Investigation 3

How and why were public buildings in Tasmania decorated for Federation?

Federation wasn’t only celebrated through special events and ceremonies. People also created pieces of writing, objects and images to symbolise nationhood and their feelings about the colonies uniting. Throughout Australia, one of the main ways of marking the birth of the Commonwealth was the decoration of public buildings.

What kinds of decorations do you think Tasmanians would have chosen? What messages about Federation do you think they would have wanted to convey?

Your Task

Investigate how public buildings in Tasmania were decorated for Federation.


  1. Examine the photograph of the Tasmanian Parliament building and read the newspaper extract describing its decorations. Classify the decorations under headings such as words, places and symbols. Discuss the following questions as a class.
    • What messages are the decorations conveying?
    • What aspects of Australian identity were important enough to be celebrated at the time of Federation in Tasmania?
  2. Read the newspaper extract describing the lack of decorations around Hobart. Discuss the following questions as a class.
    • Why would it have been difficult for people to think of ways to decorate for Federation?
    • What street decorations do you think would have been appropriate at the time? Brainstorm ideas and list them on a large sheet of paper.
  3. Working in pairs, draw a plan for decorating a public building to celebrate the anniversary of Federation. Remember that you will need to sketch your ideas for all four sides of the building. Take care to include national symbols, State emblems and words.
  4. Use a box to create a model of your decorated building for the anniversary of Federation.
  5. Write a short caption for your model explaining the decorations you have used. Display your decorated buildings.