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Video clip synopsis – Since it fluttered above a group of rebellious gold miners at the 1854 Eureka Stockade, the flag of the Southern Cross has become a symbol of democracy and defiance.
Year of production - 2009
Duration - 5min 12sec
Tags - Australia's Heritage, civics and citizenship, colonisation, conflict, democracy, exploitation, Gold Rush, heroes and villains, icons, identity, mining, rebel, see all tags


Eureka Flag

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About the Video Clip


Eureka Flag is an episode from the series Australia’s Heritage – National Treasures with Chris Taylor, produced in 2009.

Series Synopsis
Take a voyage of discovery with Chris Taylor as he reveals the secrets behind a fascinating mix of treasures from Australia’s National Heritage List. In the third season of five-minute documentaries in the National Treasures series, Taylor travels around Australia delivering historical snapshots of objects and places from the National Heritage List. He talks with experts and enthusiasts, revealing fascinating insights into our famous and not-so-famous past.

Australia’s Heritage – National Treasures with Chris Taylor is a Screen Australia National Documentary Program produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and made with the assistance of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Curriculum Focus


Teachers and students should consult their state or territory’s curriculum and learning programs.

For information on state and territory curricula
Go to: State and territory curriculum – Curriculum Corporation

Background Information


In 1851, six months after gold was first discovered in New South Wales, gold was found in the recently proclaimed colony of Victoria, first in Ballarat and shortly after in Bendigo. Thousands of immigrants poured into Victoria from around the world to make their fortunes, changing Australia for ever, and hastening the end of convict transportation to the eastern side of the continent.

From as early as October 1852, miners on Victoria’s goldfields protested against the imposition of a licence fee on miners and the administration of the goldfields.
In November 1854 the Ballarat Reform League was formed arising from the agitation against the imprisonment of three diggers charged with burning Bentley’s Hotel. The League affirmed the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called upon to obey. The League sought abolition of the licence and reform of the goldfields administration, full and fair representation, manhood suffrage, no property qualifications for members, payment of members and short parliaments.

Twelve thousand diggers gathered on Bakery Hill on 29 November for its first mass meeting, under the Southern Cross flag.

The principles that the miners at Eureka stood for – equality, fair treatment by government, and the right of those governed to take part in the democratic process – have become sacred to Australians, and to large numbers of Australians Eureka is a byword for these concepts. The Eureka spirit is often invoked as a synonym for democracy, and the Eureka or Southern Cross flag has come to symbolize what Eureka was about and has been used by many to further various causes – from striking Barcaldine shearers in the 1890s to the Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s. Eureka is ingrained in Australian culture through its representation in prose, poetry, art and film.

Classroom Activities

  1. After viewing the program on Eureka Flag, discuss in class then write responses to the following:
    1. Where is the original Eureka flag of 1854 held today?
    2. Explain what the design of the Eureka flag originally represented to the goldfield miners.
    3. Explain the reaction of the Ballarat gold miners to the compulsory issuing of the Miners Licence in 1854. In what ways did the later issuing of a Miners Right alleviate and redress these problems?
  2. Discuss in class, then in pairs design and create a large display poster examining why the Eureka Rebellion is, in the words of the program, ‘regarded as a defining moment in Australia’s history’. Illustrate as required. Ensure you consider the question posed in the program as to whether the importance to us of Eureka is ‘not what happened, but what we like to believe happened’.
  3. Carry out appropriate research then write a selective biography of miners’ leader, Peter Lalor. Look at the early influences in his life that may have led to his participation in the Eureka Rebellion, and whether the events at Eureka influenced his public life in later years.

Further Resources


Raffaello Carboni, with Introduction by Tom Keneally, The Eureka Stockade, Miegunyah Press, Carlton, Vic, 2004

Justin Corfield et al, The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, Ballarat, Vic, 2004

Geoff Hocking, Eureka Stockade: A Pictorial History: The Events Leading to the Attack in the Pre-Dawn of 3 December 1854, Five Mile Press, Rowville, Vic, 2004

John Molony, Eureka, Melbourne University Press, Carlton South, Vic, 2001

Ian Turner, Peter Lalor, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1974

Go to: National Heritage: Eureka Stockade site
Go to: National Heritage: Eureka Rebellion site
Go to: Australian gold rushes of the 19th century
Go to: We Swear by the Southern Cross – Eureka investigations project
Go to: Peter Lalor