Celebrations and Futures

Investigation 1

How was Federation celebrated in Sydney?
Resource Sheet 1

Investigation 2

What anthems and ceremonies marked the official beginning of the Commonwealth of Australia?
Resource Sheet 2

Investigation 3

How was Federation celebrated throughout New South Wales?
Resource Sheet 3

Investigation 4

What images and symbols represent the spirit and importance of Federation?
Resource Sheet 4

Investigation 5

How can your community remember and celebrate Federation?

What are you thinking now?

Additional activities and exercises to explore in the classroom.


On 1 January 1901, Commonwealth Day, federated Australia came into being. The six separate Australian colonies had agreed to federate, and became States in the new nation. The new nation remained part of the British Empire, but now had a Federal Parliament to make laws for the whole continent.

In New South Wales, Commonwealth Day was a time of great celebration, both in Sydney and in regional centres. Even though Sydney came close to voting ‘no’ at the referendums, it hosted the ceremony that marked the ‘official’ inauguration of the Australian Commonwealth. With specially designed arches and floats, parades and other events, the celebrations highlighted the idea of nationhood – the strengthening of relationships with the other States and shared feelings of patriotism. Australians across the nation celebrated the democratic principles that had brought them together.

Today, Australia still celebrates its democratic traditions in many ways. Celebrations encourage reflection on the achievements of the past and consideration of the nation’s future. Each State also celebrates and reflects on its own identity – its unique history, the changes and developments that have shaped it, and how it sees its future. New South Wales has seen many changes and developments since 1901. Will these influence the way people of the State celebrate Federation today and into the future?