Eureka Flag re-created for 160th anniversary

Descendants of Anastasia Withers,  Fiona Crawford and Val d'Angri. PHOTO: JEREMY BANNISTER

Descendants of Anastasia Withers, Fiona Crawford and Val d'Angri. PHOTO: JEREMY BANNISTER

STITCH by stitch a group of Ballarat women are tirelessly working to recreate the iconic Eureka Flag in time for the 160th anniversary of Eureka Rebellion.

Among them are two of the great, great granddaughters of Anastasia Withers, one of the three women believed to have created the original flag on the goldfields.

Val D’Angri is a needlecraft teacher and the first person to carry out conservation work on the original flag in 1973, which now takes pride of place on a wall inside the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.

Ms D’Angri has spent more than 150 hours working on the replica flag, which was officially launched at M.A.D.E on Friday.

“When I am sewing the replica flag, I can’t help but think of the work of my great, great grandmother and the strength of women from that time and feel humbled to be recreating a piece of history,” she said. 

“I cannot begin to imagine what these women might have experienced in their fight to be treated like citizens. They were the mothers of a nation.”

Ms D’Angri is joined by artist Fiona Crawford, who is also a descendant of Ms Withers and has spent the past two years researching women in the gold rush and celebrating her great, great grandmother’s legacy. 

“It’s just a fantastic opportunity to recreate such a pivotal part of history,” she said.

“The fabric is a piece of artistry and it sparks these extraordinary historical conversations between the women who are working together to recreate it.” 

In a tent in the middle of the goldfields in 1854, it is believed that Ms Withers, Anastasia Hayes and Anne Duke picked up sewing needles and created their call to revolution.

The flag of the Southern Cross was at the time seen as a symbol of revolution, feminism and a challenge to the Crown. 

Ms D’Angri and Ms Crawford will be joined by women from the Ballarat Branch – Embroiderers Guild and the Ballaarat Quilters Inc. 

M.A.D.E director Jane Smith said the purpose of the textile project was to give community members the opportunity to have hands-on experience in being a part of the historic process and the chance to understand the complexity of the design and construction that went into making the original flag. 

“Australians are fascinated by the Eureka flag,” Ms Smith said. “This reenactment will give us new information on how the original flag could have been made.”

People who stitch the new flag will have their names recorded and kept as a digital record for posterity.

“It’s just a fantastic opportunity to recreate such a pivotal part of history." - Anastasia Withers

A film is also being made of the process. 

The project is being supported by the Ballarat City Council and the state government. 

Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay said the flag was a symbol of a “nation growing, changing, challenging and desiring better”.

The new flag will be completed by December 3 to mark the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.

Stitching sessions will be held from 11am to 3pm on Saturday, July 5, and Sunday, July 6, at M.A.D.E. 

There will also be sessions from 11am to 3pm at the Mining Exchange at the Rug Up Winter Festival on July 12 and 13.

For bookings, call M.A.D.E on 1800 287 113.

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