Eureka Flag to fly over Whyalla civic centre

BANNER: The Eureka Flag may fly over the civic centre in Whyalla.

BANNER: The Eureka Flag may fly over the civic centre in Whyalla.

Once a symbol of rebellion on the goldfields, the Eureka Flag has come to mean the triumph of good over evil.

The banner may be flown for the first time over the Whyalla civic centre in Eureka Week from November 29 to December 5.

A group called Spirit of Eureka (SA) asked Whyalla City Council to approve the gesture.

At its latest meeting, council endorsed a banner policy for public consultation and decided that if “no substantive comments” were received, the policy would be introduced.

The flag-flying request would then be approved.

It would mark the 161st anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion in Victoria.

The flag, based on the stars of the Southern Cross and costing about $80, is envisaged to replace the Whyalla Crest Flag.

In 1854, about 25,000 prospectors from many nationalities were trying their luck on the Ballarat goldfields.

Law and order was enforced by the Gold Commission’s police force which was later reinforced by a garrison of soldiers.

Governor Hotham came to power and introduced licence checks twice weekly, but tensions flared.

Later, a group of men beat to death a drunken Scottish digger – and one offender, a publican, escaped prosecution as a friend of the local magistrate with the others also avoiding prosecution.

This sparked a meeting of diggers to try to bring the men to justice and burning to the ground of the publican’s hotel.

After three diggers were arrested for arson, 10,000 prospectors met on November 11 to demand their release, the abolition of the licences and the vote for all men.

On November 29, diggers burnt their mining licences and the famous Southern Cross Flag, which was to become the Eureka Flag, was displayed.

Led by Peter Lalor, the diggers built the famous Eureka Stockade, named after a seam of gold, but were over-run by police troopers in as fight in which 22 prospectors and five troops were killed.

In 1855, the Gold Commission agreed to demands by the diggers and the commission was replaced by mining wardens.

The rebellion is considered by some historians to be the birthplace of Australian democracy.

It is the only Australian example of armed rebellion leading to reform of unfair laws.

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