Jul 29
2013

Will you save our name?

This is a written submission by Erin McCuskey to the Electoral Boundaries Commission:

“What follows is an objection, and suggestion, regarding Ballarat East. I am sure I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of history however what I do have is a passion for Ballarat East.

Dear Electoral Boundaries Commission,
Ballarat East is my home. It is a suburb demeaned by history and forgotten by the present. If you continue with your plans to erase Ballarat East District, you will erase an already diminished understanding of our place in history.

I understand the need to redraw boundaries, I understand the need for fairness and I understand that you may not have all the knowledge you need to make such a devastating decision.

Ballarat actually began life in the area we call Ballarat East. Gold was discovered in early 1850s, and people came from all over the country, indeed the world, in an attempt to get rich quick. Not long after the Eureka Rebellion took place against an unfair tax. 22 miners died. Not long after we gained male suffrage, supporting the notion that this is the birthplace of Democracy.

All this occurred in Ballarat East.

The retail area of the city consisted mainly of lean-tos, tents and huts that held pubs, opium dens and grocers. We had the Ballarat East Post Office, Ballarat East Town Hall with formal gardens, Ballarat East Free Library and Fire Station all centred around the Ballarat East civic centre of Main Road and Barkly Streets. We even had our own railway station.

By 1859 Ballarat East had gained municipal status, the first area of Ballarat.

Most of these buildings have either been demolished or are now in private hands, or no longer accessible by the community. After fires in 1860s the commercial area moved to the pre-planned area to the west, where people generally believe that Ballarat began.

In 1867 Prince Alfred arrived to visit, the Prince Alfred Hall was built over the Yarrowee Creek which defined the boundary of the two areas. There was also an almost forgotten assassination attempt. We had it all.

East Ballarat Town Council was amalgamated with Ballarat West Town Council around 1920 to form the City of Ballarat.

Since that time our name, like the proud buildings that once held it, are being erased. It is clear that no-one but historians are aware of our actual heritage in this beautiful heritage city. The suburb has been renamed, so the story goes, at the suggestion of a consultant in the 70s who believed that a name change may improve its outlook, and the outlook of the ‘easties’.

Now we have two suburbs called Eureka and Canadian. However the Eureka Rebellion didn’t happen at Eureka it happened in Ballarat East. We have a beautiful urban forest called Canadian State Forest, but it is not in Canadian, it is in Ballarat East.

Such an interesting history, such a wonderful story, will be lost with the redrawing of the boundaries and the only remaining official name of this place called Ballarat East. What we will also lose is the ability to remember what happened here, to learn and grow with that knowledge.

Now almost totally residential, this area has been dug-up by miners, left to residents to create again, cut-up by developers, left to residents to fight for our backyards. Please at least leave us with our name. Losing our name will ensure we lose our historic identity, and Ballarat loses a living record of it’s evolution.

People are already unsure about where Ballarat East is :

http://ballarateast.net/where-is-ballarat-east/

and this is about how the easties feel about our area:

http://ballarateast.net/topics/character-of-the-east/

Ballarat East Network (BE Net), an informal group of local residents, has recently been invited to contribute to a worldwide pilot program to roll out UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape which requires taking a community led approach to the management of change in historic cities, with an aim “to enable an understanding of Ballarat’s natural, cultural/social and historic landscape.”

If UNESCO sees Ballarat East as important, surely our name is part of that.

Please reconsider the loss of Ballarat East’s name and the lost of connection to our social and historic landscape. Please help us keep our name.

Thank you

Erin M McCuskey

Ballarat East”

For background on this issue see: http://ballarateast.net/urgent-we-may-lose-ballarat-east/

5 comments

  1. […] WILL YOU SAVE OUR NAME. And here is what an ex-resident had to say: […]

  2. great letter erin, I hope they hear your voice!

  3. Ron Woods says:

    Removal of the electoral district of Ballarat East will NOT affect the name or boundaries of the suburb of Ballarat East. The electoral district of Ballarat East has only existed for a couple of decades. The suburbs of Ballarat East, Eureka and Canadian have existed since the 1850s but, like ALL of Ballarat’s suburbs, had their boundaries officially designated in 1998.

    Re the Eureka Rebellion: the “monster meeting” took place at Bakery Hill and the stockade was built at Eureka. These names (not Ballarat East) are used in official documents relating to the rebellion.

    • Erin says:

      Thanks Ron, however what is currently attributed as the ‘area’ of Ballarat East is a very small area of what it was once. The current electoral boundary is more reflective of the larger area of Ballarat East, from Main Road through to the highway. Maps of the time do not show any other areas here apart from Ballarat East. No mention of either Eureka nor Canadian.

      Contemporary ‘Official documents’ use official boundaries as they exist today. As I said I am not a historian and am happy to be proven wrong, however our city while proud of its heritage has forgotten and removed so much of the place where is all started. Residents of Ballarat East seem to be the only ones interested in saving it from over development and an erasing over time. It is a loss to all of Ballarat.

  4. Laurene says:

    as an ex resident of ballaarat east, i’d hate to see it go. i once was told”oh of course you’d live in ballaarat east – that’s where all the rabble have traditionally holed up.” rarely have i felt so proud to have lived anywhere. ballaarat east has a separate and fabulous tradition of rebellion, community activism and general independent action. it deserves to be celebrated with it’s own boundary and status.

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