In it's 130th year, Centennial Park – the ‘People’s Park – has been honoured with an Australian National Heritage Listing, elevating the Park to the status of other National Heritage places such as Bondi Beach, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Australian War Memorial.
Announced by the Treasurer of Australia, Josh Frydenberg and Gabrielle Upton, NSW Minister for Environment and Heritage, Centennial Park is the 115th place to be included on Australia’s list of pre-eminent heritage sites.
Centennial Park has outstanding heritage value to the nation as the site chosen for one of the defining events in Australia’s history: the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The inauguration event held at Centennial Park on 1 January 1901 was a key moment in Australia’s progression to a unified Commonwealth when the six colonies of South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland were brought together as one.
These actions marked the creation of a new democracy. From this moment, on 1 January 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia became a self-governing nation.
The ceremony began with the ‘Great Inaugural Procession’ through the city of Sydney, with some 10,000-people participating in a parade watched by an estimated 250,000 people. Remarkabely, there is video footage of the parade and innaguration. Below is a snapshot of the parade leaving Hyde Park.
The procession entered Centennial Park through the Paddington Gates and culminated in the part of the park now named Federation Valley.
The natural amphitheatre of Federation Valley, surrounded by rocky ledges and grassy hills, formed an ideal gallery which allowed hundreds of thousands of ordinary members of the public to witness the inauguration ceremony alongside the dignitaries.
The ceremony included the swearing in of: the first Governor-General of Australia, Lord Hopetoun; the Federal Executive Councillors; the nation's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton; and the first Federal Cabinet.
It took place at a temporary structure designed especially for the occasion, known as the Federation Pavilion. A permanent memorial now marks this spot and was formally opened. Read more about the Federation Pavilion monument here designed by Alexander Tzannes and opened in 1988 as part of the Bi-Centenary celebrations.
Centennial Parklands would like to thank the Australian Government for acknowledging and supporting the exceptional cultural and historically significant value of the Park, and the work it does to manage and preserve the heritage of the ‘People’s Park’.