Resource Sheet 2

Celebrations in Toowoomba

An enormous attendance

Apart from the ordinary amusement provided for the public on New Year’s Day, the citizens’ quota to the celebration of the inauguration of the Commonwealth may be said to consist of a demonstration of the school children in the morning, the torchlight procession in the evening, followed by a grand concert, and individual efforts in the way of decoration, illuminations, and fireworks carried out by private citizens and business people…never was there a happier day in the annals of Toowoomba.

The children’s demonstration

As a spectacular effect the children’s demonstration was one of the features…The total number of children in the procession was in round numbers 2,400…

The route of the procession, which was lined with thousands of interested spectators, was by way of Ruthven Street and Campbell Street to the Royal Agricultural Society’s Ground, where the schools were formed up in massed battalion facing the Agricultural Hall, from which addresses were to be delivered…The National Anthem was then sung, to the accompaniment of the Gordon Band.

Mr. J. Fogarty, M.L.A, said he was pleased to see the children of Toowoomba had attended in such large numbers to do honor to the great occasion they were celebrating that day. Australia had now entered upon a new era and was now a united whole. In future, instead of describing ourselves as either Queenslanders, Victorians, or New South Welshmen, we would now one and all be Australians pure and simple…and he hoped the children would cherish the medals they had received and would always respect the good old Union Jack, the emblem of liberty.

the citizens’ demonstration—decorations, illuminations and torchlight procession (part one)

The citizens’ demonstration at night was a pronounced success…A crown at the Queen’s Hotel showed up prettily, and the decorations at the new Town Hall, prepared by the Gas Company, burned up very brilliantly all through the evening…

Mr R. Renwick had a large canvass in front of his place, on which was a map of Australia, across which was written “One People, One Destiny,” and it also bore the sentiment all could re-echo, “May federation prove prosperous.”

…But when the procession arrived at the short section of Margaret-street between the Neil and Ruthven street intersections, the best illuminations on the whole route were found. From each tree on either side of the street Chinese lanterns were suspended, and gave a very picturesque appearance to the street.

The citizens’ demonstration—decorations, illuminations and torchlight procession (part two)

[T]he general opinion of all who saw the illuminations on Tuesday evening was that the “Gazette” had eclipsed everything that had been previously seen in Toowoomba in this connection. The illuminations which were erected by Mr. R. Filshie consisted of the word “United” with the date 1901 running along the front of the balcony. This was surmounted by a representation of the Emu and the Kangaroo on either side of a plain shield, looking at each other instead of being turned away from each other as in the ordinary illustrations of the Australian shield…

Rockets and crackers were discharged from scores of points of vantage, and Quong Sang let off such a fusilade of crackers and other fireworks just as the head of the procession was passing his premises that the Mounted Infantry had some difficulty in managing their horses…

On arrival at the Town Hall the procession was disbanded in an incredibly short time, and hundreds of those taking part quietly found their way into the theatre, where a concert was to be held to terminate the festivities of the day.

The Darling Downs Gazette, 3 January 1901.

Commonwealth Day in Mackay

Commonwealth Day has come and gone and the inauguration of the federation of Australia has been accomplished. Here in Mackay, as elsewhere in Australia, the august event was celebrated with the heartiest enthusiasm. The weather was all that could be desired…

Flags and banners floated on all sides; the various places of business in the principal streets were draped in holiday garb, while private citizens responded heartily to the request to decorate their houses.

As Alfred-street was reached from River and Carlyle streets the decorations became more imposing. Two triumphal arches, the first near the railway gates and the second at the entrance to the park, were notable and appropriate…

Inscriptions proper to the day, expressing good wishes and voicing the unity of the destiny of the Australian people henceforth formed part of the triumphal arches…

Here were also banners and flags. Here too was the flagstaff destined to bear the Commonwealth flag and near which the inaugural ceremonials took place.

[T]here being probably not less than 4,000 persons present. Promptly and deftly the children were marshalled into place, and the naval brigade, the mounted infantry, the infantry, the naval cadets, and the boys’ brigade took up their position. Then came an imposing feature of the ceremonials, when the Mayoress hoisted the banner of federated Australia…

[L]ater on in the afternoon the young people were made happy by contests and races in which monetary prize rewarded the successful ones. The merry-go-round was an unceasing source of pleasure, and a stream of children flowed on and off during the afternoon…In the evening a large number of persons betook themselves to the park…the numbers rendered by the Mackay brass band and the naval cadets’ fife and drum band and a more or less successful corrobaree by certain…aboriginal citizens of the commonwealth were appreciated and the evening passed pleasantly.

Mackay Chronicle, 4 January 1901.

Hoisting the federal flag, Townsville, 1899

A view of a flag being raised in Townsville, 1899.

State Library of Queensland, 111683.

Referendum results for Toowoomba and Mackay

Electorate Voted ‘yes’ Voted ‘no’
Drayton and Toowoomba 869 1,084
Mackay 1,280 295

The Charters Towers Mining Standard, 4 September 1899.