Investigation 3

How was the spirit of Federation captured in Victoria?

In 1898, Victorian school inspector, Carlton Football Club player and Federation supporter, Henry F Rix published the words and music to a song that he dedicated to the Australian Natives Association—‘Australia For Ever’. The song, as well as a poem Rix published, entitled, Australians! Rise and Federate!, were popular among those who had eagerly awaited the day that the six Australian colonies would federate and become the Commonwealth of Australia. ‘Australia For Ever’ was sung at celebrations on 1 January 1901, in several places around Victoria.

Your Task

Examine why ‘Australia For Ever’ captured the spirit of Federation in Victoria.


  1. As a class, read the lyrics of ‘Australia For Ever’ by Henry F Rix.
  2. Form small groups. Discuss the following questions about ‘Australia For Ever’ and record your answers.
    • Why might ‘Australia For Ever’ have been sung at federal gatherings and at celebrations for Federation?
    • Which aspects of the song refer to Australia and the emerging Australian values of mateship and a fair go?
    • Which qualities of the people and new nation does the song promote? Can you find examples of any of the nine Values for Australian Schooling represented in the song? To access this document, go to the Values Education website. Then, click on ‘National’, followed by ‘National Framework: Nine Values for Australian Schooling’.
    • Why might the song have appealed to those supporting Federation, in particular, members of the Australian Natives Association?
    • What might Rix have been referring to when he wrote, ‘Not might, but right shall rule the land’?
    • Do the words of ‘Australia For Ever’ reflect a modern Australia? Would you recommend the song to be sung at a State or national celebration today?
  3. Work with a partner to rewrite the lyrics of the song in contemporary language, to reflect how the same ideas might be expressed today. Share your version of the song with the class.
  4. Work with your partner to visually represent a line of the song. Different pairs could take responsibility for different lines. You may want to present your work as a piece of art, for example, a painted mural or a photographic collage, or as a digital presentation. Include the lyrics from the song in your picture. Display them in the classroom.