Eureka 63, 1917

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A reenactment of the Eureka Stockade was held at the Ballarat Schowgrounds in April 1917.

Eureka Pageant


Ballarat Courier

Friday 6th April 1917 Page 6

EUREKA PAGEANT STOCKADE GROUNDS, BALLARAT EAST On the only Battlefield in Australia, staged as historically correct as possible, the Greatest Display and Pageant of this “Home-Coming Movement will be performed. The principal characters will be played by Ballarat Artists, and no expense has been spared to make this Pageant correct and an artistic success. The Pageant will commence with the Discovery of Gold by the Prospecting Party, followed by the Rush and subsequent arrival of other parties and the Building of the Camp. The Camp grows; the Geelong Mail, conveying women in crinolines, &c, will arrive; Police appear and execute one of the “Digger Hunts” for which they were so hated. Meetings of indignation are held, working up to the murder of Scobie and the burning of Bentley’s Hotel. Then the Election of Peter Lalor and the Storming of the Stockade. Hundreds of men are taking part in this great Pageant- Soldiers, Police, Miners, Pikemen, Canadians, &c, The Soldiers are trained in the old fashioned method by Warrant Officer Humphreys. Director, W. H. CHANDLER Chairman, Cr A. J. PITTARD Treasurer, J. GENT Organising Secretary, J. R. WILLIAMS Grounds Manager, Mr ELSWORTH Property Manager, J. W. TRUSWELL ADDMISSION – 1/- Tickets on sale at South Street Office, Bade’s, Pittards (Bridge Street), Marxsen’s, and Darks. Reserved seats, 6d extra.[1]

Mr. A. J. Pittard, chairman of the 'Forward Ballarat' Eureka Stockade Pageant Committee, writes to the 'Age' as follows: — 'Amongst the many attractions which 'Forward Ballarat' is arranging for 'home-coming week at Easter, 3rd to 10th April, is a pageant of the historical Eureka Stockade, and, acceding to the national desire of the residents of this city, the desire of the residents of this city, the Eureka Stockade Committee wishes to invite as many off the old stockaders as possible to 'come home' to witness the reproduction of tho actual fight, which is being staged with a wealth of detail, historically correct, at the Eureka Stockade site, Ballarat. As the pageant will embrace the services of between 350 and 400 performers, and should be a sight worth travelling miles to see, will the relations and friends of the sturdy pioneers of the early fifties kindly communicate with the secretary of the pageant committee, Mr. J. R. Williams, Southstreet office, Ballarat, as to their present whereabouts, so that he may get into touch with them at an early date? We should also be pleased to learn of any old coach drivers or well-known identities of the early days still alive.'[2]

PETER LALOR. To the Editor of "The Courier." Sir.- Allow me as an old identity, having arrived in Ballarat in 1852, to tho roughly endorse all that your correspondent "T.S. says in your issue of Wednesday in regard to Peter Lalor and the Chinese expedition to Clunes. At the time of the Eureka riot I was on my way to Ballarat from from an outlying district. The memory of the stirring days of the early 50's should be keenly revived by the Eureka pageant next Tuesday, and the part the miners played in the struggle for freedom should act as a tonic to present-day residents to to forward Ballarat in every possible way by backing up the efforts of the local committee. - Yours, etc, OLD EUREKA. [3]

EUREKA STOCKADE ANNIVERSARY - Monday was the sixty-third anniversary of the encounter at the Eureka Stockade between the gold diggers and British soldiers. During the day a party representative of the few remaining early pioneers of Ballarat visited the now historic battle ground and discussed the stirring events that in 1854 led up to the revolt at the stockade. [4]

PERSONAL. Mr. J. Williams, of Perth, who recently organised and carried out a spectacular pageant at Ballarat in commemoration of the Eureka Stockade, returned by the s.s. Dimboola yesterday.[5]

BALLARAT, Tuesday. — Ballarat's home coming celebrations were concluded to-day in the atmosphere of the Eureka Stockade, so far as it could be created after a lapse of 62 years. In the morning a most interesting gathering of men and women of 1854 or thereabouts was held at the Ballarat East Town Hall where they were received by the mayor (Councillor Levy).
Some 10 or 12 people, who saw the fight at the stockade between the diggers on the one hand and the military and the police on the other, were present. Some of them were able in their reminiscences to vividly describe the excitement on the diggings during the fifties. Among these was Mrs. Shann, who arrived in Ballarat in 1852, when she was a smart young woman of 22 years. With her husband she attended the meeting at Bakery Hill when Peter Lalor, afterwards Speaker in the Legislative Assembly, was chosen leader of the diggers, and it was decided to drill and oppose the police and military by force. Mrs. Shann was the oldest of the pioneers who met this morning having passed her 87th year. Another lady in the company was Mrs. McGill, of St. Kilda, widow of one of the leaders of the miners. Mr. B. Strange, who has been residing continuously in Ballarat for 60 years, and its now 85 years old, was present. Claim was made by Mr. Edwin Smith that he was the first white baby brought to Ballarat in 1851. He was born at Geelong in 1849, and was brought to Ballarat in a gincase. Mr. C. Phillips, a retired school teacher, mentioned that his physical appearance threw discredit on his assertion that he arrived in Victoria in 1849, in Ballarat in 1851, and was working as a boy on the Eureka in 1854. He is now 72 years of of age.
The digger present who fought within the stockade was Mr. Samuel Perry, of Rocky Lead, near Daylesford. He came to Ballarat in 1852 a stalwart young man, 19 years of age. When responding to the toast of "The Pioneers," the old man passionately expressed the indignation of the miners at the treatment of the miners by the police. "We were hunted worse than dogs," he said. "The police poked us behind with their bayonet. One fellow nearly rode over me, and I caught his horse by the bridle, throwing it back on its haunches. The trooper 'lambasted' me over the back, and broke his sword in two. There were only about 130 of us in the stockade, which was formed of anything about-timber from the holes, carts, drays, or anything. By jingo, it was a cold morning when we were attacked. We had logs burning at night to keep us warm. We were bosses for about 10 minutes, and then I saw the game was up. We were euchred. I put a gold nugget that I had into flour in a baker's trough when I saw that I would be caught. But I did not get the nugget again. It was explained that Mr. Perry had been taken to the "logs" or police camp, where he was kept for a week for identification purposes, as one who had been in the stockade. At the end of the week he bolted, and regained his liberty. Among others present were Mr. J. Wilson, who said that he was in Ballarat in 1852, and helped to carry the famous Welcome nugget of 184lb. from Bakery Hill, where it was found to the Mechanics' Institute for exhibition purposes, and Mr. T. Farmer, of Warrnambool, who was one of those who brought the Lady Hotham nugget of 98lb. to the surface at Canadian Gully. The proceedings were highly enjoyable, the pioneers particularity expressing their pleasure at such a Reunion.
A reception was also held by the mayor of the city (Councillor Hill) at the City Hall, which was attended by a large number of former residents of Ballarat.
The event of the day was the Eureka Stockade pageant, which was begun early in the afternoon with a street procession. Beautiful weather was experienced, and the crowd in the street was regarded as the largest seen at any function of the kind in Ballarat. The procession consisted largely of diggers and soldiers, led by a bullock team and waggon, conveying diggers and provisions to the field. There followed all sorts of conveyances, as well as coaches, on the way to the field. The police and the soldiers, who were so notably associated with the Eureka diggings, were also represented. An excellent idea of the costumes and customs of the early days was gained from the procession, diggers in red and blue shirts and moleskin trousers, soldiers with stove-pipe caps and red cut-away coats, and women in the prevailing fashion of crinoline dresses and poke bonnets, being faithfully portrayed. Present day feelings were expressed by the whiteworkers who made a splendid patriotic show. This was a portion of the street procession of Monday which had to be abandoned owing to rain. The Chinese were out again with the dragon.
Extensive preparations had been made to crowd into about two hours at the Eureka Stockade reserve the features of the hunt by the police for diggers' licenses, which culminated in the conflict of the diggers with the Police and the Military. The scene which was largely presented on the ground occupied by the miners in 1854, opened with the discovery of gold, and the miners at work subsequently on their small allotments ranging from 12ft. square for one man to 576ft. square for four men or more. Sixty-two years ago the fear of the diggers were the police, to-day their trouble was, with the public. The throng at the stockade, which must have numbered over 20,ooo, was almost totally unmanageable. Barriers had been erected to keep the people off the parade ground, but neither the barriers nor the mounted and foot police could prevent the public from jumping the miners' allotments and overrunning to a considerable extent the area laid out for the action of the diggers, the police, and the soldiers. Still, a fair representation of the conditions of 1854 was seen. After work had been shown in full swing, the hunt of the police for licenses was carried out. The arrival of the jack coach from Geelong with the mail was typified, as well as the general population of the field. Bentley's Hotel figured prominently in the hurly burly of these boisterous times. Around this building was manifested the fury of the miners, when James Scobie, one of their number, was believed to have been struck by Bentley with a billet of wood and killed. Bentley was regarded as being intimate with the police, and his hotel was burnt down by the mob in revenge. The burning of the hotel was a feature of the day's programme, and it served to keep the crowd back for the subsequent fulfilment of the programme. This was the election of Peter Lalor, as leader of the diggers, who had determined to resist the police and the military. The drilling of the men and the formation of the stockade were shown. An excellent spectacle was presented when the men of the 40th regiment and the 12th regiment attacked the stockade, but as the troops advanced on the stockade, the people closed on them, and not much else of the evolutions could be distinguished. However, Peter Lalor and his confederates were arrested, the Union Jack was flown from the masthead within the stockade, and the flag was saluted. To some extent the pageant was disappointing. The blame was not with the managers or the performers, who were hampered by the crowding of the people. Still the day was spent enjoyably.
It had been proposed that the scene should be enacted on the City Oval, where the people could have been controlled. However, sentiment was considered, and so it was decided to have the display on the site where the events of 1854 actually occurred.
The cash takings at the gates amounted to over £500.
During the day a drinking fountain, presented to the citizens of Ballarat East by the mayor (Councillor Levy), was unveiled in the stockade reserve. The presentation is to mark Councillor Levy's second term as mayor. [6]

Also See


James McGill

Samuel Perry

Charles Phillips

Margaret Shann

John Wilson


  1. Transcribed by Chrissy Stancliffe
  2. Perth Daily News, 27 February 1917.
  3. Ballarat Courier, 5 April 1917.
  4. Adelaide Register, 7 December 1917.
  5. West Australian, 21 May 1917.
  6. The Argus, 11 April 1917.