and made out to the Old Cemetery and saw the graves of both the men and the soldiers of the Eureka Stockade. They are both kept in order by the staff at work there.

Next jumped on a car and rode around to the place where the fight took place "the Eureka Stockade".

But now the most important incident of the trip occurred, I went to the Art Gallery to see the flag the men foughjt under and strange to say no-one there seems to value it in the least, it is hung over a trestle affair fully exposed to the public. Well I got into conversation .. with the keeper or the caretaker of the Gallery and persuaded him to give me a bit of the flag, and much to my surprise and astonishment he gave me a bit. I was with him when he tore it off.

It seems wanton sacriledge [sic], vandalism or something .. worse to tear it. Still he did and I am in possession of that piece. I am sending it along to you in a registered letter and under no consideration whatever let it get out of your possession, of course I am not giving it to you, only asking you to take care of it for me. The flag is about 7 ft square with a blue back ground and a white cross worked across the middle of it [drawing of flag inserted here] and on the white cross is worked 5 stars one on each end of the cross and one in the middle. It was snatched from the miners by private King after the miners had been beaten.

In the night I held a street meeting and had a good hearing and a big meeting. also chummed up wiht a newspaper editor who if I had had more time would of taken me down some of the mines.

If you get the Melbourne Socialist you'll see a couple of articles in it that may interest you; further if you get the paper please put it away for me.

From your son


Frederick Riley died in 1970. Frank McManus (later to become a DLP senator) referred to Riley in an obituary as ‘a great and humanitarian worker for his fellow Australians’, ‘one of the pioneers who built the trade unions… of a kind no longer with us’.[19]

The Riley Collection, State Library of Victoria is a legacy to Frederick Riley.

Clendenning Fragment

The civil and military authorities looked on the Insurgents as mere rioters, and on that basis the flag of the Stockaders would not be regarded as a trophy to be proud of like a 'color’ taken from an enemy on an ordinary battlefield, but rather as “an old rag” to be rent and trampled on contemptu ously, Indeed, some of the people about the Stockade have said that they thought the flag was destroyed there and then. I put this aspect of the matter to Colonel Rede, who replies-” I always thought the flag remained in the possession of the police. I do not remember that there was any importance attached to the flag.“ But I also owe to Colonel Rede's cour tesy some evidence of great interest of a concrete sort. He enolosed to me a frag ment of “ the Eureka flag, given to Mrs Clendinning by Dr Alfred Carr, who was doing the medical duties of the Camp at that time.” Mrs Clendinning, whose daughter Colonel Rede married, was then residing here with her husband, the late Dr Clendin ning, who thereafter filled for many years the office of coroner for Ballarat and district. This fragment and a fragment of the King flag I submitted to the expert inspection of Mr Grainger, the manager of the Sunnyside woollen mills here, and he thought the two were similar, but he wished to have a larger fragment for comparison, and Colonel Rede kindly sent me all that Mrs Clendinning had, a piece two or three inches square. Mr Grainger was so courteous as to meet Mr Oddie and me at the Art Gallery, when he minutely compared the Dr Carr fragment with the King flag, and said the fragment was a part of the flag. That is to say, it was identical in material and construction, the warp in both flag and fragment being cotton and the weft mohair. So we seem thus to have, presumptively, a connection expertly established between the Carr and the King flag, and, if so, a connection of the King flag with the camp after the Stockade action.[20]

Healy/Shaw Fragment

The fragment is associated with Evelyn Healy of Sydney, whose mother was sent her the fragment. The fragment had been in dispute with Lex McClintock who claimed the fragment was his fathers. Lex McClintock tried to sell the fragment through Christie's auction house from between $10,000 and $20,000 in August 1996, but Evelyn Healy successfully obtained an injunction against the sale disputing ownership. Final paperwork in a confidential settlement was concluded.[21]

Evelyn Healy (nee Shaw) was born in Ballarat in 1912 and played a vital role in rescuing the Eureka Flag from obscutirty through her involvement with the Communist Party. The parety wanted to make a replica for its 1938 May Day Parade in Melbounre, but the party believed the national icon was lost. Evelyn Healy, believing the flag was in Ballarat, wrote to her mother Myrtle Shaw, who spoke with the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery's custodian William Keith. Mr Keith gave Myrtle Shaw a small fragment of the flag which she sent to her daughter was a couple of rough sketches and a description. It was shown to her party comrade Rem McClintock. Later Evelyn Healy tried to retieve the letter and flag, Initially she was told it was still needed, then she was told it was lost.[22]

Hanlon-Millane Fragment

According to family tradition the Hanlin-Millane fragment was presented to Francis Hanlon by Peter Lalor. Hanlon is thought to be a cousin of Peter Lalor and was an eyewitness to the Eureka Battle.[23]

On 3 December 2013, Adrian Millane presented his family's Eureka Flag Fragment to be displayed on loan at M.A.D.E. This coincided with the 159th Anniversary of Eureka. After it's return to the Adrian Millane it was sold by Mossgreen Auctions and purchased by Victorian Trades Hall. Mossgreen went into recervership, and Adriane Millane did not receive any funds.

Click HERE to read Brian Millane's article on the Hanlon-Millane Fragment.

In the News

Replica Eureka Flag at the Ballarat Old Colonists' Club, 2013. Photography: Clare Gervasoni
During the whole of the morning several men were busily employed in erecting a stage and planting the flagstaff. This is a splendid pole of about 80 feet and straight as an arrow. This work being completed about 11 o’clock, the Southern Cross was hoisted, and its maiden appearance was a fascinating object to behold. There is no flag in Europe, or in the civilised world, half so beautiful and Bakery Hill as being the first place where the Australian ensign was first hoisted, will be recorded in the deathless and indelible pages of history. The flag is silk, blue ground with a large silver cross; no device or arms, but all exceedingly chaste and natural.[24]

Sir,-The Geelong Advertiser of the 22nd of September had inserted in its Ballarat correspondence four charges, two of which reflected severely on the character of Mr Humffray, I should not have taken any notice of those charges had not in your issue of yesterday 'Mr Amicus-sive Denovan again reiterated the same. I now feel it my moral duty to contradict those charges; however, much I may be blamed, for doing so, for as you well know Mr Editor, my motto has always been " Flat justitia elso pereat mundus" and for that simple reason I cannot allow Mr Humffray's character to be blasted innocently, or allow its opponents to obtain votes under false pretences, which otherwise would tell for Mr Humffray.
The charges to which I refer are, first:- " That Mr Humffray excited the diggers to rebellion and afterwards deserted them. The second is - "That- Mr Humffray was summoned to appear as witness against the State prisoners. "These charges are calculated to influence a great many votes ; now, on Ballarat namely, the "old remnant of the physical Force party. Few people on Ballarat are so thoroughly conversant with the circumstances out of which these charges, arose than the writer of this article.
In contradiction of the above, charges allow me to state facts and nothing but facts. It is now universally known that during the Reform League agitation were Humffray, Black, Lalor, and Vern, the two latter were stern physical force advocates, Mr Black. "Was rather undecided, sometimes voting on one side some times on the other, while Mr. Humffray always was and always has been a moral force man. The history of that melancholy affair is too well known to be repeated here, let it however, suffice, Mr Editor, that at the last moment when Lalor was organising on Bakery Hill, Mr Humffray was at his post, ready to address the the diggers. He was solicited to so by Ross and Vern, and in order to insure him a patient hearing, Ross offered him our standard, the Southern Cross, thinking that the site of our revolutionary emblem would. at least, make the person of the standard bearer inviolable; however, no sooner was the flag seen in Humffray's hands than the excited multitude wrested it from him, even threatening to murder him, unless he immediately left the ground, not could all Vern's influence prevented the perpetration of such an atrocity, and what Mr Amicus would have done under circumstances I do not know but I believed then, and do so now, that Mr Humffray was perfectly right in no ad dressing such an infuriated mob.
The second charge is still more unfounded than the first; but in order to set the matter beyond contradiction at once, allow me to ex- plain how it was that Mr Humffray's name was on the list of the crown witnesses for the state trials.
It is well known that McGill received a free pardon from the Victorian Government, not withstanding his complicity in the rebellion; the reasons for his pardon were that he was an American. Humffray, who always was friendly towards Vern, naturally thought that if one was pardoned, the other should be, also and hence he exerted himself strenuously on Vern's behalf, somach so, that he introduced in the petition on behalf of the state prisoners, a separate clause relating to Vern, and it was during the presentation of that petition, and while urging Vern's care before Sir C. Hotham that Mr Humffray betrayed such an intimate acquaintance with all minutiae of that unfortanate, rebellion; that Mr. Stawell, who was present at the audience, asked Humffray a few questions relating to Vern's case, to one of which he inadvertently replied, that he had heard so from Vern himself. Immediately on the closing the audience, Mr Humffray was summonsed as a crown witness, but do you know against whom he was to appear; Against F. Vern. This Mr. Humffray told me himself. However, Vern had to be captured first before he could be hung. Allow me, also, to-say, that this incident never caused Vern the least uneasiness, inasmuch as Humffray had proved himself his best and truest friend,"I think the strongest proof of this, is, that Mr Humffray knew Vern's retreat, came daily to see him, and performed for him all these little offices of friendship, which his unfortunate situation required, and that at a time when, he could have made £500 by betraying Vern.
This constitutes Mr Humffray's treason! What a serious offence! Surely after this Mr. Humffray will be deemed anything but a traitor. Humffray, indeed, was the rebels best and truest friend! Humffray, also, was the first man that came to the assistance of our lamented friend Ross.
These are facts, and I think sufficiently strong to contradict the above foolish reports. Believe me, Mr Editor, that no party feeling, nothing but candour induced me to write this letter.
I remain yours,
Mr Editor,
Black Lead, October 2nd, 1856.
[Mr Vern, like but too many more, is rather too fond of exercising his ingenuity in guessing at the names of authors of letters. Mr Donovan had nothing to do with Amicus .-Ed Star.][25]

Eureka ¬ The Spark That Fired up The Nation
Victorian Trades Hall Council supports Bracks Government announcement for Victoria's 150th Anniversary of Eureka Rebellion Celebration Events ¬ 10.30 am Wednesday 11th August 2004 at Federation Square Melbourne
Nearly 150 years ago, a defining moment in Australia's working class history occurred ¬ the Eureka Rebellion. Today, the Eureka spirit lives on, inspiring a sense of a 'fair go' in all Australian workers.
'The Eureka Rebellion goes to the core of what trade unionism is about ¬ the right to be heard; the right to oppose tyranny and oppression; to put all on the line and stand together for what you believe in', said Mr Brian Boyd, Chair of the VTHC's Eureka Rebellion 150th Anniversary Committee.
'The Eureka flag is a potent symbol for such struggles and the reason many unions identify so closely with it.'
'The union movement has no monopoly ownership of the Eureka flag. It is the people's flag, but unionists closely identify with its history and what it represents,' added Mr Boyd.
'All Australians own the Eureka flag. The Eureka flag is the icon that represents the fair, free and democratic Australia the union movement strives for.'
'We support the Bracks Labour government's initiative and announcement tomorrow to put forward an official program to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Eureka Stockade,' concluded Mr Boyd.
To celebrate the Eureka spirit, all Australian workers are invited to join in the festivities in Melbourne and Ballarat from 29 :November until 7 December 2004:
Thursday 2nd December ¬ evening
'A Night Under the Southern Cross' at the Eureka Compound.
Friday 3rd December ¬ Dawn ceremony at Eureka Compound
Mid-morning arrival of Union Train from Melbourne
Sat 4th December ¬
2.00pm March the route of the Diggers

Also See

Request for Recognition of the Eureka Flag under the Flags Act 1953, 2004. Federation University Historical Collection.

Bakery Hill

Martha Clendinning

Contesting the Flag, by Anne Beggs Sunter

Stephen Cumming


Eureka Flag

Eureka Timeline

J.B. Humffray

John King

George Morgan

Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.)

James Oddie

Charles Ross

Frederick Vern

Further Reading

J. W. Wilson (John William) 1829-1915, Starry Banner of Australia (manuscript): an episode in colonial history, 1885, MS 8393, National Library of Australia.


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  3. Cate Elkner, Americans, eGold: A Nation's Heritage,, accessed 17 August 2020.
  4. 07 November 1854.
  5. Wither, W.B., History of Ballarat and Some Ballarat Reminiscences, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999, p238.
  6. Wither, W.B., History of Ballarat and Some Ballarat Reminiscences, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999, p238.
  7. Sydney Tribune, 17 July 1945.
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  18. The letter was researched in the 1990s and transcribed in July 2023 by Dot Wickham.
  19. Herald, 1 April 1970, p.32.
  20. Ballarat Star, 01 May 1896.
  21. Ballarat Courier, 09 April 1996.
  22. Ballarat Courier, 09 April 1996.
  23. Research by Brian Millane, 2021.
  24. Ballarat Times, 30 November 1854.
  25. Ballarat Star, 4 October 1856.

--Clare K. Gervasoni (talk) 11:44, 25 May 2014 (EST)

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