Photo: Black and white image of a line of men marching around a corner with small old buildings in the background.
What was the Darwin rebellion?
It’s a brave and foolish man who ups the price of beer on Territorians, and an even more unwise one who cuts off their shipment of Victoria Bitter, just before Christmas.
Darwinites have recognised the centenary of the 1918 Darwin rebellion.
The hiking of beer prices was a catalyst for the union uprising outside Government House, where the Administrator John Gilruth was knocked down during the protest.
The rebellion eventually lead to Dr Gilruth being removed from his position, and a shipload of Victoria Beer was finally unloaded in Darwin.
But this was typical of Territory Administrator John Gilruth and his time in office where his heinous moves triggered the Darwin Rebellion of 1918, and eventually saw him driven out of the tropical town for good.
“Gilruth raised the price of beer and put it up to one and ninepence’. Now that’s dear beer, so to speak.” said author Honeywill.
On top of this atrocity, the ever-arrogant Dr Gilruth nailed down his final undoing by refusing to allow the unloading of crates of Victoria Beer from a freighter destined for Singapore.
“And that was enough,” Mr Honeywill said.”The boys were marching, and so they marched in … 700 Darwinites mustered and gathered outside that fence over there … this is where it actually happened.”
Outside his place of residence at Government House the mob angrily demanded Dr Gilruth explain his actions and called for him to step down from his post.
They demanded fairness. Equality. And cheaper bloody beer.
Dr Gilruth was knocked down by protestors, and Government House sustained some damage in the melee.
But calm was eventually restored, and violence gave way to reason.
“Rationality, which is the way in the Territory … rationality between Gilruth [and the union] saw the whole thing dissipate at the end,” Mr Honeywill said.
But the moment marked the beginning of the end for Dr Gilruth — within two months of the rebellion he had received his marching orders from the Commonwealth, stripped of his role and sent back down south.