Ballarat Reform League Inc. Ballarat Monuments

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Map showing placement of Ballarat monuments, Courtesy Ballarat Reform League Inc.

The Ballarat Reform League Inc. has completed monuments in three key Ballarat to identify the sites as important to the original Ballarat Reform League. The three sites are:-

  • Bakery Hill - plaques on wall and footpath
  • Main Road, Ballarat East - plaque in footpath
  • Eureka Stockade Memorial Park - 3 plaques


Bakery Hill Monument

Plaque 1 was placed at Bakery Hill by the Ballarat Reform League Inc. in 2004, and commemorates the meeting held on 11 November 1854. The plaque includes the words:-

Bakery Hill is obtaining a creditable notoriety, as the rallying ground for Australian freedom. It must never be forgotten in the future history of this great country, that on Saturday, Nov. 11th, 1854, on Bakery Hill, and in the presence of about

ten thousand men, was first proposed, and unanimously adopted, the draft prospectus of Australian Independence. We refer to that of the Ballarat Reform League.' [1]

Plaque 2 was placed at Bakery Hill but the Ballarat Reform League Inc. in 2004, and commemorates the meeting held on 29 November 1854. The plaque includes the words:-

From our own Correspondent. 29th Nov. 4 am. Ere many minutes the sun shall have risen on a day fraught with interest, pregnant with the destiny of Victoria and consequently of Australia. [2]

On 29 November 1854 a Monster Meeting of 10,000 to 12,000 men gathered for the first time around the new flag and heard of the failure of the talks between their delegates and Governor Charles Hotham and angrily rejected any further conciliatory moves.

At 3 o'clock an impromptu meeting was held on Bakery Hill, when volunteers were called for ... They assembled round the Australian flag ... They all knelt down around the flag, swore to defend each other, and prayed heaven to prosper them. [3]

Plaque two also depicts Charles Doudiet's work Swearing Allegiance to the Southern Cross, 1854. The watercolour, reproduced with the permission of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, was purchased with the assistance of many donors in 1996. It is the only visual record of the crucial meeting held at this spot on 29th November 1854. It shows Peter Lalor calling on those present to swear allegiance to the Eureka Flag, the Southern Cross.

Main Road, Ballarat East Monument

Main Road Footpath Plaque

Near this site stood the Star Hotel where the Ballarat Reform League members, an apolitical group of Ballaarat citizens, met in 1854 to compose their Charter. This included such goals as Manhood Suffrage and Full and Fair Representation. On 11 November 1854 on Bakery Hill around 10,000 people gathered to mark the birth of the Ballarat Reform League.

This plaque was placed in 2003 by the Ballarat Reform League Inc. with the assistance of The Vera Moore Foundation.

Eureka Stockade Memorial Park Monument

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project, Eureka Park, 2013. Photography: Clare Gervasoni.

Plaque one:

Battle at Eureka Stockade 3rd December 1854
At this place in the early hours of Sunday 3 December 1854, there was a defining moment in Australia's history. Without warning, a superior government force attacked a makeshift stockade built by a few hundred angry men to defend themselves from further armed hunts to enforce the unpopular licence tax to dig for gold.
The tax was a lesser irritant than the corruption of Ballarat officials, gross miscarriages of justice, and lack of sympathy for the extraordinary dangers and financial risks taken by partnerships of diggers and storekeepers in the deep sinkings. As the Ballaarat Times said on 28 October:
It is not fines, imprisonments, taxation and bayonets that is required to keep a people tranquil and content. It is attention to their wants and their just rights alone that will make the miners content.
Months of unrest culminated on Thursday 30 November 1854 with a provocative licence hunt by police and soldiers. Aimed to crush criticism the hunt only created fury. The most belligerent rushed to Bakery Hill where the flag of the Ballarat Reform League proclaimed community concern for civil liberty and constitutional rights. Led by Peter Lalor, an Irishman, they swore by the Southern Cross to hazard all in defence of their rights.
Protest had been turned into resistance, which the authorities interpreted as insurrection. They believed that attacking the stockade would save the colony. Many lives were lost in an unnecessary battle, for which the government was condemned.
Because the terrible system failure discredited the gentry who ran it, the democratic outcome was social as well as political. By their sacrifice, the brash stockaders had achieved the peaceful goal of the Reform League and had hallowed its Southern Cross flag.

Plaque two:

International reaction to the Eureka Stockade
By March 1855, as ships bearing news from Australia arrived, newspapers around the world carried stories of the Eureka Stockade. In some papers reports of the mass meetings and battle took precedence over reports about the Crimean War.
The greatest attention to the story was in England. But it was also reported in other countries including France, Ireland, Italy and the United States of America.
In London it was initially described as an insurrection. In the USA, France and Italy it was seen as a struggle against the British government by a people seeking justice and a voice in their own government.
After the introduction of reforms, in line with the goals of the Ballarat Reform League, the following report appeared in New York:As often happens, the vanquished were the victors in the end.
The emeute (riot) at Ballaarat settled the question that the Australian deserved independence, and they got it accordingly. It need hardly be said that had there been a man of judgement and sense at Ballaarat, both revolt and bloodshed might have been avoided.Harper's Weekly. Journal of Civilisation. Saturday 28 February 1857
Placed by the Ballarat Reform League Inc on 3rd December 2008 with the assistance of The Vera Moore Foundation.

Plaque three:

Charles Doudiet, 'Eureka Slaughter 3rd December' 1854

Watercolour purchased with the assistance of many donors, 1996 Reproduced with permission of The Art Gallery of Ballarat
An eyewitness view by a young Canadian digger. Placed by the Ballarat Reform League Inc. on 3rd December 2008

with the assistance of The Vera Moore Foundation.

Map of Victoria showing sites of Ballarat Reform League Inc. monuments, Courtesy Ballarat Reform League Inc.

Also See

Ballarat Reform League

Ballarat Reform League Inc.

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Bendigo Monuments

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Buninyong Monument

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Chewton Monument

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Creswick Monument

Eureka Stockade Memorial Park

Other Sites

http://www.ballaratreformleague.org.au/plaques.htm

References

  1. Ballarat Times, 18th November 1854.
  2. Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, 30th November 1854.
  3. Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, 2nd December 1854.