Investigation 2

How did South Australians outside Adelaide celebrate Federation?

From Yorketown in the south, to Palmerston (renamed Darwin in 1911) in the north, the people outside Adelaide held their own celebrations to commemorate the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. Although South Australia’s principal celebrations were held in Adelaide, the State’s rural communities ensured the historic day would long be remembered.

Country towns and regional centres celebrated Federation in their own ways. Flags were flown, banners and festoons erected, bands played and choirs sang. Local dignitaries and church leaders addressed those who had gathered together to celebrate. Sporting events, such as races and cricket matches, were popular activities at the local celebrations. Federation, it seemed, was popular everywhere!

Your Task

Discover how Federation was celebrated throughout South Australia.


  1. In groups of four, read aloud the newspaper reports of celebrations in the towns around South Australia.
  2. As you read each report, make a list of the kinds of people and community groups involved in organising the Federation celebrations. Why do you think they would want to be part of the celebrations?
  3. Make a list of the activities and events that took place in each town. Speculate on the reasons why some celebrations may have been more enjoyable and better attended than others. Look for clues in the newspaper reports. Compare your findings to those of other groups.
  4. In Yorketown, Rev. EH Bleby gave a speech, and in Petersburg it was Mayor GW Halcombe. Imagine you are one of these men. What would you say in your speech to commemorate Federation, the new year, and the beginning of a new century? Write your speech and share it with your classmates.