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|News from Downunder 2004 - part 4
Canberra, Snowy Mountains and Victoria
The last part left us leaving Parramatta and Sydney - we now take up the story again at Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Many say Canberra is the best landscaped city in the world - it certainly had the opportunity as it was designed from scratch on a green-field site to be a showpiece capital city by the Architect Burley Griffin whose name lives on in Lake Burley Griffin, the vast artificial lake forming a centrepiece to the city. The whole design is very open and green with over 12 million trees planted so far - it is very much like a grown up Milton Keynes with the addition of huge stately government buildings. The Ministry of Finance and Administration had the best, as always.
To understand Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory which surrounds it you have to understand a little of Australian history and the political system and tautologically a visit to Canberra is perhaps the best way to gain the information.. Australia grew up as a number of independent self governing states under Great Britain. In 1901 five states, immediately followed by the sixth, federated and came together as one Nation, the Commonwealth of Australia to which is now added the Northern Territories. This was a two sided activity with agreements needed between the various states and also a formal Act in the UK Parliament. There was considerable active discussion as to which city should become the overall capital which was finally decided by the creation of the concept of a new capital city and the separation of a small parcel of land - the Australian Capital Territory - in which it would be built sited between Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra, as a name, came later and is derived from an Aboriginal word loosely translating as Meeting Place. This all took time and construction did not start until 1913 and Parliament finally moved in 1927.
Canberra is a very spread out but the general principle was a city based around a large lake with a parliamentary triangle consisting of Parliament House, the High Court and other important public buildings. The original parliament buildings opened in 1927 were designed to hold hundreds of people but the numbers quickly rose to the point where they were holding about 3000. This has led to a new Parliament Building being built on, or perhaps more accurately into Capital Hill, a local highpoint. Other major national facilities and attractions have moved to or been created in Canberra, the most recent of which is the Australian National Museum. Others include the National Archives, the National Mint, the National Library, Qestacon (the National Science and Technology Centre), the National Botanic gardens, the National Portrait gallery and the National Gallery of Australia. There are also many embassies and the National University all of which build the population up to around 300,000. The places worthy of visiting are well spread out and use of the car is an imperative, fortunately there is plenty of parking for 2 - 4 hours which is free and close to each place.
Everyone we spoke to told us we would be wasting our time visiting Canberra, so we did not allow much time on our schedule so we had to be selective. Looking back, we are very glad we did spend a full day in Canberra with a night at either end and we could have spent longer.
On arrival we had a quick drive around the lake and main buildings after checking into Canberra Motor Village - the most expensive camping yet. Accommodations, or more precisely caravan parks, are not set up for the likes of us and extortionately expensive. On arrival we were offered a cabin but were warned that the nearby cabins would have over 200 kids staying, so we would find camping more peaceful ! Camping was cheaper too, although we paid nearly twice the average elsewhere in Australia. If we had also had a tent then we would have paid almost half the price. Our drive-through powered plot had lots of birds including inquisitive and talkative magpies, ravens and huge noisy white with yellow underside parrots and smaller red and green parrots. Still quieter than the children !
We met some of the kids while we were out travelling and they were well contained and controlled. They all left by bus early in the morning, did the sights, and then returned late afternoon. We met groups of them in the museums and parliament building. We put our priorities for this first visit on the parliamentary side and the development of Australia , basically the unique areas which we could best get a national/overview in Canberra - we had already found the individual States to be very parochial in approach and, for example, information offices would hardly admit other States existed! As an aside we have generally been under-impressed by the Visitor Information Network of Information Offices and Canberra was no exception. It is also almost impossible to get prices of anything in advance without a guide such as Lonely Planets.
Our first visit was to the Australian National Museum. It is a startling building and is just 3 years old. The displays were thought provoking and well done, within the 3 main themes of Land, People and Nation. It looks at what made Australia different to the discoverers and first settlers, what has been and is unique about the land and the many races that have come together and how it has developed as a Nation in their eyes. It brought together a number of the pieces we had found missing or had failed to understand and our visit was at a very appropriate time to help develop our picture and understanding of Australia. Odd things stick in my mind including the exhibits on the importance of fire, the special trucks for catching buffalo and of course some of the exhibits on the very unique animals, birds and plants. The outdoor Garden of Australian Dreams, which represents the far north of the Country, was very interesting and we only started to understand its significance on a number of planes when explained by one of the staff. Overall you should see most of the museum and seem to obtain much of the benefit in 3-4 hours yet we suspect that one would still gain from a return after a period of time because of its thought provoking nature.
It was some distance then to Old Parliament House, which now also houses part of the National Portrait Gallery. The building is famous for its superb rose gardens but we spent several hours wandering around the inside, and looking at the rooms and chambers which were used by Government until recently. The Senate was on the one side of the building and the House of Representatives on the other. Some of the rooms still had original books, for example, copies of Hansard and real paper files from the 50s. There were a number of exhibits in the rooms including one we found interesting on the role seen for the civil service in Australia at that time - very different to that currently seen in the UK; we have a quote to add when we find it in our pictures. There are also special exhibitions, the current one was about the Petrov Affair, a Russian defector to Australia at about the same time as Burgess and MacLean.
We continued to the New Parliament building, arriving just after 1430 to find our entry was blocked by police and artillery - it was the State Opening of Parliament. After spending some time circling the underground car park looking for a space, we got inside just in time to see the lady Black Rod calling the members of the House of Representative's (our Commons) to join the Senate for the Governor General's speech. We could see many similarities yet many differences between their system and ours. On display was a copy of the 1297 Magna Carta. The building is in itself very interesting in its design, modern yet tasteful, mixing local woods with the most beautiful marbles from round the world. It is built into the hillside so it is possible to walk over the grassed roofs of the houses in session keeping the politicians in their place below the people. The entire building is designed for public access to watch government at work - we were told the model being that of the Theatre in the Round. Many a true word ..... As we left at the apparent end of the formal proceedings a brass band began playing and everyone sang the Australian national anthem, led by the Governor General and leading politicians.
By now most public buildings were closed, so we settled on a drive up to the Telstra tower on Black Mountain. We had to pay to go up the tower, but views from the top were exceptional and further showed the cohesive design of the city viewed from above. Looking back we were fortunate in our choices of the three main areas we saw and in the order of the visits. There is much more to see but the reason to visit Canberra is to see and gain insights into the National Political side of Australia and other areas unique to Australia as seen from a National viewpoint - one can, for example, see good art galleries and even shops in many places in Australia and in the world so they have to be a lower priority unless they are of a particular personal interest.
Deciding against another BBQ, we stopped at the Vietnamese Restaurant in the nearby O'Connor shopping precinct. The service was quick and it seemed popular with the locals. It was also BYO but we only drank water as were driving and returned to our site for a glass of wine and some cheese
Next day, we were off towards the Snowy Mountains National park - the Snowy Mountains cover an area about 80 kms by 160 kms and form part of the Dividing Ranges. The Snowy Mountain area was opened up and shaped by the Snowy Hydroelectric scheme. It was one of the biggest in the world, arguably the greatest engineering work at that time, and still rates as one of the 7 greatest Civil Engineering works. There are 16 dams, 7 hydro stations and 11% of Australia's power comes from this renewable source. A side effect is that it formed some beautiful lakes and had opened up the area with a large number of access roads and small villages which remain from the work camps yet seems to have left few permanent scars. It was a 25 year project employing 100,000 workers, many immigrants, started at a time when policy was to encourage immigration just after WWII.
We stopped at Jindabyne to seek information and looked round the displays in the comprehensive visitor centre. We confirmed that entry to the National Park required a pass so we bought a one day 24 hour pass on our way in at a pay booth just short of Threadbo. Threadbo is an alpine village set up for skiing and walking. Only one chairlift was operating, the rest being closed for maintenance or because it was summer. We decided to invest $24 which took us to just under 1900 metres in the 15 minute ride in an open seat and walked up the nature trail to the restaurant and bar at 1930m - as with everything in Australia it was the greatest: in this case the highest bar in Australia! We then did a 2 km walk taking us over 2000 metres to one of the viewpoints into the mountains which allowed a good view of Mt Kosciuszko, the highest mountain at 2228 metres in Australia after which the park is named. It was an interesting track as it has been entirely covered with a steel mesh walkway to preserve the environment. One stretch was however still covered in snow - we made it across the 100 metres of soft snow in sandals and were glad we were not wearing socks. The eventual view was well worth the cold feet.
Having paid the 24 hour entry, overnight camping was free. We stopped at the Tom Groggin camp site - with Kangaroos watching us from only a few metres away. We cooked over a wood fire in one of the steel fireplaces which have flap down cooking plates. Rather inappropriately we had brought kangaroo steaks and we fried Sweet Potatoes to go with them and sat and ate them at a picnic table illuminated by our oil lamp. It was the highlight of the holiday. In the morning as we drank our coffee the Roos returned, this time with several Joeys in their pouches and one pair licked the BBQ clean - little did they know.
We continued around the Alpine Way, stopping briefly to look at the next camping ground on the site of the old town of Geehi. Here the facilities were even better with nicely laid out bays for camping, each with a fireplace, but there were more people and less Roos so we were glad we had stopped where we did We continued with a series of steep climbs and descents rarely getting out of third gear as we cut across the grain of this rugged landscape with mountains topped with snow. One memorable lookout was Scammell's Spur Lookout where one could see down to Geehi, nestling in a valley and many of the steep river valleys we had crossed - we could see why it was taking so long. We passed huge lakes and crossed dams, passed power stations well hidden in the hillsides, some are underground and linked by tens of kilometres of enormous tunnels. We stopped at another lookout made for the Queen's visit to view the hydro scheme during its construction and continued down a road with steep cuttings of loose rocks held back by enormous sheets of wire netting. We stopped at Cabramurra, a surveying town moved bodily to a new site just below the old one and again there was a good viewpoint over the town and mountains.
At our join with the Snowy Mountain Highway was a place we had marked to visit - Kiandra. As with everywhere it was notable, this time for the shortest Goldrush in Australia, it also claims to have been the home of Australian skiing. There is very little left of the town, there are no inhabited buildings and all that remains is a heritage walk over what looks like an empty field and a good display of mining equipment and explanatory boards which we found on the entry road in as one drops down from 3 Mile Dam.
The first short gold rush took place in 1860 and the numbers built up to about 5000 within a few months. Before winter set in and the government, looking ahead, decided that that the numbers would grow to 45,000 within in a year. Unfortunately the hard winter and the fact that the surface alluvial gold was quickly exhausted meant that almost everybody left for a new and better field nearby at the time the services appeared for a town of forty thousand. Soon only a few Chinese miners remained working over the deposits too small to have been exploited. The hardships during the main rush are described in graphic detail in Preshaw's classic book, "Banking Under Difficulties" which we bought in New Zealand. In fact operations did continue with miners returning at various times, quartz deposits were found but not worked economically but deep alluvial deposits were worked by the first use of hydraulic sluicing in Australia. There are some good pictures of the sluicing where the exhibits have been located including one of sluicing taking place in deep snow. If one looks up above the exhibit site the hillside has obviously been heavily sluiced and washed away with the waters brought from Three Mile Dam.
The Snowy Mountain highway was a much flatter and faster road - somewhat disappointing after the terrain we had been crossing although there was still some good scenery. We stopped to look at the series of camp sites by Blowerin Reservoir, all could make a pleasant stop although the reservoir was very empty and the waters edge in the far distance. We had lunch at one of the sites on a picnic table amidst fields of blue flowers with emus in the distance and kangaroos watching from the nearby bushes.
We stayed overnight at the All Season Holiday Park on the edge of Albury, our first example of the Family Parks of Australia (FPA) Holiday Park chain - we have been favourably impressed and picked up details of their other locations. We do not have any reciprocal discounts but we understand they are looking at opening up in the New Zealand market and will watch with interest. Temperatures had risen to the thirties and we were glad of the swimming pool before the inevitable BBQ. There was very heavy rain overnight and there was still thunder and lightening at 1000 when we left.
We decided to follow the North bank of the Murray River, on the New South Wales side, initially as it looked more interesting and the road looked closer to the river although that meant we sacrificed going through the Riverton Winery area - we already have as much wine as we can sensibly drink before we fly back to the UK! It turned out to be a good decision as we passed the most incredible sight - Lake Mulwala which stretched almost as far as the eye could see with a dead forest of old white trunks sticking up above the water. We walked to the edge and the banks and stumps were alive with chattering white parrots and Ibises. We turned off the road we were on through Mulwala where there were many caravan parks and other accommodation on the lake side and a series of boat ramps - serious tourist territory in the summer.
We crossed a latticework bridge into Victoria, again there was no customs post just a warning to not carry fruit, and stopped at the information office at Yarrawonda to find out what we had been seeing in Lake Mulwala. It turned out to be the most helpful Visitor Centre we have visited so far. We were shown old pictures of how the lake came about, told about local camping opportunities and fishing in the area as well as being able to collect all the information we needed to plan our time in Victoria. We even had some of the things we had not full understood about New South Wales explained. As well as information for our immediate needs, we gathered up information for future trips and to backfill some omissions in our write up to date.
To get back to the strange tree filled lake - it came about because it was decided in 1934 to build a weir and create an artificial lake for irrigation purposes: storing and providing the head of water required for distribution. It was a major project employing 400 people for 5 years and was due to open in 1939. The plan had been to cut down all the trees but it filled faster than expected and only a few had been cut down leaving the strange dead forest we saw. The other notable event was the opening - it was delayed by the outbreak of war and the official opening was delayed until 1989 when it opened exactly 50 years late to the day giving it the fame of being the latest official opening in Australia of a weir!
We then drove virtually straight through to our next planned stop at Echuca, a historic centre for the steam paddle wheelers on the Murray River. Some of the original wharf is in use and there are quite a number of steam paddle wheelers operating, some original and going back to 1866. Our caravan park was alongside the Murray River and right next to the wharf so we had a quick look round late in the afternoon and ascertained that that operations started as early as 0930 and decided to go back for an early trip.
The Port of Echuca was the largest of the inland ports on the Murray and Darling River system serving the central Riverine region of Australia. The major products of the region were wool and timber which was brought to Echuca by a fleet of Steam Paddlewheel Riverboats where it was transhipped to rail when the railhead to Melbourne reached Echuca in 1864. There were up to 120 steamers operating on the Murray River, Darling River and Murrumbidgee system at the peak. The Murray River itself is navigable for close to 2000 kms from near Adelaide to Albury - almost as much as the inland waterways network in the UK before the other rivers are taken into account. The Port of Echuca was largely responsible for the opening up of the inland farming areas of New South Wales and Victoria. The river varies considerably between drought and flood and the wharf has three levels to cover the variations - it is not considered a flood until it is up to the top of the handrails on the second level, a rise of over 30 feet.
The fleet of steam boats must have been one of the largest in the world and were almost universally paddle wheelers with a shallow draught, broad beam and overhanging decks to increase the load capacity and very strong almost vertical stem posts. Many seem to have been driven by Marshal or similar 'mobile' steam engines - the sort of 10-20 horse power engines which were towed from place to place to power farm equipment and anything which needed steam power. The engines and boiler were integral and they were all wood fired using the local red gum timber. The trade and numbers of steamers peaked in the 1870s and the wharf was extended in length a number of times until at one point it was 750 metres long. Much of the wharf is still intact and there are currently 7 steam paddle wheelers operating tourist trips from the wharf area as well as many other privately owned paddle-steamers of all shapes and sizes. The oldest is the 1866 PS Adelaide, that now has the honour of being the oldest wooden paddlesteamer left in the world. The last steamer built for the riverboat trade in 1923, the PS Alexander Arbuthnot is also moored at the wharf.
We had an hour long trip on the PS Pevensey, built in 1911 and extensively restored after being burnt down to the waterline - the restoration was completed about 20 years ago and she starred as the Phildelphia in the international series 'All the Rivers Run'. It was an excellent trip with a friendly and informative crew, the skipper first worked the Pevensey in 1963 when she was brought back up river to Echuca - he insisted that Pete took the wheel when he knew we had a boat. It quickly became obvious why the wheel was about 8 feet in diameter and low geared - she was very heavy to steer with a huge rudder 6 inches thick at one end. We then spent a long time looking round the port area which included a steam saw mill and a number of unusually good collections of museum exhibits, steam displays and restoration areas. By the time we had crawled all over the steam boats moored at the wharf (no H&S concerns at Echuca!) it was well gone midday. We also discovered a second hand bookshop which has increased our luggage problems as we bought not only a book on Gold we had been looking for and a collection of Banjo Patterson's works including the classic 'Man from Snowy River' and 'Waltzing Matilda' but also a book on Opals which had quite a lot about the Andamooka Opal.
We left rather latter than intended for the Goldfields stopping at Bendigo for the night - we had a trip down the Central Deborah Gold Mine just before they shut for the evening. We spent about an hour underground and saw much the same as we had in Broken Hill but with the addition of some of the newer techniques used to mesh and pin the faces with long split tubes hammered into holes in the rocks. The mine opened in 1939 and was one of the few that continued through the war - it is not active for mining at present but is used for TAFE courses for certification of new miners before they can start work.
We descended using a modern type lift to the second level at 60 metres but the cages are still in operation giving access to lower levels - in operation it had 15 levels. In the morning we returned and spent time round their static exhibits, museum and information boards which occupied another hour or more. A firm has now gained the mining rights to a huge area and has produced a comprehensive 3D map of all the old workings from drawings, surveys and board room minutes and has set up ramp access and will use modern methods to re-mine the whole area.
We continued South to Maldon where we gathered up an information booklet which allowed us to go round much of the of the Mount Alexander Diggings heritage trails round Maldon and Castlemaine. In early November 1851, the first gold was found in Victoria in the Mount Alexander area and within a few months tens of thousands of people had flocked from the far ends of the earth to the area known as "the bank till free to all"; the richest shallow alluvial gold findings the world would ever see. The whole area delivered incredibly rich rewards and shows the scars and artefacts of the various stages of workings to this day. Everybody abandoned Melbourne to come to the fields, ships were left unable to proceed, even the Police deserted and came to the fields.
Visits that stood out as well as Forest Creek (bit touristy now, only pictures we have seen of puddling, good example of hydraulic sluicing, 200 hp producer gas engine and plant), where it all started included the Dredge at Porcupine Flat (best condition dredge we have seen, pre-clearing crane also on site, operated for 30 years and finished in 1982), The Beehive Mine at Maldon (interpreted walk, many remains of structures including cyanide vats), the North British Mine (unusual quartz roasting ovens), the Maldon State battery (almost intact assay battery but entry by arrangement), and the Duke of Cornwall Engine House (British investment, mine a failure although nearby mines rich, private so no approach). All free to visit although some had options of guided tours of additional areas but only by arrangement.
We had hoped to camp at the Vaughan Mineral Springs, a pleasant picnic spot with several mineral springs by the side of the Loddon River, but the camping ground was padlocked so we continued to Daylesford where there was a choice of commercial parks. Our first choice offered very basic facilities near to a lake with queueing for the only BBQs which were in a public parking area, so we moved to the other FPA site. The weather was turning colder so we decided to rent a nice cabin with TV, heater, cooker etc instead of shivering on a tent site. We caught up on the news which concentrated on Palestine, then were glad of our cabin with the overnight bitter wind.
We again moved in a Southerly direction but stopped first in town at the Information Centre as we were becoming confused by all the claims to be first to discover gold etc - we spent a long time speaking to Warren who confirmed that the first Gold found in Australia of significance and in an area that was subsequently worked was at Ophir in New South Wales. The first Gold found in Victoria and the find that won the reward from the Victoria Government was at Clunes although the first 'Rush' and large find was at was at Forest Creek at Castlemaine. He also explained that there was no advertising standards or other checks on the accuracy of claims - we were not surprised.
We also asked about possibilities to get the pictures from our Camera Cards onto a backup CD in case the Laptop fell over. We ended up going to the local 'Neigbourhood House' - they are a concept we had not come across before. They were conceived to offer support to local inhabitants including providing cheap computing facilities. Use is not however limited to locals and the rates seem to be a usually be a very modest $4 an hour including internet access and $2 to blow a CD. We downloaded all our cards using the USB link and put them onto a CD - there were a lot so it took us an hour and a half by the time we were finished but it was still a very well spent $8.00 to have another 560 pictures safely backed up and ready to mail into safe keeping.
We then set out for Clunes which turned out to be suspended in a time warp. The information centre was closed but a board got us to the museum, which was closed but suggested going to the library, post office, information centre or newsagent for information. The library was closed but the post office open but without information - the newsagent showed us some of his own pictures of when a historic film was made! We drove round looking for inspiration and came upon a board which led us to a memorial but the plaque had been levered off so we did not know what it commemorated but it was opposite a mining site with a board about the Port Phillip and Colonial Company mine
The Port Phillip and Colonial Company mine initially floated in London in 1851 but got off to a poor start and did not produce till 1857 after which it did produced a lot of Gold from Quart reefs and was at one point one of the top 5 producers in Victoria with a stamper battery with 80 stamps and the first use of Roots blowers to ventilate the mine. It also used an unusual technique of roasting the quartz before it went to the stamps. By the time it closed in 1891 it had produced over 16,000 kgs of gold. It was also unusual in that it was on private ground rather than crown land and the situation took 26 years to resolve and legitimise! They also had trouble with 'poachers' and at one point there were 27 shafts along their boundary and underground battles, smoking out of miners and even massive explosions with gunpowder - such is the pull of gold.
As we left we filled up with diesel as the prices were also suspended - the cheapest we had found in Australia and they had a map with the information we had spent hours looking for - they confirmed the memorial had been on the site of the first find just above the creek.
We stopped to look into the Information Office at Creswick which had a little more information for us then travelled on to Ballarat where we stopped at a Big4 campsite which is, according to all its awards the best in Australia, or perhaps Victoria or maybe just Ballarat or the Goldfields but definitely for the last 4 years - we did not investigate and it does seem the best yet to us so who cares? We ate in a local restaurant which was only 5 minutes walk from the camp site which had been recommended to us which had a menu covering Italian, Indian and Thai - there must have been over 100 dishes on the menu. We had the Indian which was good and their hot meant hot, the sort where you cannot sit down the following day!
Ballarat is not best known for the fabulous finds of gold but for the Battle of the Eureka Stockade where 120 miners fought under the Flag of the Southern Cross and were overcome by a better armed and superior in number force of 290 well trained soldiers and police. This brief but bloody conflict only lasted half an hour at the end of which nearly 30 miners were dead or dying and another 6 soldiers. The legacy of the Eureka battle was however a profound change in politics, representation of the people and mining along with an enduring legend of Australia spirit out of all proportion to the skirmish. The first symptom of this change was that when the ringleaders were tried for treason they were acquitted, in fact many became prominent including the leader Lahor, who lost an arm under the flag, but ended up as Speaker in the parliament.
We walked the paths followed by the military force and understand how they gained the surprise that led to the small numbers of miners being present and went round the large Eureka Centre on the site. We also bought an old but classic book on mining in Australia which has put the happenings into context.
Whole books have been written on Eureka and scholars still argue over the causes, rights, wrongs, responsibilities and significance to the development of Australia. To understand how it came about and the effects you have to understand much of the development of gold mining in Australia and the difficulties in a fledgling colony as it was the culmination of many stages of a festering feeling of injustice and unrest but the one that formed the turning point. It is clearly impossible to do more than give a few key points here on the background issues and why they came to a head at Ballarat.
Firstly and unlike most other minerals gold belonged to the Crown. The rush to Ophir had forced the local government to rationalise the situation by issuing licences because it had lost control - there were more miners than government forces within days of the rush starting. Licenses were tolerated or even welcomed initially because they brought some order and stability to the claims and the sums were large compared to the gold being found and they were sympathetically administered at Ophir and the various diggings around there in New South Wales. Communications played a major role - any changes to laws had to be passed in London so took a minimum of a year, whilst a Gold Rush developed rapidly and thousands of miners could move in days and tens of thousands in weeks, the fasted time that even local government could react. Another factor was that Victoria only separated from New South Wales in August 1851 a few months before the major Rushes to the Mount Alexander area where fabulous finds of alluvial gold were found.
The new government was pennyless yet saw its tax revenue disappearing as the population deserted the farms, the shops, the ships and the police It naturally introduced a licence system in Victoria but not so sympathetically and with a separate agenda of returning miners to their normal occupations. The licence was 30 shillings a month, bought in advance and had to be carried all the time - in Forest Creek it was for a claim size of 8x8 feet and Ballarat for 12x12 feet and the maximum claim was for 4 people. Fines for not carrying a licence started at 5 pounds and rose rapidly - if you could not pay it was hard labour. Add to this a police force mostly ex convicts or soldiers of dubious background, believed to be corrupt and drunken by the miners who gained 50% of all the revenue and it is surprising there was not more trouble earlier.
The licence could be supported in the initial days by the rich returns of alluvial gold from close to the surface and even from shallow mines to 30 feet. By 1854 the mines in Balarrat were reaching 120 or more feet still on areas 24x24 feet but needing more than the 4 miners to keep them bailed out of water 24 hours a day. These took many months to dig before there was any reward or way to pay licences. At the same time a progressively more desperate government was increasing the frequency of licence inspections - they had to be on the miner at every moment and operations had to stop whilst the miners climbed 120 feet up slippery steps. Add to these national factors, many at Eureka were Irish and other nationalities. Many of the miners were well educated and bred but miners had no rights or vote and recall that political change and Chartism were running through Europe. It was only to be expected that change would be sought and a Ballarat Reform League would be formed with a charter for change and a large petition for change would be sent to parliament only to be ignored. The charter makes interesting reading and I will quote the first item "That it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called upon to obey, that taxation without representation is tyranny".
The above are only a few of the general factors, there were local issues as well. The outcome was that miners got a vote and that the running of the goldfields became a much more local issue and was by locally elected boards. Many of the 'rebels' became prominent in the goldfield administration and nationally and the proud flag of the 'Southern Cross' with its 5 white stars on deep blue they fought under is still to be seen in the Australian Flag. The huge flag itself was found hidden in a drawer of the fine arts gallery in the 1970s still covered in mud and blood with bullet holes and sword slashes and after much sole searching the community leaders were convinced to accept the role the town had played and the flag is now preserved and displayed in what the city describes as "a shrine like setting" in the Art Gallery.
We will continue our journey in the final section Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and on to Adelaide