1. Themes
  2. A to Z
  • Click to view this Artwork

    'Great Meeting of Gold Diggers Dec’r 15th 1851’, c. 1851, by Thomas Ham, courtesy of State Library of Victoria.

The Path to Responsible Government

The path to responsible government in Victoria emerged from the conflicts that occurred on the goldfields. On the Mount Alexander diggings the moment came on 15 December 1851, at a monster meeting that attracted more than 10,000 diggers protesting at the increased cost of a licence to mine for gold. This gathering predated the better-known Red Ribbon Rebellion in Bendigo, and also the tumultuous events that took place at Bakery Hill culminating in the Eureka Stockade. Even the title ‘monster meeting’ given to the Castlemaine assembly would have been a particularly loaded one, being the same term used to describe the largest political protest to take place in Britain - the Chartist monster meeting on Kennington Common, London, in 1848. These series of protests have increasingly been regarded as formative moments that ushered in democratic principles and responsible government in Victoria.

Keir Reeves

Carboni, Raffaello, The Eureka Stockade: the consequence of some pirates wanting on quarter-deck a rebellion, Printed for the author by J.P. Atkinson, Melbourne, 1855. Details
Hocking, Geoff, The Red Ribbon Rebellion! The Bendigo petition, 3rd-27th August, 1853, New Chum Press, Castlemaine, 2001. Details
Pickering, Paul, 'The finger of God: gold's impact on New South Wales', in Iain McCalman and and Andrew Reeves Alexander Cook (eds), Gold: forgotten histories and lost objects of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2001. Details
Tulloch, D., and Thomas Ham, Ham's five views of the gold fields of Mount Alexander and Ballarat in the Colony of Victoria, Thomas Ham, Melbourne, 1852. Details