Celebrating Australia’s federation

On 1 January 1901 Australia became a united nation. The Advertiser reported that ‘The future greatness of the Commonwealth of Australia is no mere careless speculation or optimistic dream’.

South Australia was at the forefront of plans for the federation of the colonies from the time of responsible government in 1857. The first federal convention was held in 1891 in Sydney and then in 1897-98 conventions were held in Adelaide, then Sydney and Melbourne. South Australia sent ten delegates to these meetings, all of them experienced federalists.

Under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia the colonies relinquished some power to the federal government including the control of overseas relations, defence, customs, immigration, money, banking and other matters of general national importance.

Celebrations took many forms, including theatre performances.

History Trust of South Australia, HT 2004.921