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Two activists from New South Wales were honoured in the Eureka Australia awards: 93 year old Phyllis Johnson from Padstow, and Wollongong activist Hans Post. The 154th anniversary commemmoration of Eureka on December 3 continues to explore the relevance of social activism and history. Various activities through out the day explored the meaning of the Eureka Rebellionto participants, the propaganda war on the Eureka story, and a recognition of those activists who have made social contributions in the spirit of Eureka through the Eureka Australia Medal awards at Bakery Hill.

Related: Sack Keelty | Flickr: Eureka 2008 photos | YouTube Videos: 1, 2, 3, 4 | Story: End the War on Terror – Sack Keelty

In 2008 the 154th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion and massacre was commemorated on December 3 in Ballarat commencing with a 4a.m. dawn vigil at the Eureka monument in Eureka park. Over 40 people attended, one of the largest since the 150th anniversary in 2004. Most people had come from Melbourne, but a few local people from Ballarat attended as well as several people from regional Victoria and New South Wales. Community Televsion Channel 31 had sent two videographers to document the days activities. The local regional television, Win TV, also filmed the dawn vigil. In past years the mainstream media has not turned up or bothered to report the Dawn vigil and other activities organised by the Anarchist Media Institute.

End the War on Terror – Sack Keelty

After the dawn vigil lantern maker and activist Graeme Dunstan set fire to an effigy of Mick Keelty, Australian Federal Police Commissioner who instituted the many terror laws under the Howard Government.

March to Bakery Hill and Cemetery

It was a full day of activities incorporating a march to Bakery Hill where the Anarchist Media Institute presented the Eureka Australia Medal awards to people nominated in the best spirit of Eureka. The 2008 awards included:

  • Margaret Creagh – anarchist activist from Melbourne
  • Phyllis Johnson – Sydney communist and social activist
  • Hans Post – Wollongong union and anarchist activist

Under the Eureka Flag flying from the roundabout the oath was affirmed with young Tarryn leading the swearing of the oath.

People then marched up to the Ballarat Town Hall where we heard that Ballarat Council, although promoting Eureka for tourism and commercial purposes, can’t even be bothered flying the Eureka flag from the top flag pole of the Town Hall.

On to the Ballarat Central Cemetery where respects were paid to the diggers and soldiers who died 154 years ago. See Videos:

Joseph Toscano on the Diggers Memorial

Joseph Toscano talking on Eureka Soldiers Memorial 2008

Graeme Dunstan on Eureka Propaganda War 2008 and the Ballarat Council

Then the long march back to Eureka Park for a late lunch, on the way stopping at the Ballarat Gallery of Fine Art to see the remains of the original Eureka Flag, with another informative talk by Joseph Toscano and others.

At 3.30pm there was an official unveiling of two historic plaques near the Eureka Centre.

Ron Egeberg, from Ballarat’s Eureka Centre, told the ABC that it is important to continue to mark the anniversary. “Eureka was the foundation of the democracy that we enjoy today,” he said. “Since the Eureka Rebellion 154 years ago, each year the third of December has been marked with a range of activities that celebrate, commemorate and ensure that we remember the lasting legacy of Eureka.”

What Ron didn’t say is that most of the activities on the actual anniversary are organised by the Anarchist Media Institute. That was the case in 2002 and is still the case. Although if you go along to the Eureka Stockade Centre on the anniversary, entrance to their exhibition is free.

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