The Monster Meeting Interviews are a series of six interviews, conducted by Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky, about the Monster Meeting of 15 December 1851, and the related history of the 1850s Victorian gold rush.

Entertaining, informative and insightful, these interviews are full of wonderful storytelling, sharp historical insight, differing perspectives and new information about the political movement for democracy that was a hallmark of the 1850’s Victorian gold rush.

Anyone with a beginners knowledge of this history will find that these interviews are easy to follow, and will provide a fast track into understanding this significant event in Australian history.

However, with such a brace of talented and informative interviewees, these videos will also be of particular interest to historians, teachers and students, gold rush buffs, students of democracy and residents of the gold rush country – particularly as The Monster Meeting Interviews reveal events that former accounts of the gold rush have overlooked.

The principal thesis behind these interviews is: that the Monster Meeting of 15 December 1851 on the Forest Creek/Mount Alexander gold field was the event that united the individual gold seekers into a political force that became the Diggers; that the subsequent events at the Eureka Stockade at Ballarat in 1954, where over thirty Diggers lost their lives, began three years earlier with the Monster Meeting; and that the Monster Meeting set a path to popular democracy in Australia.

The order of interviews is structured so as to progress from an introduction and overview of the Monster Meeting and the gold rush through to in depth political and social analysis and discussion: the machinations of the Victorian Legislative Council and Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe, the global issues of democracy, then and now, the relationship of the Monster Meeting to the outbreak of violence at the Eureka Stockade at Ballarat in 1854, and the legacy for us today, including topics such as the gold rush landscape and Indigenous people in the gold rush.

Written & co-produced by Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky
Filmed, edited & co-produced by Davide Michielin
Lighting & sound: Denise Martin
Executive producer for Chewton Domain Society: John Ellis

Funded by Ballarat Reform League with assistance from the Vera Moore Foundation & the Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage Program (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities).


Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky

A storyteller and musician, Jan has been the director of the Monster Meeting Project since its inception in 2010 with the Monster Meeting Song Award, the double CD The Monster Meeting, and now The Monster Meeting Interviews. Jan’s other credits include books such as Me & Phar Lap  (Slattery Media, 2010) and Born Under the Paperbark Tree (ABC Books/ JB Books 1996), television documentaries Buwaralla Akariyya:Journey East (ABC 1990) and Aeroplane Dance (SBS 1993), stage shows The Go-Between: William Murrungurk Buckley and Lest We Forget: Hic Unutmaya Cagiz, and in music as a founder of The Bushwackers Band.



1. Robyn Annear: (69 minutes)

A writer and historian, Robyn Annear writes books such as Bearbrass; Imagining early Melbourne (Mandarin 1995), Nothing But Gold: The Diggers of 1852 (Text 1999) and A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne (Black Inc. 2005). Robyn is also a regular contributor to The Monthly and an entertaining speaker, as you will see in this interview. For more wit and information go to

Overview of Interview
A gifted storyteller, Robyn paints a vivid and humorous picture of the goldfields, the characters, the political issues, the meeting itself and the meaning of it all.

Robyn Annear Interview Details

2. Doug Ralph (35 minutes)

Castlemaine born and bred, Doug Ralph is a well-known environmentalist, activist, and local historian. His knowledge of the local landscape is unparalleled, and his Sunday morning bush walks are a delight. In 1995 Doug was the instigator of the present day commemorations of the Monster Meeting.

Overview of Interview
A Castlemaine living treasure, Doug tells how the Monster Meeting was revived in 1995, contextualises the gold rush within a longer history of the land and Indigenous people, and talks about the legacy of the Monster Meeting.

Doug Ralph Interview Details

3. Geoff Hocking (17 minutes)

Geoff Hocking is a Castlemaine based author, publisher, historian and artist. His books relating to gold rush history include Early Castlemaine: A Glance at the Stirring Fifties (New Chum Press, 1998), Castlemaine: From Camp to City (Five Mile Press, 1994) and Under the Southern Cross (Five Mile Press, 2012).

Overview of Interview
In the spirit of the Monster Meeting, Geoff provides a dissenting interpretation of the current Monster Meeting flag and talks of the history of Chartist monster meetings in Great Britain, and of the values we inherit  from our Monster Meeting.

Geoff Hocking Interview Details

4. Dr. Marjorie Theobald (54 minutes)

Marjorie Theobald began her career as a secondary school teacher, then became an historian at Melbourne University from 1987-2001. Upon retirement she wrote books, including Ruyton Remembers 1879-1978 (Hawthorn Press, 1978), Knowing Women: Origins of Women’s Education in Nineteenth-Century Australia (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and The Wealth Beneath their Feet: a Family on the Castlemaine Goldfields (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011). Marjorie is currently writing a history of the first decade of her home town, Castlemaine.

Overview of Interview
With Marjorie we go deeper into the political machinations of early Victoria, the Monster Meeting and the Gold License, with a keen and incisive eye for the character of Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe, the squattocracy, the diggers, and the consequences of the Monster Meeting.

(View the Tulloch illustration of the Monster Meeting referred to by Marjorie Theobald.)

Marjorie Theobald Interview Details

5. Prof. Weston Bate OAM (55 minutes)

Weston Bate is a social historian. He’s the author of many books, including Lucky City: the first generation at Ballarat, 1851–1901 (Melbourne University Press, 2003), Victorian Gold Rushes (Sovereign Hill Museums Association, 1999), Having a Go: Bill Boyd’s Mallee (Museum of Victoria, 1989, with Bill Boyd) and Essential but Unplanned: the story of Melbourne’s Lanes (State Library of Victoria, 1994).  Weston was also Head of Australian History at Melbourne University, served in the Australian Air Force during World War Two, and began his working life as a primary school teacher.

Overview of Interview
With this great historian we go further into the social politics of the gold rush and the Monster Meeting, viewing the events and times as one of social revolution in concert with the 1840s revolutions in Europe, containing elements of republicanism and small l liberalism, powered by   the union of capital and labour and the liberation provided to the ordinary worker by the “democratic mineral” – gold.

Weston Bate Interview Details

6. David Bannear (28 minutes)

An archeologist, David Bannear, is a Heritage Officer with Heritage Victoria and the Department of Planning and community Victoria. Living in Castlemaine, David has compiled seven reports on the local gold mining country, having methodically trekked over every hill and gully recording locations of old mines and many other features. These reports are available at

Overview of Interview
To conclude the series, David provides a philosophical and emotional overview of the land of the gold rush: how the Monster Meeting shaped the gold seekers into being the Diggers, which led to Eureka, and spawned the skilled communities that continue to thrive in the gold fields country – towns that are welcoming places to outsiders, where the story is still there in the country for everyone to become part of and to inherit.

David Bannear Interview Details