Eureka Site

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Eureka Site Plan, 1870 This plan shows Stockyard Hill, The Orphan Asylum, and the Free Trade Hotel
The site of the Eureka Stockade, published in The Australasian Sketcher, 14 June 1873. State Library of Victoria Collection.

The Stockade

William Bramwell Withers described the Stockade in 1870:

It was an area of about an acre, rudely enclosed with slabs, and situated at the point were the Eureka Lead took its bend by the old Melbourne road, now called Eureka Street ... . The Site ... lay about midway between what are now Stawell and Queen streets on the east and west, and close to Eureka Street on the south.[1]


There was a good deal of misunderstanding about the nature and object of the Stockade. It was never intended as a means of defense. It was the flimsiest construction ever seen. It was composed of slabs 4 feet 4 inches long, placed at a distance apart in the ground, and leaning together at the top, forming a Ʌ on a sectional view. It offered no resisting power whatever, and when rushed it collapsed like the shutting up of a book. The chief object of the Stockade was to keep undesirable people from interfering with the work of drilling, and to form a rallying place for the men who had taken the oath. there is not doubt the men expected to have to defend themselves here, and were determined to do so if necessary, but there seems have been no definite plan of action beyond that of passive resistance, and waiting fro a movement to be made from the camp. That this movement would be made , and that it would necessitate a fight, was beyond doubt, and was equally doubt that the revolutionary element was determined to bring the conflict about. [2]
Charles A. Doudiet, The Battlefield - Red Hill (From Post Office Hill), 1854, watercolour, pen and ink on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery with the assistance of many donors, 1996.

Inside the Stockade

The largest tent inside the Eureka Stockade was the Guard Tent or Drill Tent. It was located on the northwestern side of the Stockade adjacent to the point of attack and stored significant stores of weapons and ammunition. [3]

Carboni's account of the site

I pitched my tent right in the bush, and prophesied that from my door I would see the golden hole in the gully below... What sad events were destined to pass exactly before the very door of my tent! - who could have told me on that Easter Sunday, that the unknown hill which I had chosen form my rest would soon be called Massacre Hill! [4]


I had a Chameleon for a neighbour, who, in the garb of an Irishman, flung his three half-shovels out of a hole on the hill punctually every morning ... Then, a red shirt on hid back, and a red cap on his head, he would, in the subsequent hour, give evidence of scorning to be lazy by putting down some three inches deeper another hole below in the gully.[5]


I do so (drink a nibbler) at this very moment. Eureka, under my snug tent on the hill, August 26, 1854. [6]


The expert cleverness of the officer in command made the soldiers ... cross the line exactly at teh going-a-head end of the Eureka ... from my tent, i soon heard the distant cries of "Joe!", increasing in vehemence at each second ... The hubbub was going on pretty desperate west of the Hill and WE had hard work to preserve the peace. [7]


We reached the hill where was my tent. How little did we know that some of the best among us had reached the place of their grave. [8]


I took notice of this very circumstance from my tent, the second from the stockade, on the hill, west, whilst frying a bit of steak on the fire of my tent chimney, facing said stockade. [9]


...Another discharge of musketry was sharply kept on by the red-coats (some 300 strong) advancing on the gully west of the Stockade, for a couple of minutes. The shots whizzed by my tent ... Ross and his division northward and Thonen and his division southward, and both in front of the gully, under cover of the slabs, answered with such a smart fire. [10]

Huyghue's Account of the Site

Samuel D.S. Huyghue, The site of the Eureka Stockade, 1855, pencil on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 2004.
Huyghue was a skilled draughtsman and this image is important because it is inscribed by him ‘Huyghue December 1855 the site of the Eureka Stockade’. What this means is that one year after the storming of the Stockade, Huyghue visited the site on the edge of Ballarat and put his pen to paper. What he recorded here is the ONLY topographically accurate view of the actual site of the stockade, from a time when everyone still knew exactly where it was located. This drawing is particularly interesting when it is compared with the diagram of the stockade that was used in the treason trials of the Stockaders in early 1855.[11]

Samuel Huyghue wrote a diary which was used for his reminiscences. He described the path taken by the troops on 03 December 1854:

... at first curving well up under Black Hill and then striking a more direct course towards the rebel stronghold ... . Pursuing their course now without further interruption they descended into a ravine and following up a shallow gully leading therefrom and separating the Free Trade Hotel from Stockyard Hill, arrived close to the hotel and within 200 yards of the enemy's position.
The stronghold was placed where the diggers had commences sinking ... . The general lay of it was on a gentle slop leading up to and bordering the Melbourne Road, beyond which the ground fell away again more abruptly in an opposite direction, rugged with deserted working and studded with tents. The irregular enclosure comprised about an acre ...


(The Stockade) lay among the lesser ranges in a direction exactly beneath Warrenheip, as viewed from Camp Hill, and close to the Melbourne Road, the northern side of which it skirted ... the stronghold of the disaffected was place at the then southern end of the New Eureka workings, where the diggers had commenced sinking, and were what is termed 'shepherding' their shallow holes, the general lay of it was on a gentle slope leading up to and bordering the Melbourne roads, beyond which the ground fell away again more abruptly in the opposite direction, rugged with deserted working and studded with tents. [12]


They descended into the ravine (Specimen Gully) and following up a shallow gully leading therefrom and separating the Free Trade Hotel from Stock Yard Hill, arrived close to the hotel and clods withing 200 yards of the enemy's position, as indicated by the guide, when they halted. [13]


The final dispositions for attack were now made by the government force, and after strict orders to let the insurgents fire first, and wait for the sound of the bugle, they advanced beyond the hotel and again halted. [14]


At this time, though objects were becoming visible in the dawn, the view in front was still obscured by the shade of Warrenheip and its belt of forest which seemed to overhang the neighbourhood, and the troops having halted as stated, Captain Thomas and Mr Hackett, PM, rode forward to reconnoiter. [15]


No sooner were their approaching figures viewed from the entrenchment than fire was opened on them at a distance of about 150 yards. [16]


A great commotion was now heard withing the Stockade and the soldiers were ordered to advance. the mounted 40th at once commenced to skirt and hem in the enclosure to the left, whole the mounted police filed off like manner to the right, leaving the front clear to the operations of the infantry. the regulars forming the storming party then deployed with the foot police in the front, also in skirmishing order. [17]

Stockade Lines of Vision

Charles A. Doudiet, The Old Tent - BALLARAT (Specimen Hill (Tents), circa 1854, watercolour, pen and ink on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery with the assistance of many donors, 1996.
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Alfred W. Crowe was on of the moral force party, and a strong supporter of J.B. Humffray. He wrote in his diary:

This morning (December 3rd) at daybreak I was awakened by a heavy roll of musketry. Half-dressed, I ran to the top of Specimen Hill. A heavy cloud of smoke rested over the Stockade, through which could be seen the constant flashing of firearms, and the whirr of volley from the troops could be heard. My first impression was that it was an attack by the Stockaders on the troops expected from Melbourne. As daylight increased the redcoats became visible at the back of the Stockade. Troopers were riding and dashing in every direction at headlong speed, and occasionally shots showed that the work of slaughter had not yet ceased. I walked to the site of the notorious Eureka Hotel, where I could distinctly see the proceeding. The troopers still continued chasing the unfortunate wretches who showed themselves, and mercy was not much though of if they attempted to save themselves by flight. A crowd of prisoners were huddled together, surrounded by the military, and several drays were there for carrying away the wounded. The troopers slowly march back to the camp, taking the wounded and Prisoners with them. Every point that commanded a view of the proceedings were taken advantage of by a large number of spectators. Hundreds lined the sides of Black Hill. It would have been an interesting sight were it not for the awful sacrifice of life, which had taken place on that lovely Sabbath morn. [18]


The Eureka Cement Company, whose works are situated near the old London Hotel and the site of the Stockade ground, afford another instance of the utilisation of stuff that, in the prime days of the "ould Eureka," was thrown away as worthless. ... [19]


The tent is pitched on rising ground about 500 yards south of the stockade; the tent and stockade, each situated on an eminence, are separated by a large gully running east and west ..." [20]


I was on guard and saw the military ... at the point where the gully, running from the Stockade, joins the head of Specimen Gully. [21]


The military sent out scouts on foot, and the troopers surrounded the Stockade, the party on foot being covered by the fire from the force posted on the high ground in the rear of the Free Trade hotel. [22]


Captain Wise led the Scouts on foot, wop broke into the Stockade where Lalor was, on the side fronting to Specimen Gully. [23]


When we arrived we found my father had three tents in a cluster, here on the brow of the hill, where my home is still. [19 Rodier Street) ... My father was aroused on the Sunday morning by the soldiers firing, and quickly called us. We gathered some things together in bundles ready to make off. from our tent we could see the redcoats as the knelt on the ground and fired. Lester's Free Trade Hotel stood near the gatehouse, over there on the Buninyong line, and it was up behind that that the soldiers were posted. We all made off towards the Brown Hill. [24]


Raffaello Carboni's tent was the second on the hill beyond the gully west of the Stockade. Bert Strange concluded that the gully would be between Belford and Queen Streets still to be seen, though the upper position of this gully has been considerably filled in.[25]


The insurgents were posted in a very advantageous position ... It rested on a gentle eminence. [26]
Unknown maker (Australia), The flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag), 1854, wool, cotton.
Art Gallery of Ballarat Collection. Gift of the King family, 2001


Historian William Withers published a report of a lecture given in 1860:

...The Eureka Stockade was now constructed and consisted of an area of about an acre, rudely enclosed with slabs, and including several digger's tents and holes.
...The site was at the rear of the Free Trade Hotel, at the head of the little gully running into Specimen Gully, from that point where the Eureka Lead curved round by the Specimen Hill road, now called Eureka Street.
...The site was most injudicious for any purpose of defence as it was easily commanded from adjacent spots, and the ease with which the place could be taken was apparent to the most unprofessional eye.[27]


Raffaello Carboni wrote: Vern had enlarged the Stockade across Melbourne road and down the Warrenheip Gully ... an acre of ground on the surface of a hill ... The shepherd's holes inside the lower part of the Stockade had been turned into rifle pits.[28]


Frank Hasleham was camped on the adjacent hill to the Eureka Stockade and stated:

The tent is pitched on rising ground about 500 yards south of the Stockade; the tent and the stockade, each situated on an eminence, are separated by a large gully running east and west ... [29]


FIFTIETH. ANNIVERSARY. EUREKA STOCKADE STORY. INCIDENTS IN DIGGINGS LIFE.
The discontent culminated in a monster meeting on Bakery Hill on Wednesday November 20th, at which from 8000 to 10000 were present. The insurgent flag was run up-the stars of the Southern Cross on a blue ground-and it was resolved to burn the licenses, and pay the obnoxious tax no more. A fire was lit, and the diggers filed past and threw their licenses into the flames. J.B. Humffray, the leader of the peace party, and his friends seceded from the movement. Peter Lalor, the hero of the Eureka fight, addressed the crowd. Hehad not taken a prominent part in urging them to resistance, but he saw clearly that a conflict was inevitable, and method, and organisation of the insurgents was wanted. Ha urged the diggers to swear allegiance to the cause, and enrol themselves, so that some measure of discipline mipht be se cured. His earnestness impressed the men, and be was unanimously elected leader.
Next day - Thursday - the authorities unwisely organised anothor digger hunt - the last held in Victoria. It was bitterly resented. Arms and ammunition were requisitioned on the authority of Lalor and his officers. Drilling proceeded vigorously. Blacksmiths hammered away at pikes - rude weapons like a billhook fastened on the end of stringy-bark saplings. The stockade, a rough barricade, enclosing about an acre of ground, on the Eureka lead, behind where the Orphan Asylum now stands, was made Lalor's headquarters. The barricade was a flimsy affair, constructed of slabs stuck on end, brush wood, and whatever could be obtained handy. It enclosed several tents, stores, and windlass claims, and appears to have been designed to conceal the operations of the head quarters staff rather than as a fort, in spite of Lalor's untiring efforts it it was difficult to enforce discipline. Men came and went freely, and all that happened was known to the commissioner. The diggers knew that another large reinforcement of troops from Melbourne was expected, and they believed they were secure until these arrived.
Captain Thomas, the officer in command of the military forces at the camp, realising that the diggers had been lulled into a false sense of security resolved on a surprise attack. On Sunday morning, December 3rd, just before daybreak, he led out his men (276) and stole silently to the gully between Cattle Yard Hill and the hill which Rodier-street now bisects, and wheeled round on the stockade, near the Free Trade Hotel, which was kept by Lester (afterwards of Lester's Hotel Sturt street). It was bright moonlight, and just breaking dawn Lalor's pickets sighted the red coats, and fired, and were answered by a volley from the troops. It is generally agreed there were not more than 300 men in the stockade at the time. Many of these were asleep. Numbers had only the clumsy pikes for arms. A few volleys and then the charge, and tee barricade fell like a pack of cards, and the fight was over in 25 or 30 minutes from the time the first shot was fired.
Fourteen of the diggers were killed outright, or subsequently died of their wounds, and 12 others were wounded, and a great batch of prisoners were taken. Lalor had his left arm smashed with a bullet. He was hidden under a pile of slabs, and escaped. Some days later his arm was amputated, and he was conveyed to Geelong, and kept in hiding until a general pardon was granted to those who had taken part in the episode. Two hundred pounds reward was offered for Lalor and the same amount for Black, and £500 for Vern who was concealed for week's in a diggers tent near Eureka. The loyalty of the digger's was such that none of the leaders were betrayed.
Captain Wise, second in command of the soldiers, was killed by one of the first shots fired from the stockade. Three privates were also killed, while several were badly wounded, one subsequently dying. The diggers were buried in one grave in the old Ballarat Cemetery, and a monument, presented by Mr. James Leggatt, of Geelong, erected over it in 1836. The soldiers were buried in the same cemetery close by, and the Victorian Government erected a monument to mark their grave in 1879.[30]

Witness Statements

Trooper Henry Goodenough gave evidence against James Beattie, stating he arrested him at the London Hotel, about one hundred yards from the stockade.[31]

Samuel D.S. Huyghue, The site of the Eureka Stockade, 1855, pencil on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 2004.


At the State Treason Trials Sub-Inspector of Police, Charles Carter, responded to questions from the Attorney General in relation to the site of the Eureka Stockade:

'Was it on the brow of the hill? Yes.
Did it enclose the brow of the hill? Yes.
And the ground fell from it? On the side we attacked it did.'[32]


Commissioner Gilbert Amos of the Eureka Camp answered the Attorney General's questions thus:

'How was the ground placed; was it on the summit of a hill, in a valley, or how? It was rather in a hollow; it sloped slightly down into a hollow.'[33]

Also See

Eureka Treason Trial Map - [1]

Charles Ross

Edward Thonen

Eureka Monument

Eureka Timeline

London Hotel

Weapons

Other Sites

http://bih.ballarat.edu.au/index.php/Eureka_Cement_Co.

References

  1. Withers, W.B., History of Ballarat and Some Ballarat Reminiscences, Ballarat Heritage Services, p105.
  2. From Tent To Parliament, Berry Anderson & Co., Ballarat, p19-20.
  3. Blake, Gregory, To Pierce the Tyrant's Heart, Australian Military History Publications, 2009, p.173.
  4. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  5. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  6. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  7. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  8. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  9. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  10. Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade. (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  11. https://www.facebook.com/ArtGalleryBallarat/photos/a.250434721648290.68255.191066837585079/919390558086033/?type=1&fref=nf, accessed 20/01/2014.
  12. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  13. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  14. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  15. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  16. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  17. Samuel Huyghue (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  18. From Tent To Parliament, Berry Anderson & Co., Ballarat.
  19. Ballarat Star, 16 November 1860.
  20. Hasleham (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  21. Anonymous from Withers, 1887, p109, (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  22. Anonymous from Withers, 1887, p109, (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  23. Anonymous from Withers, 1887, p109, (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  24. Agnes Franks, Argus, 03 December 1904, (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes), 1993.
  25. Strange, A.W. Ballarat: the Formative Years, SP, 1982.
  26. McCombie (identified by Jack Harvey in The Site of the Eureka Stockade: Summary Notes, 1993.
  27. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  28. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  29. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  30. Charleville Times, 31 December 1904
  31. The Argus, 11 December 1854.
  32. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  33. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.