Why Eureka?

For me the interest in the events in Ballarat between 1852 and 1854 is due primarily to the fact that this is where we start to see, for the first time, a divergence from the traditional European attitudes towards class and society and the beginning of a different way of thinking.

On the goldfields it didn’t matter what a person’s background was, all that mattered was how they conducted themselves among their fellows and that everyone was given a fair and even chance, the beginnings of the Australian notion of a fair go for all. This feeling eventually ran so deep that the diggers were willing to fight and to die for it.

It also marks the beginnings of a sense of being something other than displaced Europeans on the other side of their world. They still saw themselves as English, Irish, Scottish or other European races, but underlying it all they also started feeling a common bond, separate to their ethnicity. They may not have identified as being ‘Australians’ at that stage, but it was the beginning of a feeling of identity which over the following decades would eventually lead to Federation and the creation of the Australian nation. Eureka was the first indication of what Australians would eventually become.

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