Centenary of Western Australia

In 1929, Western Australia (WA) celebrated the centenary of the founding of Perth and the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the first permanent European settlement in WA. 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]

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.

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, Philip 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 presence of dignitaries including the Governor, Premier and descendants of the early settlers.

Other events held in Perth in 1929 edit

In April 1929 there was a demonstration held in Perth of fire brigades from around the country.[6]

In June 1929 there was the Australian national general Methodist conference.[7][8]

In July 1929 there were interstate football games held in Perth.[9]

Centenary 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 Municipality of Fremantle built a Centenary Building, the Claremont Showground has a Centenary Pavilion[10] 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.

The Perth Branch of the Royal Mint produced a commemorative medal.[11] Most of the 85,000 medals struck were bronze, and the majority were given to Western Australian school children. 900 silver medals were also made, as were 3 gold medals.[12]

12 August 1929 edit

Perth Town Hall Centenary plaque

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.

Centenary Celebration Period edit

The Centenary Celebration Period was designated as 28 September 1929 – 12 October 1929.

Despite a range of events involving various national bodies in the year, the specific main event was the 1929 Centenary Parade, which was held on Wednesday 2 October (which had been made a public holiday) and known as the Historic and Industrial Procession, passing through Perth.

2 October 1929 edit

Wednesday 2 October 1929 was a public holiday in Perth.

The main Centenary procession (1929 Centenary Parade) involved considerable preparation of floats representing commercial and regional attributes of the state.[13][14] It passed through the streets of Perth.

The Centenary Ball and celebrations at the Perth Oval were also held.[15]

The afternoon at Perth Oval on the same day was the site of a Naval and Military Tournament.

Subsequent events edit

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.[16]

On 24 November 1929, the Kings Park War Memorial Cenotaph was unveiled by the Governor William Campion to commemorate the fallen of World War I.[17]

Fremantle edit

One of the events organised was a re-enactment of the 1829 arrival of settlers at Fremantle,[18] attended by Campion.

Prisoner remissions edit


In October, the Premier, Philip 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).[19] While more recently Annette Davis looked at the popular entertainment values of the era.[20]

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.[21]

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

Publications edit

  • Colebatch, Hal Sir, 1872–1953 (1929), A Story of a hundred years : Western Australia, 1829–1929, Fred. Wm. Simpson, Government Printer{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • Kirwan, John Sir (1929), The centenary of Western Australia, s.n.
  • Western Australian Centenary Celebrations. Executive Committee (1929), Souvenir programme : Western Australia's centenary, 1829–1929, Issued by the Centenary Celebrations Executive Committee
  • Wilson, J. Graham (1929), Western Australia's centenary 1829–1929 : first century's progress with antecedent records, 1527–1828, Historic Press

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "East-West Air Race Ends". The Age. 7 October 1929. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  2. ^ "1929". Secession 1929–1939. Battye Library. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Isolation 1929". Secession 1929–1939. Battye Library. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  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. ^ "VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGADES". The Register. Adelaide. 13 April 1928. p. 14. Retrieved 23 May 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "GENERAL CONFERENCE, PERTH". The Methodist. Sydney. 15 June 1929. p. 5. Retrieved 23 May 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ The Methodist Church of Australasia ninth general conference : souvenir, Methodist Church of Australasia General Conference, 1929, retrieved 23 May 2015
  9. ^ "FOOTBALL". The West Australian. Perth. 26 June 1929. p. 5. Retrieved 23 May 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Photo and description of the Cenenary Pavilion[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Glenn Burghall (13 October 2014). "Western Australian Centenary 1929 Medal (part 1)". The Perth Mint. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  12. ^ Glenn Burghall (15 October 2014). "Western Australian Centenary 1929 Medal (part 2)". The Perth Mint. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  13. ^ State Reference Library image [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ State Reference Library image[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ State Reference Library image[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Anne Beeching (1988) Nancy takes the stick : the life of Nance, Contessa Filippini, ISBN 0-7316-3372-5
  17. ^ item 12 Memorials and Memories – Kings Park and Botanic Garden Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority
  18. ^ http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/images/pd041/041,348PD.jpg[bare URL image file]
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ 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, pp. 68–79 – Studies in Western Australian history, Vol.XI
  21. ^ "The Man of the Week". Western Mail. Perth. 20 June 1929. p. 4. Retrieved 20 November 2012 – via National Library of Australia.

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