Eureka Lead

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Charles A. Doudiet, The Battlefield - Red Hill (From Post Office Hill), 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.

Naming of Eureka

It is believed that Dr Timothy Doyle named Ballarat East's the Eureka Lead. Eureka comes originally from the Greek word meaning "I have found it!, and is famous as the exclamation of Archimedes on discovering a method to measure the amount of alloy in the golden crown of King Hiero of Syracuse, due to the displacement of water. [1]

The Eureka Lead opened up in 1852 at Little Bendigo, at a depth of four feet. It ran into Rotten Gully where claims paid extremely well. Miners in the early 1850s followed the lead from what is now known as Nerrina and picked it up again near the Yarrowee Creek in 1853. The diggers traced the lead to what is now known as the precinct of Eureka in Ballarat East, where the depth of mining was up to 120 feet, and where the Eureka Stockade occurred.[2]

The Eureka gold lead ran from Little Bendigo, south beneath Yarrowee Creek into Pennyweight flat, where it was joined 100 yards or so from the intersection of main and Eureka Streets by the Canadian Lead. State School 1071 was formerly known as Ballarat Common School No. 71, and was founded by the Free Presbyterian Church on Specimen Hill in Eureka Street, Ballarat on 01 January 1854.[3]

In 1922 the following was recorded: ONE learned how the name of Eureka came to be given to the spot. The main lead had been lost and after much search it was found again at this spot, the finder calling out: 'Eureka! I have it!'[4]

Excerpts on Eureka

Ballarat: People & Places

The 5,400 ounces of gold produced out of one claim at Eureka, and discovered by a party of twelve men chiefly Irish, of a very low caste! Several large hotels, doing an immense amount of business, both night and day, were in full operation, and gay stores and shops, containing every variety of merchangise, were springing up in all directions.[5]

A Letter by Alfred Eyre

The following letter was written from Ballarat by Alfred Eyre to the Colonial Secretary in Melbourne and outlines conditions on the Eureka Lead in November 1852:

Ballarat 8th March 1852
In transmitting the enclosed sections from the Gold Workings, I have the honor to state for the information of His Excellency the Lieut. Governor, that during the past week a considerable number of persons have left the diggings in this neighbourhood and are reported to have gone to the Ovens. The reasons assigned to their leaving are first that at the "Eureka" numbers have sunk deep holes and have not succeeded in obtaining any gold, and secondly the water their is beginning to fail.
The Gold at the "Eureka" Diggins appears to be very irregularly deposited and lays in large pockets or masses, which will account for the great quantity obtained by some of the more fortunate miners, while many others have obtained none. I consider the population today to be three thousand five hundred souls.
New diggins are reported to have been discovered about two miles from Boningyong near the "Leigh" and are said to be very rich, I intend searching for them during the early part of this month.
2nd The Escort conveys 18,075 ounces of gold today from this station, and as the one cart is insufficient to take it I have been obliged to hire a second light cart on the Diggins,
3rd Generally speaking the population is pretty orderly, a detachment of six foot police men arrived here from Mount Alexander on Wednesday last, and have been actively employed since that time in discovering the sly Grog Tents,
4th No disturbances worthy of notice have occurred during the week and the people are generally speaking healthy.
5th After the close of the present week when I shall have had opportunity of going through the districts, I anticipate the honour of having enabled to furnish a more complete and formal report of the whole of the Diggins in the neighbourhood of Ballarat and Boninyong.
I have the honor to be
Your Most Obedt Servant
Alfred Eyre
Actg P.M.[6]

The Eureka Lead

...The Eureka [lead], which, issuing from the Little Bendigo Ranges, crossed a branch of the Melbourne Road via Warrenheip - very little used [the modern Victoria Street] - and then continued through the bush across the upper part of Specimen Gully to the Knotty Gumtree, near where the Stockade was pitched, and where the lead came in contact with another branch of the Melbourne road [Eureka St][7]


  1. Wickham, Dorothy, A rich vein of golden history IN Ballarat Courier, 06 November 2004.
  2. Wickham, Dorothy, A rich vein of golden history IN Ballarat Courier, 06 November 2004.
  3. Visions and Realisations: A Century of State Education in Victoria, Vol. 2, Education Department of Victoria, 1973, p 729-730.
  4. Sydney Mail, 27 December 1922.
  5. Ballarat, People & Places, page 82.
  6. PROV, VPRS 1189, Unit 83, Item 52/7958.
  7. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994, pg 25.