First Blood at Eureka…Lest We Forget
By N. A. Kirk
The Eureka Stockade massacre on the Ballarat goldfield was without doubt a watershed moment in our history though sadly, the average Australian is probably totally ignorant of its significance. It’s not taught in schools and it’s simply too long ago. Gallipoli will possibly share the same fate 100 years down the line.
But Australian gold hunters have not forgotten that bloody December morning in 1854, and can take a great deal of pride in the fact that their predecessors were in the forefront of the struggle for freedom in our country. The struggle of the gold miners at Ballarat merged with the struggle of all Australians for freedom.
Of course we have to distinguish between the rebellion at Ballarat and the broader national liberation movement in Victoria and the other Australian colonies. The Ballarat rebellion was quickly and bloodily suppressed by the British while the national liberation movement, as a whole, was able to be quelled only through wide-ranging concessions to the people of Australia.
The immediate cause of the Ballarat uprising was the conflict between the gold miners and the proprietor of the Eureka Hotel, a particularly unscrupulous man named James Bentley.