Ballarat time capsule
Ballarat time capsule
Ballarat in Victoria has a rich history and this collection features footage dating back to 1901.
Before Europeans first arrived in the region in 1837, the Ballarat area was home to at least 25 Aboriginal tribes known as the Wathaurong (Wadawurrung) people that formed part of the Kulin Nation of Aboriginal people.
The inland city became famous when the first discovery of gold was made public on 2 August 1851, sparking a major gold rush. On 3 December 1854, Ballarat experienced Australia’s only armed civil uprising - the Eureka Rebellion - as miners protested new licensing laws.
In March 1938, Ballarat was in the full grip of floral fever. To celebrate 100 years since the first white settler set up camp by Lake Wendouree, millions of natural and artificial flowers decorated streets, buildings and even trams.
This film made by The Commonwealth Film Unit in 1972, produced with a sombre musical score and without narration, is an evocative mood piece showing Ballarat as the picture of a quiet, rural town. A far cry from the heady days of the gold rush and armed insurrection.
In 1901 The Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary, visited Melbourne to open Australia’s first federal parliament. Ensign Sidney Cook, a projectionist for the Salvation Army’s Limelight Department, shot film of their visit, for the Victorian Government. On 13 May the Duke and Duchess visited Ballarat and Cook’s footage is our oldest glimpse of an Australian provincial city.
This is an excerpt from an NFSA product called, Living Ballarat: 1901-1941 (1990). This clip shows the Ballarat Patriotic Day Carnival on 11 July 1941 to raise funds for British bombing victims. Mayor Michael Martin and Lt General Edward Smart watch the parade of men of the Australian Imperial Force and RAAF Wireless Air Gunners’ School.
Since it fluttered above a group of rebellious gold miners at the 1854 Eureka Stockade, the flag of the Southern Cross has become a symbol of democracy and defiance.
The flag – and the National Heritage-listed Eureka Stockade Gardens – remain potent symbols of Australia’s only revolution, a battle that was over in less than 30 minutes and claimed 38 lives.
Whether the revolution is interpreted as the birth of Australian democracy or a middle-class tax revolt, it was without doubt a defining moment in Australia’s history.
The flag is on public view at the Eureka Centre in Ballarat, on long-term loan from the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Did you know:
- At 30 shillings per month (the equivalent of three dollars per month in Australian decimal currency), the miners licence on the Ballarat goldfields of 1854 was twice the average weekly wage.
- The battle of the Eureka Stockade on 3 December 1854 lasted less than half an hour, but it claimed 38 lives – 33 miners and five soldiers.
- The Eureka flag was sewn in silk by three women and first hoisted at Bakery Hill in 1854.
- Eureka Oath of Allegiance: 'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties'.
Australia's Heritage: National Treasures with Chris Taylor is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.
The documentary opens with a shot of the Victory Arch spanning the Avenue of Honour which is a memorial to men who fought in WWI. A shot from a high vantage point shows Sturt street and another inner city street which has trams going along it. The statue of Peter Lalor and the obelisk commemorating the Eureka Stockade are shown. City Hall and the Post Office are shown. Residents of Ballarat are shown digging up the roadside of suburban streets in their search for gold. A group of them dig up soil and and pan it for gold in a nearby gully. The column commemorating the discovery of gold in 1851 is also shown. A man holds a model of a large nugget which was discovered in the area. The stucco exterior of the curiosity shop constructed by James Warwick is shown. A group of people walks through the Ballarat Botanic Gardens and the statue "Flight from Pompeii" by the sculptor Benzoni is also shown. At nearby Lake Wendouree people are shown sailing sailboats, riding on tourist boats, rowing row boats, fishing and enjoying the foreshores of the lake.
Lobby card for the film, Eureka Stockade (US title, Massacre Hill) shows miner, James Scobie, played by Al Thomas, attacked and killed on the goldfields.
Eureka Stockade starred Chips Rafferty as Peter Lalor, one of the leaders of the rebellion who later became a politician.
The Loyal Rebel is an Australian silent film directed by Alfred Rolfe set against the background of the Eureka Stockade.
Commercially manufactured theatrical projector glass slides were used for advertising at the cinema. The slide would have been shown before the feature and at intervals during the night's screenings.
The Loyal Rebel, 1915, was written by Authur Wright, directed by Alfred Rolfe and starred Reynolds Denniston and Maisie Carte. . The film is set against the background of the Eureka Rebellion. It is a 'lost film' and is only known through a few still photographs and contemporary newspaper advertisements.
'Ballarat the Fair’, performed by Robert Nicholson; Composer: Ernest Grenfell; Lyricist: Henry Brew. Broadcast (De Luxe Series) W555
This lobby card from the film, Eureka Stockade (US title, Massacre Hill), directed by Harry Watt, shows actor Chips Rafferty as Peter Lalor compelling the miners to unite.
In June 1927 Bert Ive produced the best surviving Ballarat documentary of the silent era. The footage starts from Blackhill Lookout looking west down MacArthur Street towards Lake Wendouree showing the mining dumps which are unrecognisable today and the electric trams which served commuters from 1905 until 1971. The film presents a modern inland city of post-First World War industry and agriculture, but we are still reminded of the glory days of the gold rush with men holding plaster models of some of the nuggets found during the mining boom, including the 69 kilogram 'Welcome Nugget’ found at Bakery Hill on 9 June 1858, the biggest lump of gold the world had ever seen.
The Eureka Rebellion is represented by the stature of rebel leader Peter Lalor erected in 1893 with the Eureka Stockade plaque on its base. Lalor survived the rebellion and lived to become a parliamentarian.
This lobby card from the film, Eureka Stockade (US title, Massacre Hill), directed by Harry Watt, shows actor Chips Rafferty as rebel leader Peter Lalor and fellow miners fighting to the last man in a scene reminiscent of something from Custer's Last Stand.