Eureka anger still burns in Ballarat

MANY historians argue democracy was born 158 years ago when Victorian gold miners stood together at Eureka to demand fair treatment and justice.

Ballarat will commemorate the 158th anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion on Monday, but how much significance does this historical event have for the average person today?

The ire of the Eureka spirit lives on for a group of protestors who will gather at Ballarat’s Eureka Monument at first light on Monday and burn a cardboard effigy of senior Department of Defence figure Michael Krause.

Effigy maker Graeme Dunstan said Major General Krause had opened the door for the deployment of US Marines in Darwin and was therefore an apt target for the occasion.

The effigy burning is now part of the Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion tradition, an event in which participants gather at the Stockade Monument at Eureka for a dawn vigil to remember those who died fighting to defend basic rights and liberties. 

It pays tribute to the fact the Eureka Rebellion demonstrated the refusal of citizens to be dominated by unfair government and laws.

“We do a bit of radical burning, like the diggers did at Bentley’s hotel,” Mr Dunstan said.

“Eureka has to become relevant to the day. When you think of Julian Assange or David Hicks, you think Eureka. It still stands for defending rights and liberties and solidarity.”

For Ballarat citizens, the events that took place 158 years ago at Eureka are part of the history of our city.

The Ballarat City Council has been marking the anniversary with a program of events conducted at the Eureka Centre since 2003. 

When it opens early next year the new-look $11 million Australian Centre for Democracy, funded by the City of Ballarat and state and federal governments, will make the Eureka Centre a national centre for democracy, learning and interpretation.

Meanwhile, the City of Ballarat has been working with state and federal education departments to align the Eureka story with school curriculums.

Ballarat school students will participate in a special program to commemorate the 158th anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion on Monday.