Investigation 4

What images and symbols represent the spirit and importance of Federation?

Federation wasn’t only celebrated through special events and ceremonies. People also created special pieces of writing, objects and images to symbolise nationhood and their feelings about the colonies uniting. Some of these were created before the inauguration of the new nation, but they still helped to ‘capture’ Federation’s significance.

Your Task

Interpret images and symbols to create your own ‘Australian nation’ artwork.


  1. As you examine the ‘Federated Australia’ drawing, consider the following questions.
    • Who might this man be? Why do you think he was included in this drawing?
    • What does the curtain symbolise? What is he revealing behind the curtain?
    • Why is the Southern Cross used in the drawing? In which parts of the world can the Southern Cross be seen?
    • What does a new dawn symbolise? What might this be the beginning of?
    • Why might the illustrator have chosen to represent Australia as a young woman? Why might the woman be holding the Federation flag?
    • How does the quote from Parkes support the picture?
  2. Use think-pair-share to brainstorm ways you could symbolise:
    • the people responsible for Federation;
    • Australia as a new nation;
    • the joining together of the six colonies;
    • one people; and
    • one destiny.
    Share your ideas with your classmates to create a ‘bank’ of ideas.
  3. Create a painting or collage that represents Australia becoming a nation. Give your work a title and write a short description to display with it–like in a museum or art gallery.
  4. Display the artworks. As a class, participate in a guided tour of the exhibition, allowing each artist to explain the symbols and images they have used in their work.