Investigation 2

How did western Australians outside Perth celebrate Federation?

The referendum of 1899 clearly showed that there were different views about the colony joining the Commonwealth of Australia. For example, the ‘yes’ vote in Perth was not as strong as the ‘yes’ vote on the eastern goldfields, and in some farming areas in the west the majority of voters said ‘no’ to Federation.

However, the referendum was part of a democratic process – citizens of the colony could disagree about the issue put to them for a vote, but they would all abide by the result. This was clear on 1 January 1901, when communities throughout Western Australia held celebrations welcoming the beginning of the Commonwealth of Australia, even if the area had not supported Federation originally.

Perth may have hosted the State’s biggest celebrations, but judging by the festivities in Western Australia’s rural towns and regional centres, Federation seemed to be popular everywhere!

Your Task

Discover how Federation was celebrated throughout Western Australia.


  1. In groups of four, read aloud the reports of celebrations in the towns around Western Australia.
  2. Look at the referendum results for each town or region. From the result, what would you have thought people’s attitudes to Federation in each place might have been?
  3. For 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?
  4. Choose one of the four places described in the reports. Write a newspaper article or draw a cartoon, explaining the referendum result or the celebrations that took place. Speculate why people might have felt it was important to celebrate the democratic process of the referendum and join in the festivities even if they voted against Federation.