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Bakery Hill Plaque, St Paul's Way, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.
Bakery Hill Plaque, Flagpole, and St Paul's Church, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.
Bakery Hill Flagpole and Plaque, St Paul's Way, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.

Ballarat - the Spelling of the Name

Ballaarat or Ballarat has been spelt in a variety of ways, especially by those gold diggers and others who were illiterate or semi-literate. It has even been spelt as "Billerat" and "Balrat" probably depending on the accent of the person who spells it. Balla-arat is thought to be derived from two words of the Watha Warrung people: balla and arat, meaning a resting place. The "Ballarat" Song begins with the line "B-A-DOUBLE L-DOUBLE A-R-A-T, Ballarat, Ballarat"! The Ballaarat General Cemeteries carry the nomenclature Ballaarat, although for ease of referral, in a digital age, they are often written as "Ballarat" General Cemeteries. The spelling with the double "aa" was later simplified to Ballarat, though both versions co-existed until 1994 when Ballarat was officially adopted as the correct spelling.[1]

Municipal District

Municipal District 1855-1863, Borough 1863-1870, City 1870-ct

A petition was gazetted early in September 1855 from ‘two hundred and ninety-two householders, resident in the township of Ballaarat [sic]’ requesting that the township might be proclaimed a Municipal District by the name of ‘The Municipality of Ballaarat [sic]’.

The Municipal District of Ballarat was proclaimed on 18 December 1855. It commenced ‘at the north-east angle of allotment 1 of section A, Parish of Ballaarat [sic], thence by a line bearing east one mile twenty-two chains and eight links to a marked post; thence by a line bearing south to the River Yarrowee; thence by the River Yarrowee to the southern boundary of the Township of Ballaarat [sic]; thence by the said southern boundary and a line bearing west one mile and ten chains to a marked post; thence by a line bearing north one mile four chains and forty links to the western boundary of the Police Paddock; thence by the western and northern boundary lines of the said Police Paddock to the north-west angle of allotment 2 of section C, in the Parish of Ballaarat [sic]  aforesaid; and thence by a line bearing east, being the south side of a Government road, to the commencing point aforesaid.’

A meeting was held on Monday 14 January 1856, at 12 o’clock noon at ‘the Saloon of the Golden Fleece, Lydiard Street,’ to elect members to the Municipal Council. The following members were elected to the position of councillors: Messers James Oddie, Robert Muir, Dr. James Stewart, Messers William Tulloch, A.B. Ranken, J.S.Carver, and Patrick Bolger. The bye-laws of the Municipal Council of Ballaarat[sic]  were gazetted on Monday 30 June 1856. The first rates for Ballaarat[sic]  were struck in 1856.[2]

Ballarat is mentioned in the Victorian Places database. [3]

Ballarat 1851


(From the Correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser) Buninyong, Thursday morning 11th September

Henceforth "Ballarat Diggings" will be the designation by which our gold field will be known. A few brief days has peopled the locality with a hundred and twenty diggers – a number increasing every day. Tents and huts now stretch along the margin of the Buninyong Gully, in numbers sufficient to constitute a small town.

The change in the whole aspect of things here is astounding, and more resembles a dream than an actuality. It is a free community, all legislation coming from the commonwealth and all disputes, (of which, happily, there are but few and those few of the most trivial character) are referred to the body in public meeting assembled to be decided upon.[4]


An incident on the Ballarat goldfields on 21 September 1851 illustrates the intention of the government forces and their preparedness to intervene in case of disorder. Commissioner Doveton (Francis Doveton) and his assistant David Armstrong explained to the diggers the government’s decision to introduce licensing fees, which attracted an angry response from the miners. A public meeting was held immediately, and when the first men came forward to pay the fee, 13 they were struck and pelted by ‘the mob’ as Dana called them. Had it not been for the presence of the Native Police, Dana reported, those diggers would have been seriously injured (Fels 1988, p. 213)’. [5]

Ballarat 1854

Diary: Bishop Goold Wednesday November 29th

I arrived in Ballaarat at 10 this morning - after travelling the whole night.

The diggers are very much excited. I conversed with two persons - seemingly leaders of two different sections of the diggers and parties to the present movement. I used every persuasive argument to induce them to abandon the meeting they called for this evening but did not succeed. However they assured me that they would use all their influence to keep it within the bounds of peace and order. They complained of the overbearing conduct of the officials - of the frequent and offensive inquiries after their licences at all hours by the troopers. I think a little kindness and forbearance on the part of the officials and police would have gone far in conciliating them. It is however now too late. They appear to know their own strength and the weakness of the Government.

The inquiry into the insult offered to Fr. Smyth (Patrick Smyth) in the person of his servant and the illegal fine in which the latter was mulcted has terminated in a most unjust division approved by the Executive Council and communicated to the Clergyman in a most offensive manner.

This slight which the Government put upon the Clergyman and the unjust fine he was forced to pay for his servant together with the silent contempt with which was treated the address of the Catholics approved at a public meeting have forced them into the ranks of the disaffected. A large meeting is now being held. I hope in God it terminates peaceably. Many diggers went to it armed.[6]

Gold licence hunts 2.jpg

Also See

James Johnston

Robert Lewis

Robert Serjeant

James Goold

Ballarat East


  1. Dorothy Wickham
  2. Dorothy Wickham, Beyond the Wall:Ballarat Female Refuge: A Case Study in Moral Authority, MPhil, Australian Catholic University, 2003, Appendix 1, pp. 140-143
  4. Argus, 13 September 1851
  5. Clark, Ian D., Another Side of Eureka - the Aboriginal presence on the Ballarat goldfields in 1854- Were Aboriginal people involved in the Eureka rebellion?, University of Ballarat, 2007.
  6. Bishop Goold, diary