View St, Camp Hill (Rosalind Park), Bendigo


The Red Ribbon Agitation

The Bendigo Goldfields Petition of mid 1853  was initiated by the Anti-Gold Licence Association which was formed on 6th June 1853. It was signed by more than 5,000 people from Bendigo and other goldfields. It has been described as a dignified and sensible document. It condemned the unjust licence and the manner it was enforced and called for land to be made available for sale and for wider franchise.

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29km: Creswick

40km: Chewton

89km: Castlemaine

117km: Ballarat

117km: Bakery Hill

117km: Star Hotel

129km: Buninyong

157km: St Paul’s Melbourne

243km: Beechworth

It requested that the licence be reduced from 30 to 10 shillings a month, payable quarterly with new arrivals given a 15 day grace period and that police be unarmed when on licence duty.

It received an unsatisfactory response from Lieutenant Governor La Trobe on 1st August 1853. This was reported back to a large meeting in Bendigo on 13th August. The diggers’ response was to adopt a passive resistance approach.  To offer the Commissioner just 10 shillings for the September licence  and if it was refused then to pay nothing and wear a red ribbon in their hat to show that they had not paid the September licence. Thousands of diggers did this.

Fearing a revolution, the Government capitulated. The fee was not enforced for September and the Government told the diggers that a proposal to reform the system was being considered.

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