Piece of Eureka Flag returns to Ballarat

A QUEENSLAND man has responded to a campaign to find the missing parts of the Eureka flag, reuniting his family’s treasured fragment with the original 1854 banner.

Adrian Millane, from Nambour, came forward after reading about a campaign by the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) to find the missing pieces.

Barely bigger than a matchbox, the piece of cloth is in superb condition having spent much of its life attached to a century-old postcard of the Eureka monument.

It will be officially unveiled today at M.A.D.E in a celebration marking the 159th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade and remain on loan for two years. 

The piece has been handed down through the generations after first being given to Mr Millane’s great-grandfather Francis Hanlon by his cousin Peter Lalor.

Mr Millane said his family had strong connections to the Eureka story and the fragment had been held “with great respect and reverence”.

He said the authentication of the material as an original piece of the flag was a great moment for his family as it confirmed its connection to the Eureka story.

“It’s hard to have an intact history after 160 years. It adds a lot of weight to what we already knew, it’s exciting for us,” Mr Millane said. 

The fragment was recently given the tick of authenticity by Artlab Australia, which restored the original flag to its current state a couple of years ago.

Testing involved checking the fragment to see if it had the same fibre, dye, weave and thread count as the Eureka flag.

Artlab Australia textiles conservator Mary-Anne Gooden said the Prussian blue dye used on the material was a key indicator of authenticity.

“That’s an unusual dye, the presence of that definitively shows the Millane fragment is the same as the Eureka flag,” she said. 

M.A.D.E director Jane Smith said the museum was thrilled to be able to work with Mr Millane to confirm the family legend.

“It’s in wonderful condition, the great thing about Prussian blue is that it appears to be quite hardy in terms of dyes,” she said.

The historic 1854 flag is missing about a third of its original material after being souvenired before its initial restoration in 1973.

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

EUREKA DAY EVENTS

Effigy burning at Eureka Stockade Memorial: dawn

Breakfast ceremony at M.A.D.E:  8am

Free entry to M.A.D.E: 9am until 5pm

Eureka Day Awards, Bakery Hill: 9.30am

Eureka Lecture with Andrew Leigh at M.A.D.E: 6pm

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