Elizabeth Vickers

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Mrs. Elizabeth Vickers, a kindly, white-haired woman approaching the eighties. has a wonderful fund of reminiscences or the most stirring page of Australian history, for she was a girl at the time or the Eureka Stockade happenings. She has been staying for a few months with her son in Malvern, but will shortly visit West Australia, where others members of her family are living. With the dream-light, of age in her eyes, Mrs. Vickers spoke to a Herald reporter of the big tent near Humffray Street, Ballarat East, where her father and her aunt lived with their families. "It was a tremendously big tent," she said, "with a wooden door. At the back was the platform where the miners were always speechifying, and near by they drilled. That was where the man who had his arm shot off used to speak. I forget his name for the minute: Oh, I know, Lalor; Peter Lalor. He went into Parliament after. Bakery Hill was where we lived. A baker had a business there and that is how it got its name. "I remember one night- a big nugget, was found there, and nil the children rushed out in the morning to see it. The miners -had it in a wheelbarrow, and there were men all round with drawn revolvers, taking it up to the police camp for safety. There were many thieves in the camp in those days. My father caught several." But after the Eureka Stockade, Mrs. "Vickers. "Oh, yes; well, our tent was called the 'Cape of Good Hope.' It was a tremendous big affair, that tent. Once when we were all away from home except my aunt, three men came and Searched everywhere for money and firearms. They were miners. But uncle had that, very morning taken two revolvers and hidden them in a hole where the horses stood, and they were, not found. "My father, was getting wood at the time, and in the first days of December, 1854, they took his wood to build the stockade. They took his horse and cart and himself, too. and once anyone, got in the stockade they would not let them out, for fear they would, tell the police. But after a lot of talk father got out." Mrs. Vickers paused in her narrative to explain how they took people's firewood and carts and that sort of thing to make the barricades." "Father took us out to Warrenheip hill, because he was afraid for us. Mother had died in Geelong before we came to Ballarat. I shall never forget that Sunday. There was shooting all the time, 'it was just coming daylight, aim "then there came some of the poor men running. Oh, their faces were awful." Why "awful," Mrs. Vickers. "With fright. We cried like any-thing. Some were shot, and the police caught them and took them, away. Lots of them had only shirts and trousers gin.
Before the police came my grandmother gave a lot of them.lea and sent them On to the hills. Of course, the police did not know that, or There would have been trouble for all of us. "All those the police got they huddled together and drove them away like sheep. It was all on Account of those licenses you know. "Some of the trouble was supposed to have been caused by the burning of Bentley's Hotel. They said that Bentley killed a man who wanted to go into the hotel, and Bentley, was tried, but was dis charged. The miners, thought he might to have been sent for trial, and they came down one night to burn the place Bentley got out at the back with a horse and ! saw him go flying by, and he was not fully dressed. He must have had no time to dress. "I remember when the 40th Regiment, arrived. Poor fellows, they had walk-ed all the way, and tramp" tramp, Trump they came along. " 'Oh, lor',' I said, 'here's the soldiers: and everyone was frightened. They said the soldiers were going to hang all the miners. All the men were dusty and tired looking, and they camped at Soldiers Hill, with tents and ammunition. "Alter the soldiers arrived, a number of miners were killed, some by the policemen, He was a very sad time when the funerals were on. Some policemen were hurried too. Then we had martial law, and were not allowed, to burn a light after 8 p.m. But" (with a smile) "we pasted up the holes with paper, and ours was a big. thick tent, so we played odd and even with nutshells on the floor in spite of the law. Men with drawn swords paraded all Ihe camps, ordering 'lights out." Referring again to the soldiers, Mrs Vickers said 'They wanted to mow the miners down, but the authorities would not allow them. The soldiers stayed a long time to keep the peace, but the sight of them was enough. They were fierce men. My father did some work at the barracks, and he used to tell us how the soldiers walked up and down with swords, stabbing and slashing at the wooden table, while one or two would wish they'd let us at, them. We'd blow all their brains out.' "But there was one soldier, a Corporal Sorrel, who was a Sunday School teacher, and all the time the regiment was at Ballarat he taught .' He was a nice man. They never caught Lalor He got away in a waggon with wood on top." Mrs. Vickers' family left for Bendigo in, 1871. Mrs. Vickers said Bendigo was "a sleepy hollow" then, but afterwards It went ahead.[1]

Also See



Cornelius Sorrell


  1. Bendigo Independent, 16 March 1914.