Eureka Flag

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The original Eureka Flag

The Eureka Flag is a design which features: a dark blue field 260 x 400 cm (2:3.08 ratio); a horizontal stripe 37 cm wide and a vertical line crossing it of 36 cm wide; and 5 eight pointed stars, the central star being 65 cm tall (point to point) and the other stars 60 cm tall, representing the Crux Australis constellation.[1]

The design was first used for the war flag of the Eureka Rebellion (3 December 1854) at Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. A number of people swore allegiance to the flag as a symbol of defiance at its first flying at Bakery Hill on 29 November 1854. Over 22 miners were killed at the Eureka Stockade, along with six troopers and police. 125 miners were arrested and many others badly wounded.[2]

The flag has been loaned to Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka by the Art Gallery of Ballarat.[3]

The flag design has gained wider notability in Australian culture due to its adoption by radicals as a symbol of democracy, and general purpose symbol of protest,[4][5] mainly in relation to a variety of anti-establishment, non-conformist causes.[6] It is listed as an object of state heritage significance on the Victorian Heritage Register[7] and was named as a Victorian Icon by the National Trust in 2006.[8]

History[edit]

Origin and symbolism[edit]

The Flag is reputed to have been designed by a Canadian member of the Ballarat Reform League, Captain Henry Ross. Local legend claims that the Flag was sewn by three local women - Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and Anastasia Hayes.[2]

Ross was said to be inspired by the design of the Australian Federation Flag.[9]

According to Frank Cayley's book, Flag of Stars, the flag's five stars represent the Southern Cross, and the white cross joining the stars represents unity in defiance.[10]

The flag is silk, blue ground with large silver cross; no device or arms, but all exceedingly chaste and natural.


Oath swearing at Bakery Hill[edit]

It flew for the first (recorded) occasion on Bakery Hill as a symbol of the resistance of the gold miners during the Eureka Stockade rebellion in the year 1854. Beneath this flag, Peter Lalor, leader of the Ballarat Reform League, swore this oath to the affirmation of his fellow demonstrators: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties."

According to the Ballarat Times, which first mentioned the flag a week earlier on 24 November 1854, at "about eleven o'clock the 'Southern Cross' was hoisted, and its maiden appearance was a fascinating object to behold."


Post-battle preservation of Eureka flag[edit]

Trooper John King retained the flag and it was held by his family for forty years until it was lent to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery in 1895, where it remained in continued obscurity "under a cloud of skepticism and conservative disapproval"; bits of the flag were cut off and given to visiting dignitaries.[11] Approximately 31% of the original specimen is missing.

The flag was "re-discovered" by Len Fox during the 1940s,[12] but it took decades to convince authorities to properly authenticate the flag.[citation needed] it was found after World War II in a drawer at the gallery, discovered by members of the Australian Communist Party.[11] The final irrefutable validation of its authentication occurred when sketchbooks of Canadian Charles Doudiet were put up for sale at a Christies auction in 1996. Two sketches in particular show the flag design as contained in the tattered remains of the flag at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. The remnant of the original Eureka Flag remains today, preserved for public display at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. In 2001, legal ownership of the flag was transferred to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, which expects the King family and the gallery to be acknowledged every time a replica of the original flag is displayed. It is listed as an object of state heritage significance on the Victorian Heritage Register and was named as an icon by the National Trust in 2006.[13]

The restored original Eureka Flag (December 2011)

Contemporary meaning, notability, and controversy[edit]

Since the original miners revolt at Eureka, the flag, born out of adversity, continues to be regarded by some as a symbol of nationalism closely associated with this struggle for democracy and unity.

In the event the design of the Australian National Flag is ever reviewed some republicans support the Eureka Flag being one of the options in a plebiscite.

Whilst some Australians view the Eureka Flag as a symbol of nationality[14] (see Australian flag debate), it is more often employed by historical societies and re-enactors and by political radicals as a general purpose symbol of protest for a wide variety of anti-establishment non-conformist causes. The flag has been used as a symbol of rebellion by groups on both sides of the political spectrum, such as noted nationalistic group National Action and neo-Nazis,[15] who see it as representative of the efforts of the miners to free themselves from what they view, depending on their political persuasion, as either political or economic oppression, and by white supremacists at flashpoints for racial confrontation. Along these lines, some also believe that the flag used during the Lambing Flat riots was a derivative of the Eureka Flag.

During a 1983 royal tour, a republican supporter informally presented a small Eureka flag to Diana, Princess of Wales, who did not recognize it. The event prompted a cartoon of the royal couple with Charles, Prince of Wales observing "Mummy will not be pleased."[16]

In 2013 a theory was put forward that a Union Jack, known as Eureka Jack may also have flown at the Eureka Stockade. Research undertaken for the Art Gallery of Ballarat, custodians of the Eureka Flag, failed to locate hard evidence for this theory. In his 2012 book Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution, Peter FitzSimons states:

"In my opinion, this report of the Union Jack being on the same flagpole as the flag of the Southern Cross is not credible. There is no independent corroborating report in any other newspaper, letter, diary or book, and one would have expected Raffaello Carboni, for one, to have mentioned it had that been the case. The paintings of the flag ceremony and battle by Charles Doudiet, who was in Ballarat at the time, depicts no Union Jack. During the trial for High Treason, the flying of the Southern Cross was an enormous issue, yet no mention was ever made of the Union Jack flying beneath."

Usage[edit]

Post Eureka[edit]

A modern variation was central to the landmark architecture of the Eureka Centre prior to its redevelopment as the Museum of Australian Democracy.
ALP policy launch before a huge crowd in the Sydney Domain on 24 November 1975. Eureka flags can be seen in the crowd and on tribune

A similar flag was flown prominently above the Barcaldine strike camp of the 1891 Australian shearers' strike,[citation needed] and thus has had a strong association with the Australian labour movement from this time.[citation needed] Construction unions such as the Builders Labourers' Federation in particular adopted the Eureka flag, and it is one of the flags that flies permanently over the Melbourne Trades Hall.

The Eureka flag was also used by supporters of Gough Whitlam after he was dismissed as Prime Minister.

NSW Parliament Building, Macquarie Street, Sydney, 3 December 2004

The sesquicentenary of the Eureka Stockade occurred in December 2004, and the Eureka Flag was used extensively during the events that were organised to promote awareness of the occasion. It was flown within each State Parliament building in Australia, the Federal Senate, and most prominently atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson made the Eureka flag a federal election campaign issue in 2004 saying "I think people have tried to make too much of the Eureka Stockade... trying to give it a credibility and standing that it probably doesn't enjoy."[17]

The men and women of HMAS Ballarat, the second Royal Australian Navy ship to bear the name, wear Eureka Flag insignia on their uniforms.[18]

Specifications[edit]

The dimensions of the Eureka flag are 260 cm × 400 cm (100 in × 160 in) (2:3.08 ratio). The horizontal cross is 37 cm wide and the vertical cross 36 cm wide. The central star is slightly larger than the others and is 65 cm tall (point to point) and the other stars 60 cm tall.

Standardised design[edit]

Standardised design

The modern design of the Eureka flag is an enhanced and different version from the 1854 original with blue key lines around each of five equal stars. It is frequently made in the proportions of 20:13. Although the flag is designed as a representation of the Southern Cross, a constellation located in southern skies and thus only visible to viewers in the southern hemisphere, the stars are arranged differently from the arrangement of stars in the constellation itself. The "middle" star (Epsilon Crucis) in the constellation is off-centre, and near to the edge of the "diamond", while the Eureka flag shows it in the centre. The Eureka flag is only a stylised version of the more widely known pattern.

Derivatives and popular culture[edit]

During the Lambing Flat riots in 1861, a series of violent anti-Chinese demonstrations that took place in the Burrangong region, in New South Wales, Australia, on the goldfields at Spring Creek, Stoney Creek, Back Creek, Wombat, Blackguard Gully, Tipperary Gully, and Lambing Flat (now Young, New South Wales), the Lambing Flat Banner was painted on a tent-flap, now on display at the Lambing Flat museum, bearing a Southern Cross superimposed over a St. Andrew's Cross with the inscription, 'Roll Up – No Chinese'; the banner has been claimed by some as a variant of the Eureka Flag, which served as an advertisement for a public meeting that presaged the Lambing Flat riots.

Today the Eureka Flag has been adopted by a variety of groups, including the Builders Labourers Federation and the Australia First Party. The City of Ballarat and University of Ballarat, for instance have used stylised versions of the 'Southern Cross' in their official logo along with several trade unions and other associated groups.

Sporting clubs have also used the flag as a symbol including the Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Rebels. Melbourne Victory supporters adopted it as a club flag for its foundation year in 2004, however it was subsequently briefly banned[19] at A-League games by the Football Federation of Australia, but rescinded in the face of criticism from the Victorian general public. The Football Federation of Australia claimed that the ban was 'unintentional'.

A Red Eureka Flag was used by communists during the late 1970s early 1980s.As the design was little seen and the group using it was on fringe of the communist movement the Red Eureka flag soon disappeared from view. The Red Eureka flag has since been adopted by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. The AMWU, however, has no links to communism and is instead affiliated with the Australian Labor Party.

Vintage star spangled Eureka flag[edit]

According to the eminent Dr Whitney Smith writing in 1975, the Eureka flag “perhaps because of its association with labor riots and a time of political crisis in Australian history, was long forgotten. A century after it was first hoisted, however, Australian authors began to recognise that it had been an inspiration, both in spirit and design, for many banners up to and including the current official civil and state flags of the nation.” [20]

With respect to the provenance of the star spangled Eureka flag, Withers published in the Ballarat Star on 1 May 1896 an article which contained a quote from John McNeil, who recalled a meeting on Bakery Hill where one Robert McCandlish “unbuttoned his coat and took out an unfurled a light blue flag with some stars on it, but there was no cross on it”. [21]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b "The flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag)". Art Gallery of Ballarat. Retrieved March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Eureka Flag". Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. Retrieved March 2014. 
  4. ^ Huxley, John Eureka? An answer to that Jack in the corner gets a little bit warmer Sydney Morning Herald. 26 January 2011
  5. ^ Thousands march for Labour Day across Queensland Australian Broadcasting Commission. 3 May 2011
  6. ^ http://www.flagsociety.org.au/historical_flags.pdf
  7. ^ "Eureka Flag, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H2097". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  8. ^ "2006 Icons | National Trust of Australia (Victoria)". Nattrust.com.au. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  9. ^ "Flag History – Other Australian Flags – Eureka Flag". Australianflag.com.au. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  10. ^ Eureka flag history
  11. ^ a b "Reclaiming the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion and Eureka Stockade of 1854". Takver.com. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  12. ^ Walshe, R. D He Found and Raised Eureka's Trampled Flag: a Tribute to Len Fox
  13. ^ National Trust, First Victorian Icons Named
  14. ^ "Our Own Flag". Ausflag. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  15. ^ Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2006. Australian Flags. Australian Government Publishing Service ISBN 0-642-47134-7.
  16. ^ "Royal visit of William and Kate recalls Diana's Eureka moment". Sydney Morning Herald. 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ [3][dead link]
  19. ^ Ham, Larissa (27 October 2008). "Soccer bosses flag end to Eureka moments". The Age (Melbourne). 
  20. ^ Whitney Smith, Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead, 1975) 78.
  21. ^ William Withers, 'The Eureka Stockade Flag', The Ballarat Star, 1 May 1896, 1.

External links[edit]