Cross of the South tells the story of the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, which took place in Ballarat on Sunday, 3 December 1854. The battle was the culmination of the Eureka Rebellion – a series of events involving a revolt by gold miners against the British administration in the colony of Victoria. The miners’ grievances centred around the cost (30 shillings per month) of mining permits and the officious way in which the system administered.
On the day of the battle a combined force of close to 300 soldiers and police staged a dawn attack on the 120-150 miners who had remained within the stockade on the preceding Saturday night. The fighting resulted in an official total of 27 deaths and many injuries, with most of the casualties being amongst the miners.
Thirteen captured miners were later tried for high treason, but mass public support led to their acquittal. Several reforms sought by the rebels were subsequently implemented, including legislation providing for universal adult male suffrage for the Legislative Assembly elections and the removal of property qualifications for Legislative Assembly members. The leader of the miners, Peter Lalor, went on to be elected to the Victorian parliament in 1855, eventually serving as speaker of the legislative assembly from 1880 to 1887.
Over the years, widely differing opinions have been expressed regarding the significance and legacy of the Eureka Rebellion. In this arrangement, a fifth verse has been added which reflects a positive point of view maintaining that Eureka was a seminal event and that it marked a major change in the course of Australian history.
The tune is based on the Irish folk song Kelly the Boy from Killane.
These two arrangements of Cross of the South – a Ballad of Eureka Stockade are part of a larger collection of choral arrangements of 20 Australian folk song titles. The works were commissioned in 2022 by the Queensland Kodály Choir as a legacy project of Australian Choral Music and are collectively available in a two-part anthology titled On a Distant Shore.
The Queensland Kodály Choir has generously determined that these anthologies and all of their associated resources should be made freely available to anyone who would like to make use of them. To facilitate this, whilst each of the arrangements is copyright, the full set of project resources has been licensed under Creative Commons International Licence, meaning that they can be freely shared, copied and/or redistributed.
Conductors/choirs wishing to access the Anthology – Parts 1 & 2 – and/or the companion rehearsal tracks, can do so by following the link to the Cuskelly College of Music website. The complete individual titles (including cover title page, vocal score, piano accompaniment, extracted instrument parts, performance notes and glossary of terms) are available in the Anthology Catalogue on this website.
Perusal and download copies of the two arrangements of Cross of the South – a Ballad of Eureka Stockade are available below.
Featured Image: “Eureka Stockade Riot, Ballarat, 1854” by John Black Henderson (1827-1918), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.