australian colonial history
Australian Colonial History
Gold in Ballarat Victoria and the Eureka Uprising, 1854.
In 1854 several hundred recently arrived miners from all parts of the globe staged a series of protests against
harassment by the goldfields troopers, a monthly miners license that they deemed unfair and an ineffective goldfields
commissioner who was unsympathetic and unable to address their complaints adequately. The situation escalated
until the miners constructed a crude stockade, armed themselves and vowed to stand together against this ‘tyranny’.
Why were the authorities so concerned about these protests? Did the storming of the stockade by 280 armed police
and soldiers prove what the miners were claiming? How was it that the 13 miners charged with treason after the
uprising were found to be ‘not guilty’ by jurors? In the colony of Victoria in 1858 a law was introduced, granting all male
adults the right to vote. What connections did this political advance have to the Eureka Uprising?
The Kelly Uprising in North East Victoria in the 1878 - 1880
Ned Kelly and his gang of young larrikins selectively stole cattle and horses since their early teenage years. Of Irish
background and from the class of small selectors on small farms, they also worked shearing and in timber mills at
times. Angry at the difficulties of farming small holdings and police harassment they graduated from delinquency to
murder. Why was there so much support for them in the district? Did they really have any workable plans or were they
just opportunists trying to stay one step ahead of the manhunt for them in the last two years of the gang? Were they
ever likely to lead a rebellion in North East Victoria?
The Boom & Bust Years: Is It All About Greed?
Land sharks, shysters, con men and investors! Who could tell them apart? And didn’t everyone want their piece of the
action in the 1880s? “Marvellous Melbourne” would be created then torn apart by both optimism and despair during
this period of economic growth and disruption.
The Growth of the Labour Movement in 1890s
The Shearers Strikes in Western Queensland in 1891, 1894; the Sunshine Harvester Strike of 1911 in Victoria; and The
Great Strike of 1917 that started at the Randwick Tram Sheds marked a resumption by a new generation of workers of
demands for a “fair go”. Did this all start with the Eureka Stockade in the 1850s? Or were these the first great battles
between capital and labour that would come to define Australian politics in the twentieth century? And how do these
actions fit with the Fabian Socialism of Sidney and Beatrice Webb who visited Australia in 1898?
Moments in Australian History
This course was presented to Benalla U3A 2018, Feb-June in fortnightly sessions of 2 hours.
‘History’ is very much a ‘shape shifter’ It’s a personal presentation that reflects a particular historian’s point of view. So
there is no such thing as infallible history only various propositions about what probably happened. We can never truly
recreate the past, but only interpret it according to the best evidence that has survived and our personal beliefs about
what the evidence shows.
We will use discussion, art, songs, photos and videos where possible to explore the following six topics that are based
mostly in the nineteenth century. The following topics will trace some main threads through these very different
Different ways colonists participated in minor rebellions as the nineteenth century progressed; and
The establishment of the two class system in the colonies: the middle classes and the working class; and
The steady rise of the working class politically.
Dr. Meg Dillon
The indomitable Captain William Bligh: Hero or Villain?
Using the stories of the mutiny against Bligh on the Bounty and the rebellion against him in 1808 in the young
settlement of Sydney, we will examine the tensions, jealousies and power plays that fractured the first thirty years of
The Large Hole in the Ground
The Australian colonies made their wealth in the nineteenth century by mining. We all know of the gold in the 1850s
but what of the others? We will take a look at gold in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, Mount Isa Mines in Queensland
and Mt Lyall in Tasmania.