For a month in 1855, 13 men stood on trial for their lives in Melbourne, charged with 'high treason'.
The men were the sole accused and charged of the 120 arrested following the Eureka rebellion in December 1854.
Defended by a team of counsel led by the Irish-born Richard Ireland, seven of the 13 were Irish-born. The remainder were African-American, Jamaican, Italian, a Scottish Jew, a Dutchman and one Australian born in Sydney.
The charges they faced were, even in the legal jargon of the time, quite overwhelming. This is just the first count, one of four levelled against them:
Be it remembered that William Foster Stawell Esq. Attorney General of our Sovereign Lady the Queen for the Colony of Victoria informs the Supreme Court of General Gaol Delivery now holden here on the fifteenth day of January in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty-five at Melbourne in the Colony aforesaid that Timothy Hayes Charles Raphelo John Manning John Joseph Jan Vennik James Beattie Henry Reed Michael Tuohy James Macfie Campbell William Molloy Jacob Soranson Thomas Dignum and John Phelan on the third day of December in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty-four together with divers other false traitors to the said Attorney General unknown armed and arrayed in a warlike manner that is to say with guns muskets blunderbusses pistols swords bayonets pikes and other weapons being then unlawfully maliciously and traitorously assembled and gathered together against our Lady the Queen most wickedly maliciously and traitorously did levy and make war against our said Lady the Queen within that part of her dominions called Victoria and did then maliciously and traitorously attempt and endeavour by force of arms to subvert and destroy the Constitution and Government of the said part of her dominions as by law established and deprive and depose our said Lady the Queen of and from the style honor and kingly name of the imperial crown of the said part of her dominions in contempt of our said Lady the Queen and her laws to the evil example of all others in the like case offending contrary to the duty of the allegiance of them the said Timothy Hayes Charles Raphelo John Manning John Joseph Jan Vennik James Beattie Henry Reed Michael Tuohy James Macfie Campbell William. Molloy Jacob Soranson Thomas Dignam and John Phelan against the form of the statute in such case made and provided and against the peace of our Lady the Queen her crown and dignity.
Almost immediately the trial descended into argument about whether a defendant could be called upon to enter a plea, with the accused miner Timothy Hayes relying on a defence from the statutes of Henry V, almost 500 years earlier.
It was dismissed, and Hayes was remanded.
The charge of high treason - the first heard in the newly-constituted Supreme Court of Victoria - carried the possibility of the death penalty if the accused were found guilty of having committed an armed insurrection against the Crown and government.
In reality the charges were always going to be difficult to prove. The Attorney-General for the colony, William Stawell, heard the charge of treason against John Joseph first.
An African American, Joseph was accused of (although not charged with, as it was not a murder trial) being the rioter who fired the shot which eventually killed Captain Henry Wise of the 40th Foot early in the melee. A series of witnesses attested to this fact; despite, as the defence countered, Captain wise being found with two separate wounds, either of which may have killed him.
Joseph's co-counsel argued, in terms that would be found offensive today, there was no way of identifying if the accused was indeed the person who shot Captain Wise.
"I would no more know one black man from another than any one, except its mother would know one baby from another, or anybody except a squatter would know one sheep from another; there are plenty of black men on the Gold Fields, and it is almost impossible for anybody but a slaveholder to know a negro from his fellow," said lawyer Butler Aspinall.
Troubling as the argument was (and Aspinall went further), it was persuasive. The jury acquitted Joseph, and in quick succession his co-accused as they were tried.
Great cheers were heard in the streets of Melbourne as the verdicts came in; two watchers in the public gallery were charged with contempt by the Chief Justice for their behaviour when John Joseph was acquitted. Joseph himself was chaired through the city's streets as he walked free.
Moving forward to today: would a riot on the same scale in the early 21st Century bring the same seriousness of charge? Would the accused be acquitted, or would they be more likely to face conviction?
Barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside thinks it's more likely demonstrators such as Extinction Rebellion would be convicted in the current political climate.
He suggests anyone taking the same course of direct action in our time would face terrorism charges.
"Whether you would get acquittals, with applause in court, is another question," Mr Burnside says.
"I suspect they would be convicted."
So what has changed in the intervening 165 years that might alter the political perspective?
"A seriously good question. It's never ceased to amaze me, the irony that we hold up the Eureka Stockade as one of our great national legends, yet we are absolutely terrified of the idea of terrorism. What they did was undoubtedly a terrorist act."
"I think the media have a lot to answer for because it's a reflection of public attitudes and the media have an important role in shaping that."
Mr Burnside says it's likely people charged today as the Eureka accused were would be in jail for a year or more before facing court.
"They would very likely be sentenced to many years in jail. The underlying problem is the government, for its own reasons, sets the agenda; and the press which support the government encourage people to adopt the same views.
""Why are people now being treated as terrorists because they express their concerns about the future of human life on the planet?"