Centennial Park: (33° 53′ 52″S, 151° 14′ 6″E) is famous as the site of the official ceremony that marked the Federation of Australia and the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. Designated a ‘peoples park’ its history begins as the Lachlan Swamps in the 1830s moving to its 1887 Act of Parliament and, in 1888, its dedication by Sir Henry Parkes to mark the first century of European settlement. The Federation Monument marks the site of this event and now includes the Commonwealth Stone (the only remnant of the original 1901 building) and the Federation Pavilion (created in 1988 around the stone) to mark the bicentenary of settlement. More modern history includes the 2000 Sydney Olympics use of the park’s ‘Grand Drive’ in the marathon course. It is in the City of Randwick, about 4.5 km south-east of Macquarie Place — the start of the Great North Walk.
The Great North Walk Companion extract- page 152
January 1 1901
What a day we have had to be sure. We all rode early to the Centennial Park. Tens of thousands of guests, school children and general onlookers were there. The weather was not at all promising at first but became quite hot by noontime. A very much more inspiring celebration than the one I recall at the time of my first moving to Sydney in January 1888. I was most glad of my parasol that much relieved the discomfort of the sun. Still, one has to admit that the same bright sunshine did greatly glitter on the medals, buttons and scabbards of the military gentlemen who paraded very much today. We had eaten our luncheon picnic before the Queen Victoria’s Proclamation was read. Only then could Lord Hopetoun declare, ‘I John Adrian Lewis, Earl of Hopetoun, solemnly swear that I will truly and faithfully serve the Queen, so help me God.’
January 3 1901
The newspapers write of nothing but the swearing-in ceremony in the Park on the 1st. Are we ever to hear happenings other than this? I wonder for how many more days the reality of Australia becoming a federated nation will be thought to be ‘news’?