Investigation 1

How was Federation celebrated in Brisbane?

As in other cities around Australia, the residents of Brisbane welcomed in the new year, the new century and the new nation on Commonwealth Day, 1 January 1901. The festivities planned for Brisbane were both formal and fun. Churches held services where official prayers were said for the new Commonwealth and for Queen Victoria. Governor Lamington had responsibility for reading the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia and the message from Queen Victoria to the Australian people.

The people of Brisbane were joined by those from surrounding districts and further afield, who had made the trip by train to see the processions and parades. Women and men were dressed in their finest clothes, and important businesses and public buildings of Brisbane were equally well decorated for the occasion.

Your Task

Explore the Federation celebrations in Brisbane.


  1. As a class, examine the photographs of Federation celebrations in Brisbane. Describe what you see, including what people are wearing, the decorations and so on.
  2. Choose one of the newspaper extracts describing a particular aspect of the Federation celebrations in Brisbane. Find others in your class who have chosen the same article and read it together carefully, underlining key words.
  3. Form new groups, this time ensuring that there is at least one person to represent each newspaper extract in the group. Describe to each other what was in the newspaper extract you have studied. Together, you should all arrive at an understanding of what happened throughout Brisbane on Commonwealth Day.
  4. Using the map of Brisbane’s central business district, mark with a number or symbol the different events, decorations and processions a visitor to the city would have seen on Commonwealth Day. Ensure that your map has a key, describing the significance of each number or symbol. How many different types of events were there?
  5. Share your group’s map with the rest of the class, describing the significance of the events that you have identified. As a class, discuss why the people of Brisbane decided to celebrate the new Commonwealth in the ways that they did.