158 years ago today, Victorian soldiers and police gathered 4:30am at the Mining Exchange in Ballarat, before creeping quietly out of town towards one of the rich gold seams around the town, appropriately named Eureka by its original discoverer.
At Eureka, a group of disaffected miners had built a wooden palisade, the Eureka Stockade. There were many causes of their disaffection. Most of them were newish immigrants, and they had brought with them political causes from their homelands. The Year of Revolutions, 1848, saw rebellions through most of Europe, and when reaction set in, many of these rebels fled. The gold fields in California (1848) and Victoria (1851) gave the possibility of a new life to unsuccessful revolutionaries from Ireland, Germany and Italy, as well as Chartists from England, where revolution had only just been avoided.