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Blog post from Wednesday, 3 December, 2014

On this day, 3rd December 1854, the Eureka Stockade took place.

The Eureka Stockade was the rebellion initiated by the prospectors on the Victorian goldfields at Ballarat. Conditions on the Australian goldfields were very harsh. The main source of discontent was the expensive miner’s licence which cost 30 shillings every month and permitted the holder to work a 3.6 metre square “claim”.

On 29 November 1854, the miners burned their licences in a mass display of resistance and on November 30, Irish immigrant Peter Lalor was elected to lead the rebellion.

On December 1, the miners constructed a wooden barricade, a stockade from which they planned to defend themselves against further licence arrests or other incursions by the authorities. At 3 am on 3 December 1854, 276 police and military personnel and several civilians stormed the stockade. In the ensuing battle, 22 diggers and 5 troopers died.

These art works, depicting the Eureka Stockade, are from the State Library of New South Wales collections

Eureka Stockade riot, Ballarat, 1854 / by J. B. Henderson SSV2B / Ball / 7

The Eureka Stockade, 3rd December, 1854 / engraved by Patterson, Shaggs & Co., painted by Thaddeus Welch and Izett Watson DG V2B / 20