Eureka Flag

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The flag design features a dark blue field and a cross with eight pointed stars, representing the Crux Australis star constellation.

The Eureka Flag was the battle flag used at the Eureka Stockade in 1854. The design was first used in Australia as the war flag of the Eureka Rebellion against British colonial rule. The uprising was crushed, but mass public support for captured rebels contributed to suffrage for colonists in Australia. As such, Eureka Flag has later been used by various organizations, such as the Australia First Party.


The Eureka Flag was flown for the first time on Bakery Hill, Ballarat, Australia as a symbol of the resistance of the gold miners during the Eureka Stockade rebellion in 1854. Beneath this flag, Peter Lalor, leader of the Ballarat Reform League, swore this oath to the affirmation of his fellow demonstators: "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, at "about eleven o'clock the 'Southern Cross' was hoisted, and its maiden appearance was a fascinating object to behold. The flag is silk, blue ground with large silver cross; no device or arms, but all exceedingly chaste and natural."

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. The design of the flag was taken by Captain Henry Ross, one of Eureka's miners and a Canadian expatriate, to three women, Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and Elizabeth Hayes, to sew up in time for a large rally at Bakery Hill, at 2.00pm on 29 November 1854. There is no evidence on who exactly designed the flag, although Ross was known on the diggings as the 'bridegroom' of the miners flag. The flag looks similar to the Federation Flag, on which it was based according to some historians.

During the battle of the Eureka Stockade on December 3, 1854, Henry Ross was mortally wounded near the flagpole and the Eureka flag was torn down, trampled, hacked with sabres and peppered with bullets. It ended up in the possession of Trooper John King, and the King family kept the flag for forty years, until it was loaned to the Ballarat Art Gallery in 1895, where it remained in continued obscurity "under a cloud of scepticism and conservative disapproval". The flag was "re-discovered" by Len Fox during the 1930s, but it took decades to convince authorities to properly authenticate the flag. 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 in Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, along with Doudiet's sketches.

In 2001, legal ownership of the flag was transferred to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery who expect the King's family and the gallery to be acknowledged every time a replica of the original flag is displayed.

The Eureka Flag is used by a variety of groups. The University of Ballarat, for instance, uses a stylised version of the 'Southern Cross' as its official logo. It is also the logo of the Patriotic Youth League (PYL), a youth organization in Australia whose members describe themselves as 'radical nationalists'.

The flag was flown prominently above the Barcaldine strike camp of the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, and thus has had a strong association with the Australian labour movement from this time. 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.

In the event the design of the Flag of Australia is ever reviewed some Australian republicans have suggested the Eureka Flag design be among the alternatives offered to the electorate in a plebiscite. Whilst a certain type of Australian not in the majority views the Eureka Flag as a symbol of nationality, 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 communists, 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.

The flag is also been adopted by the Melbourne Victory fan group, the Blue and White Brigade (aka BWB). The modern design of the Eureka flag is an enhanced and different version from the 1854 original. There has been a move to standardise the flag which involves the creation of a small blue fimbriation around the stars. It is frequently made in the proportions of 2:1. 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 to 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.