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Eureka education materials. Grades 5-8

Our online exhibition entitled Eureka on Trial, contains information about the events surrounding the Eureka Stockade. The exhibition showcases historical documents about this period in time from Public Record Office Victoria’s extensive collection.

Through exploring Eureka on Trial, students will be able to examine the conditions under which miners operated during the gold rush, as well as how the government of the day managed its relationship with the diggers. The Classroom Ideas below provide activities and ideas to help students to investigate the impact the Eureka Stockade had on the growth and development of Australia’s democratic movement.


Classroom ideas

Education Activities

  • Divide the class into half, one half diggers, and the other half Gold Commissioners or authorities. Organise for students to argue the case for and against the licence hunts.
  • Imagine you are a Gold Commissioner on the goldfields. Write a report to the Governor informing him of the conditions of the goldfields.
  • Imagine you are a digger on the goldfields. Describe what your daily living conditions are like.
  • Select a key figure in the story of the Eureka Stockade and write a small biography, including the role they played in the uprising. For example, Raffaelo Carboni, J.B. Humffray, Peter Lalor, or Lieutenant Governor Hotham.
  • Using the website as a guide, construct your own timeline of the events that led to the battle.
  • Compare the attitudes to the Eureka Stockade of those living in Melbourne, as opposed to the view of events held by the diggers.
  • Imagine you are one of the deputees sent to speak to Lieutenant Governor Hotham. What issues would you raise with him?
  • Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper in which you express your thoughts and feelings about the diggers’ plight and the way in which the authorities handled the situation.
  • Describe what you think this poem by Timothy Hayes would have meant to the diggers:
    ‘On to the field, our doom is sealed
    To conquer or be slaves:
    The sun shall see our country free
    Or set upon our graves.’ 


Questions to Consider

  • What was the purpose in forming the Ballarat Reform League?
  • According to Captain McMahon why were the diggers so frustrated with the authorities?
  • How did the Eureka Stockade help shape Australia?
  • Why do you think the thirteen prisoners tried for treason were not found guilty?
  • Do you think the diggers’ actions were treasonous? Why or why not?
  • Many of the diggers on the goldfields came from different countries, inluding Germany, France and Italy. Why do you think the authorities held these foreigners responsible for the outbreak?
  • Raffaello Carboni had fought in wars against oppression overseas. What, if any, impact do you think he would have had on the other miners?
  • Why were the diggers so determined to get the right to vote and what was the attitude of the authorities towards this idea?
  • Peter Lalor is recognised by most as the leader behind the diggers’ movement. Which other people played a significant role in the events of the Eureka Stockade?
  • Do you think the battle at Eureka was influenced by the miners’ desire for democracy or republicanism?
  • Why was the Southern Cross flag so offensive to the government and so symbolic to the diggers?
  • What was the role of the Gold Fields commissioners, and why do you think they were so despised by the diggers?
  • Why was the meeting on Bakery Hill so significant – what did it represent to both the authorities and to the diggers?
  • Why did the miners gather at the Eureka hotel and what prompted them to destroy it?
  • Could the miners have avoided violence in an effort to achieve their objectives?
  • How has the legacy of Eureka affected the way we live today?

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples