When you think of the most historically significant sites in Australia since European settlement, does Centennial Park come to mind? It should and here is why.
The ‘Centennial’ Park
Let’s start with the name.
The original name for Centennial Park was in fact ‘The Centennial Park’. The name comes from the reason for its creation – the celebrate the 100th anniversary of European settlement in the colony of New South Wales.
Opened in 1888, the NSW Premier Sir Henry Parkes gave a stirring speech:
“It is emphatically the people’s park and you must always take as much interest in it as if by your own hands you had planted the flowers; and if you take this interest in it, and if you thus rise to the full appreciation of its great beauty, and your great privileges, the park will be one of the grandest adornments of this beautiful country.”
OK, significant enough but what makes it truly significant to the nation is what came next.
Birthplace of modern Australia
On 1 January 1901 Centennial Park hosted the inauguration of the Federation of Australia.
What does that mean exactly? Centennial Park became the birthplace of modern Australia!
It was in the Park that the documents were signed, and the first Government of the newly created nation of Australia was sworn in.
What is fascinating about this is not only do images from the day provide an insight, but actual film footage of the day exists.
The first clip shows part of the official parade for the Inauguration of the Commonwealth as it passes through the temporary gate built especially for the occasion in Hyde Park, Sydney.
The second clip shows Sydney’s Archbishop, William Smith, welcoming Lord Hopetoun and Prime Minister Edmund Barton, and dignitaries to the swearing in of Australia’s first federal cabinet and for the reading of the Proclamation of the Constitution.
The third clip shows the large crowds gathered at Centennial Park.
Did you know?
This footage is believed to be the first moving images of a nation being created!