Celebrations and Futures
What do poems and songs tell us about the significance of becoming a nation?
Resource Sheet 1
How and why were public buildings in Tasmania decorated for Federation?
Resource Sheet 3
How should Tasmanians remember and celebrate Federation today?
Additional activities and exercises to explore in the classroom.
New Year’s Eve fireworks had a special significance on the last day of 1900 because the beginning of the new year also marked the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia. The six Australian colonies had agreed to federate, and on 1 January 1901 they became States in the new nation. That morning, the newspaper in Hobart reported on the people who had gathered at Tasmania’s Parliament House to be part of the celebrations:
When they came Tasmania was a little isolated colony, when they left she was a living member of the Australian United Nation.
The Mercury, Hobart, 1 January 1901.
The official proclamation of the Commonwealth took place in Sydney. Tasmania’s Premier and many other officials attended this event. However, festivities and ceremonies throughout Australia all highlighted the significance of nationhood – the strengthening of relationships with the other States, the democratic principles that had brought them together, as well as shared feelings of patriotism. Some people even wrote poems and songs to commemorate the journey to Federation and the significance of becoming a nation.
Celebrations also highlighted the part that Britain played in Tasmanian life. The Australian nation was part of the British Empire and this was a source of great pride. For many Tasmanians, the most exciting occasion in the first year of Federation was not Commonwealth Day, but a visit later in 1901 by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, who came to Australia to open the first Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne.
Today, people of every State in the nation still celebrate Australia’s democratic traditions. The celebrations encourage us to reflect on the achievements of the past, to consider what we want for the future of our State and the whole nation, and think about which symbols and events represent Australia’s history and identity.
Tasmania has seen many changes and developments since 1901. What influence will they have on the way people of the State celebrate Federation today and into the future?