During 1853 and 1854 the tensions are rising around the goldfields of Ballarat. The miners are becoming increasingly frustrated at the harsh treatment they receive from the local authorities, especially at the high fees they must pay for the mining licences introduced in 1851. Many of those diggers live in poverty thus unable to pay those fees and get hassled by the authorities. No licence meant no digging and no chance to strike gold.
One of the events that will anger even more the diggers is the murder of a young Scottish digger, James Scobie, in a brawl outside the Eureka Hotel (Photo: reproduction of the facade at the Eureka Centre) in October 1854, and the inability of the authorities to sentence the culprit as quickly as the community would have liked. On 17 October 1854 the Eureka Hotel was burnt down, its owner James Bentley being the main suspect in Scobie's murder later to be found guilty of manslaughter.