The history of Ballarat, situated at the heart of the goldfields of central Victoria, Australia, is closely tied to the colonial experience. As the site of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, its history is linked to the foundation myths of Australian democracy. It boasts both the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E), situated on one of the suspected sites of the rebels' stockade, and Australia's premier open air museum, the theme park of Sovereign Hill, which re-enacts life on the goldfields of the 1950s and 1860s. In Ballarat itself many of the businesses utilise symbols of the goldfields in their advertising and trademarks, as do many of the street names, festivals and public events. The Victorian architectural heritage is highly prized and showcased to the thousands of visiting tourists on Sturt and Lydiard Streets, and particularly those who come each year for Ballarat's Heritage Weekend festival held in May. Yet there is a dark side to this history. The prosperity of the gold was built on the land of the Wathawurrung Aborigines who were displaced and marginalised, and suffered under the weight of colonial occupation and environmental devastation. Likewise, despite the prominence of stories surrounding those who became wealty on the goldfields of central Victoria, many who came to Ballarat during the Victorian era found themselves displaced and living in extremen poverty, facing disease, hunger and vulnerability to crime, prostitution and dangerous working conditions. It is these stories from the underbelly of Ballarat's heritage that form the fodder of a thriving dark tourist industry, expressed in popular ghost tours and supplemented by a rich heritage of ghost stories in folklore and popular culture. In the tension between these two discordant narratives Ballarat has become, in popular imagination, a haunted city.
That the American Civil War occurred exclusively within North America and affected specifically United States affair is a common misconception. Whilst the majority of the infantry conflict occured within and between the United and then Confederate States of America, the clash was such that it and its effects spread accross the globe. Also engaged in the American Civil War were Prussian military observers; political entanglements with the United Kingdom and Russia; Canadian volunteers within the Union army; smuggling and blockade running from the Bahamas into the Confederate States; cotton shortages in French industries that were heavily reliant on raw materials imported from the southern states; merchant raiding in the Pacific and Atlantic; along with countless other entanglements to Europe and their colonies into the conflict through one means or another. The tyranny of distance notwithstanding, Australia was no exception to the overflow of conflicts and consequences that resulted from the American Civil War.