Eureka Flag

Eureka Flag

Flag Adopted: No legal status, in use since 1854
Flag Proportion: 13:20

The Eureka Flag is thought to have been designed by a Canadian gold miner by the name of "Lieutenant" Ross during the Eureka Stockade uprising in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1854.

According to Frank Cayley′s book Flag of Stars the flag′s five stars represent the Southern Cross and the white cross joining the stars represents unity in defiance. The blue background is believed to represent the blue shirts worn by many of the diggers, rather than represent the sky as is commonly thought.

The flag above is considered to be the Eureka Flag (a number of variants seem to have existed), as it is the design of the flag torn down at the stockade by Police Constable John King on the morning of the miners′ uprising - Sunday, 3 December 1854. The torn and tattered remains of this flag is kept at the Ballarat Fine Art Museum.

The "Eureka Stockade" uprising was essentially a short-lived revolt by gold miners against petty officialdom and harassment by a corrupt Police force, who would often ask miners to show their gold digging licences several times a day. The miners also objected to the high cost of the licences.

Led by Peter Lalor, who later became a respected Victorian MP and Minister, the Eureka uprising was a spectacular failure in a military sense. The revolt had its roots in the killing of a miner, James Scobie, by a publican. An inquest was held, but despite the evidence of miners, no conclusion was made about who was responsible. Instead, the miners who pressed for the arrest of the publican were taken into custody.

This sparked protests by the miners who held many public meetings, and sought to take the law into their own hands by seeking out the publican and burning down his hotel. When the culprits were arrested and imprisoned, the situation in the goldfields became explosive and expanded to cover general discontent with unequal laws and unequal rights.

The miners elected Lalor to lead them, and they built a stockade at the goldfields to defy the authorities. It was at this time the Eureka flag first appeared. Within a few days, a military force of about 300 men had assembled to attack the Stockade, and within 15 minutes of the commencement of the attack, had smashed the stockade and killed many of the rebels.

Today, the Eureka flag is often used as a symbol of rebellion against authority by people at the extreme left and the extreme right of the political spectrum in Australia. It has been used in marches by neo-Nazis on the one hand and draped over the coffins of deceased Communists on the other.

The Eureka Centre has issued a Eureka Flag Style Guide to standardise the design, proportions and colours of the Eureka flag based upon the surviving specimen. Anyone reproducing the Eureka flag should adhere to these specifications.

References

Eureka Flag Style Guide
The Eureka Centre, Ballarat, Victoria, August 2003

Australian Flags
Department of Administrative Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1995.

The Flag Book
Arthur H Smout, Penpress, Brisbane, 1968.

Flag of Stars
Frank Cayley, Rigby Ltd, Adelaide, 1966.