Eureka Day at Ballarat is both an emotionally and physically exhausting day. Starting at 4.00am and finishing around 3.00pm, it can be a particularly tiring day for people who have only managed to get a few hours sleep. This year was the 6th Anarchist Media Institute Australia Day celebrations. As the 3rd of December fell on a Monday, many of the participants from the last 2 years didn’t put in an appearance, sending their apologies instead. A pity when you think about it, because the idea behind holding the celebrations on the 3rd was to encourage people to take the day off work.
This year’s celebrations got of to a great start; for almost 2 hours the people who arrived for the dawn ceremony spoke about why they came. Their stories were moving and emotional. The darkness turned into light and the Southern Cross disappeared from the sky by the time everybody had spoken. After a communal breakfast in and around Eureka Hall, people had to kill 3 hours. Some slept in cars; others were seen deep in discussion. The opinion of those waiting was that we should start much earlier than 10am. Considering few people joined us at 10am, it seems to be a good idea to start at 8.30am or 9am. We marched down the road to Bakery Hill, the youngest member of the group – all of her 7 years – recited the Eureka oath.
The presentation of the Eureka Australia Day Medal to Doreen BURROW, Stuart HIGHWAY, Dave KERIN, Peter McGREGOR and Allan PARKER at Bakery Hill was a highlight of the day. After the presentations, we marched down the main street to City Hall to voice our concerns about how the city uses Eureka to bring in the tourist dollar, but doesn’t fly the Eureka flag on the main flagpole on City Hall on the 3rd of December. Ironically they don’t even hold any ‘official’ events on the day to celebrate Eureka. We then walked to the old Ballarat cemetery to pay our respects to the diggers and soldiers who died 153 years ago at Eureka – workers at either end of a bayonet.
By the time we left the cemetery, the crowd had dwindled to about half the people who set out 3 hours earlier. Those left, walked through Ballarat stopping at the Aboriginal Health Centre to say sorry. John LAWRENCE, a local, led the group in expressing our sorrow to the indigenous people of this country. By now, we were looking forward to walking the last 3 kilometres back to Eureka Park.
In terms of emotion, the celebrations were a success. All those who participated took something precious home with them that was much bigger than themselves. Participants in the long march through Ballarat reclaimed the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion on Monday the 3rd of December 2007. We encourage you to join us next year for the 7th Anarchist Media Institute Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion Celebrations.
Special thanks go to Anne and Bill PICKERING for hosting some of the participants at their home and driving them to Ballarat. We also thank them for storing the banners and flags during the year. Thanks to Phil for driving his truck behind the group to protect us from traffic when we took over the streets of Ballarat. A very special thanks to Stephen REGHENZANI who donated 50 Eureka Stockade 2004 (150th anniversary commemoration) – $1 un-circulated coins. Some of these coins were awarded to participants who had taken part in 5 of the 6 Eureka Australia Day celebrations. We will continue this tradition next year to publicly acknowledge people’s participation in the celebrations. Many thanks to everybody else who helped and all those who came. Hopefully you can come next year.
2007 ANARCHIST MEDIA INSTITUTE EUREKA AUSTRALIA DAY MEDAL RECEPIENTS:
Doreen BURROW – Wollongong, NSW, (Radical Activist – over 50 years)
Jean ELY & Ray NIELSEN – Melb, VIC, (Public Education Activist – over 40 years)
Stuart HIGHWAY – Darwin, NT (Community Radical Activist – over 20 years)
Dave KERIN – Melb, VIC (Workplace & Community Radical Activist – over 30 years)
PETER McGREGOR – Newcastle, NSW (Community & Education Radical Activist – over 40 years)
Alan PARKER – Sorrento, VIC, (Environmental Activist – nearly 60 years
2008 – ANARCHIST MEDIA INSTITUTE EUREKA AUSTRALIA MEDAL NOMINATIONS ARE NOW OPEN!! Send Your Nominations Today
Anarchist Media Institute
Repost from Anarchist Age Weekly Review No 766