REMEMBERING THE DIGGERS’ MONSTER MEETING
The first commemoration of the Diggers’ 1851 Monster Meeting was organised by Doug Ralph and friends in Castlemaine in 1995 and since 2003 has been celebrated annually in December at the Monster Meeting site at Chewton in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park.
There are on-site gatherings every December with music and speeches to celebrate the stand the Diggers took to protect their rights. There are commemorative plaques at the Meeting site beside Forest Creek and on the highway at the entry to Chewton. The Diggers’ flag flies in both places and is now available to wear on a t-shirt.
A song award competition in 2010 resulted in a gala concert of 14 of the songs in the Castlemaine Theatre Royal and a double CD of 13 the songs and the story of the Meeting. The CD was launched with another gala concert in Castlemaine in 2012.
In 2014 the Chewton Domain Society published The Monster Meeting Book by Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky and it maintains this website (www.monstermeeting.net) to tell the story of the Diggers’ Meeting and how it started a democratic movement of protest across the goldfields.
Bundle of Sticks, Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky’s one-man performance about the Diggers’ 1851 Meeting, premiered in Chewton in 2019.
In 2021 Chewton Domain Society published Mount Alexander Mountain of Gold 1851-1861. The gold rush generation and the new society by Marjorie Theobald. It is a history of the first tumultuous decade of the Mount Alexander gold rush and the thousands who came looking for gold and ignited a protest movement that began the march to parliamentary democracy in Victoria. Copies have been donated to local public libraries, schools, historical societies and other community organisations. It can also be bought from bookshops and Chewton Domain Society (RRP $39.95).
The flag, CD, books and t-shirt can all be purchased from CDS. Click here for how to order.
An important commemoration came in 2017 when the Victorian Government listed the Monster Meeting site in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR2368). The listing formally acknowledged the historically significant role the 1851 Monster Meeting of Diggers in the early development of democracy in Victoria.
An annual record of the commemorative events and celebrations is included below. Reports of the annual commemorations an also be found at www.chewton.net and in the pages of the Chewton Chat, which provides monthly reports plus an annual summary of the previous year in each January edition. You can access the current edition of the Chewton Chat at www.chewton.net and the State Library of Victoria has a full collection which can be accessed on-line @ https://www.slv.vic.gov.au (search for Chewton Chat). The Castlemaine Mail has also reported events over the years.