The Oath of Eureka

Bartlett Adamson


The workers of Kembla, those leaders of men,
Those leaders of deed as in thought.
They challenged the might of the pound and the yen,
And there at the 'Dalfram' they fought
The cause of the Chinese distraught.
And still marching onward,
With gaze lifted sunward,
The call of Eureka is caught.
Democracy thrills at that message of yore,
The vow of Eureka has echoed once more.

On 18 November 1938, Port Kembla waterside workers refused to load pig iron for Japan onto the steamer Dalfram. At that time Japan was at war with China, and the iron ore was viewed as intended to be used as armaments against China (Japan was also seen as a security threat to Australia). The federal government under Josph Lyons, in particular the Attorney-General Robert Menzies (who became known as "Pig Iron Bob", later Prime Minister), applied pressure against the workers (threatening them with jail and legal penalties), who finally gave in and loaded the ship under protest in January 1939.
Note: Pig iron is iron ore in a more advanced state of manafacture.
Published in A Documentary History of the Australian Labor Movement 1850-1975, edited by Brian J. McKinlay, 1979 (see pages 463, 672-673).

Echoes of Eureka:
Poems of the Australian Republic, The Eureka Rebellion of 1854, and Eureka's Flag of Stars

Australian Nationalism Information Database -