The symbol of Australian's only armed uprising.
During the attack on the stockade, the Eureka flag was hauled down from a flag pole by a Trooper John King and brought it back in triumph to the Government Camp. King showed the flag to all those who were curious, allowing small pieces to be cut off as souvenirs. The flag remained in the King family after his death and was eventually presented to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery in 1895. The flag is now on permanent display at the Gallery.
Raffello Carboni in his published account of the Eureka uprising (R.Carboni, The Eureka Stockade, Melbourne , 1855) wrote of the flag
There is no flag in Europe or in the civilised world half so beautiful... the flag is silk, blue ground, with a large silver cross; no device or arms, but all exceedingly chaste and natural
Restoration carried out on the flag in 1973 revealed it to be made of a fine woollen mohair fabric, possessing a ‘silky’ sheen commented on by Carboni. The stars were constructed of a transparent white ‘petticoat’ lawn.
Several different groups and individuals have been suggested as the makers of the flag. A number of diggers attending a meeting before the uprising are reported to have looked at the sky, seen the Southern Cross star formation, acquired material from a tent maker and constructed the flag, possibly with the help of miners’ wives. It is also thought that the Canadian digger Captain Ross may have designed the flag and organised miners’ wives to make it.
In recent decades the importance of the Eureka flag has increased within Australia. On many occasions it has been taken up by political groups as a symbol of rebellion against the more authoritarian elements in Australian society. Today the flag is viewed by many as a national icon.