Centenary of Western Australia

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In 1929 the Western Mail published a Centenary Issue "2029 Perth" which included a 1929 artist's conception of what Perth would look like in 2029.

In 1929, Western Australia celebrated the centenary of the founding of Perth and the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the first permanent European settlement. A variety of events were run in Perth, regional areas throughout the state, and even across Australia such as the Western Australian Centenary Air Race.[1]

Preparations[edit]

In 1926, the 25th anniversary of federation passed without much recognition, due in part to the sense of isolation that help to form Western Australia's identity. There was limited acknowledgement from the other states of the unique circumstances of Western Australia's situation, due to what historian Geoffrey Blainey described as "the tyranny of distance". It was this isolation that helped focus the community on celebrating its centenary; later, it would also be the catalyst for a growing secessionist movement.[2][3]

Centenary pavilion at Royal Show Grounds

In 1927, the premier, Phillip Collier, asked Hal Colebatch to write a history of the state, and in 1929 A Story of a hundred years : Western Australia, 1829-1929 was published.[4]

A celebration committee began preparations in 1928, and in 1929 produced a number of publications including calendars of events.[5] As 1929 approached, most towns formed their own committees and organised events, these ranged from special race meetings to regional shows, formal dinners, dances and sporting events. Additionally some towns and community organisations also renamed existing local features like parks and buildings, while others set aside an area for a monument which was then unveiled in the presents of dignitaries including the Governor, Premier and descendants of the early settlers.

Celebrations[edit]

Crowd watching Sir William Campion at celebrations in August 1929, the placing of the Centenary plaque in the wall of the Perth Town Hall

Many locations in Western Australia had buildings or locations that became known as Centenary memorials; for example the Claremont Showgrounds has a Centenary Pavilion[6] that still stands, and Northam had a Centenary Hill.

Avenues of trees were planted in Kings Park in commemoration of the event as well as honouring people involved in the celebrations.

Perth[edit]

The main Centenary procession (1929 Centenary Parade) involved considerable preparation of floats representing commercial and regional attributes of the state.[7] It passed through the streets of Perth in the later part of the year as well as the Centenary Ball[8] and celebrations at the Perth Oval.[9] The Governor Sir William Campion presided at the placement of a plaque in the wall of the Perth Town Hall on Barrack Street that recorded the centenary celebrations in August.

Perth Town Hall Centenary plaque

In September, 1929, a choir of 1,000 voices sang at a Children's Thanksgiving Mass in Victoria Square, and also in a Centenary concert in His Majesty's Theatre.[10]

On 24 November 1929, the Kings Park War Memorial Cenotaph was unveiled by the Governor Wiliiam Campion to commemorate the fallen of World War One.[11]

Fremantle[edit]

One of the events organised was a re-enactment of the 1829 arrival of settlers at Fremantle,[12] attended by Campion.

Prisoner remissions[edit]

Remission of Prisoners' Sentences, The Age 9 October 1929.png

In October, the Premier, Phillip Collier announced that prisoner sentences of more than one month would be reduced at the rate of two days for each month of sentence remaining, after allowing for good conduct. Prisoners serving sentences during His Majesty's pleasure were excluded from the remissions.

Proximity to Depression[edit]

Western Australian historian Geoffrey Bolton ties in the events and the subsequent difficult times due to the economic depression in his book A Fine Country to Starve in (1972).[13] While more recently Annette Davis looked at the popular entertainment values of the era.[14]

Later celebrations[edit]

The subsequent major celebration was the sesquicentennial milestone in 1979 which was known as WAY '79. The 175th anniversary conducted in 2004 resulted in significant icons being identified but the celebrations of the event were of less impact upon the community at large compared to the 100th and 150th.

Legacy[edit]

A significant amount of the organisation of the celebrations was attributed to the librarian James Sykes Battye, whose efforts in organising committees were noted in the celebration year.[15]

Historical Society plaques[edit]

The centenary plaque on Chippers Leap

The Royal Western Australian Historical Society commissioned plaques that were ceremonially placed upon locations of significance to Western Australia. Locations included:

Centenary Hill plaque detail

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "East-West Air Race Ends". The Age. 7 October 1929. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  2. ^ "1929". Secession 1929-1939. Battye Library. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  3. ^ "Isolation 1929". Secession 1929-1939. Battye Library. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  4. ^ / Colebatch, Sir Hal (editor).A Story of a hundred years : Western Australia, 1829-1929 Perth, Government. Printer.
  5. ^ Western Australian Centenary Celebrations. Executive Committee. Centenary celebrations calendar 1929. Bulletins No. 2 & No. 4. 9 March 1929 - 17 October 1929 (held in Battye Library)
  6. ^ Photo and description of the Cenenary Pavilion
  7. ^ State Reference Library image
  8. ^ State Reference Library image
  9. ^ State Reference Library image
  10. ^ Anne Beeching (1988) Nancy takes the stick : the life of Nance, Contessa Filippini, ISBN 0-7316-3372-5
  11. ^ item 12 Memorials and Memories - Kings Park and Botanic Garden Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority
  12. ^ http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/images/pd041/041,348PD.jpg
  13. ^ Bolton, G. C. (1994) A fine country to starve inNedlands, W.A : University of Western Australia Press in association with Edith Cowan University. ISBN 1-875560-36-X Previous ed.: Nedlands, W.A. : University of Western Australia Press, 1972 ISBN 0-85564-061-8
  14. ^ Davis, Annette. (1990) Good times for all? Popular entertainment and class consciousness in Western Australian Society during the interwar years. Western Australia between the Wars, 1919-1939, p.68-79 - Studies in Western Australian history, Vol.XI
  15. ^ "The Man of the Week.". Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 20 June 1929. p. 4. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Battye, J. S. (1929) The centenary of Western Australia. Mutual Provident Messenger, No. 381, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3, 1 March 1929.
  • Kirwan, John, Sir, (1929) The centenary of Western Australia, London: Whitefriars Press