Battle of Vinegar Hill, 5 March 1804To History
Of the convicts sent to New South Wales in the first 20 years of settlement, many were Irish rebels and sympathisers who were transported for their part in disagreeing with the English occupation of Ireland. By 1804 these Irish convicts accounted for a third of the population, and recognising the strength of such significant manpower the Irish convicts stationed in Castle Hill planned one of the most daring mass escapes from the colony.
It was decided that when the uprising was to occur, the password 'St Peter' would be circulated and the Irish convicts across the colony would rebel as one and march to Sydney harbour, where they would take for themselves a ship to be used to sail to freedom. After a successful attempt at overtaking the town the previous night, on the morning of March the 5th the 300 or so Irish convicts stationed at Castle Hill barracks started their march towards Sydney armed with rudimentary weapons. However, the password had not been circulated and the rebels would be ultimately outnumbered by the New South Wales army Corps who had been dispatched from Sydney to stop the uprising.
Claiming the lives of 15 Irish rebels upon their clash on Windsor Road, the remainder of the convicts would be sent to establish a Convict Punishment Centre north of Sydney under the command of Lieutenant Charles Menzies which would become the founding of the city of Newcastle. Significantly, the words 'vinegar hill' would be the password for entry to the Eureka Stockade some 50 years later.