While working on a story relating to the Eureka Stockade I came upon some interesting information which may clarify a nearly 150 year old mystery relating to who designed the famous Eureka flag. Some accounts credit a Canadian miner, “Captain” Henry Ross, as being the designer of the flag. Others say the designer is still unknown and that Ross was simply the person who took the design to the three women, Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and Anastasia Hayes, who sewed up the flag in time for the rally on 29 November 1854.
A 1949 article in Queensland’s Morning Bulletin newspaper claims that the original flag was designed by Mr J. W. Wilson one night at the beginning of the uprising when he was in conference with Kennedy, Humphrey, Lalor and some others. The article included the following quote from a 1905 publication by Wilson … After some talking the discussion turned to what the flag should be and a variety of suggestions were put forward. “It was late when I went outside the tent, and I saw the Southern Cross shining in the sky just before it,” Mr Wilson said. “Kennedy, called, “I’ve got it. Here’s the idea. Come out.” “Where is it?’ he asked, and I replied that it was the Southern Cross, five white stars on a blue field. It was then agreed that this should be the flag.” Mr Wilson said. “The party went to another tent and roused a tarpaulin maker. They got what bunting they required and then and there made the blue banner with its garniture of white stars. Next day, being a Government official and having charge of the working prisoners, Mr. Wilson had a straight pole about 6 ft long cut in Byles’s [sic] Swamp, Ballarook Forest.
It was dressed and carried to Bakery Hill. Later in the day when the meeting was held the starry banner floated above the hill. It was then that the licenses were burnt and the greatest enthusiasm displayed by the men who were determined to resist the authorities. After Federation the stars were placed beside the Union Jack on the Australian Ensign.