Ballarat, Victoria Australia – Two Centuries of Historical and
How does one abridge two centuries of spectacular history into one,
brief article, when there are numerous books written on the very
subject? It will not be easy, but this writer hopes to achieve just
Ballaarat (as it was formerly spelled) is in the city of Victoria,
Australia. One of the largest of the country’s inland cities, today it
is known for keeping its heritage and history alive for those who reside
here as well as the visitors who come.
Way back in 1851, gold was discovered in an area about 5 kilometres
outside of Ballarat. It is estimated that more than 200,000 ounces of
gold were discovered in an area about one square mile in size. This
quickly made Ballarat the wealthiest city in the area. Other gold mines
were found which were equally important and the sudden influx of people
and money made Ballarat the largest township in Victoria.
As frequently happens when massive amounts of gold diggers, miners and
others start haphazardly setting up temporary housing and tents,
businesses also pop up In order to keep the people supplied. Not all of
the businesses where the types were welcomed either! It did not take
long before the gold miners and the government officials supervising the
mining were in dispute with one another.
By 1854, the grievances by the miners of excessive pricing of mining
items, ever rising licensing taxation (without benefit of
representation), the inability of the minors to purchase land and
problems with the government and the police that worked for the
government came to a head. The Eureka Stockade did not last long, but
has gone down in Australian history as the only armed civil uprising.
During the conflict, 35 people were seriously injured and an additional
22 people lost their lives.
Just because the uprising itself was violently and rapidly put down, the
Eureka Rebellion (as it is sometimes called) was the turning point in
Australian politics. Because of the Rebellion, voting rights were
changed for all of time. Although there are still controversies to this
day because of the gold rush, civil uprising and ultimate trials of
those labeled “Rebels”, it has forever been identified as the birth of
democracy in Australia.
In the later 50 years of the 19th century, Ballarat continued to prosper
because of the gold mines. In 1871, Ballarat officially became a city.
The transition from a small gold rush town into a thriving industrial
age city and then on to the engineering and manufacturing businesses
that thrived in the 20th century and is again transitioning into the
mature, economic centre it is today has been phenomenal. Today Ballarat
is known for its cultural heritage, the picturesque landscape, and the
Avenues of Honour, which honour all of those who fought and died for
There is so much more to the story. There are statues and monuments to
those who were slain from the Eureka Stockade, World War I and II, as
well as incredible parks and botanical gardens that are continual
reminders of the struggles and successes of the Ballarat people over the
last two centuries. It is a wonderful place to visit and much to learn
on any trip here.