Image Invitation to Commonwealth celebrations, 1901

TLF ID R3206

This is a coloured printed invitation to a conversazione celebrating the Commonwealth of Australia. It measures 30.2 cm x 37 cm. At the bottom is the wording, 'THE GOVERNMENT OF VICTORIA requests the honor of the presence of Mr W J Ferguson MLA and Mrs Ferguson at a Conversazione in the Exhibition Building on the Evening of Tuesday 7th May 1901, at 8 p.m.'. This invitation was for the Australian Commonwealth celebrations during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, whose pictures appear on either side of the invitation. The words 'United Australia 1901 One Flag One Hope One Destiny' are inscribed at the top between various pictures of native flora and fauna. The badges of each of the states, together with pictures of the capital cities, surround a picture of Melbourne's Exhibition Building.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows an invitation from the Government of Victoria to a conversazione, or social gathering, in advance of the opening of the first Federal Parliament, held two days later in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne - W J Ferguson was a Labor member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
  • It displays an image of the Exhibition Building, built for the International Exhibitions of 1880 and 1888 - in 1880 the cultural, industrial and technological achievements of more than 30 nations were displayed and they attracted more than one million people over eight months; in 1888 the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition was held over six months to celebrate the centenary of European settlement in Australia and over two million people visited, double the population of Melbourne at the time.
  • It includes the symbols of Federation and of Australia's connection to Great Britain - the Exhibition Building is shown flying the Red Ensign and the Federation flag while the British coat of arms and an early version of the Australian coat of arms can be seen in opposite corners of the invitation underneath the Exhibition Building.
  • It shows the badges of the six states - the New South Wales badge at the top centre is the Red Cross of St George with four stars to represent the Southern Cross and a lion from the British coat of arms; the badge of Tasmania at the top right has a red lion; the Queensland badge at the bottom right has a blue Maltese Cross with a crown of St Edward at the centre; the Victorian badge at the lower centre is a crown of St Edward above the five stars of the Southern Cross; the South Australian badge at the lower left depicts Britannia meeting an Indigenous Australian; the badge of Western Australia at the top left has a black swan on a yellow background.
  • It includes paintings of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York - the Duke, later to become King George V, represented King Edward VII at the opening of Australia's first Parliament; the close association between the monarchy and Australia, as part of the British Empire and then the Commonwealth, is reflected by the provisional Parliament House in Canberra being opened by Queen Elizabeth II's father in 1927, while Queen Elizabeth herself opened the current Parliament House in 1988.
  • It is an indication of the degree of pride and formality present in the celebration of Federation - decorations, processions, celebrations and illuminations confirmed Australia's links with Britain, and transformed a potentially dull political event into a grand ceremonial and festive occasion.
Year level

1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Sands and McDougall
  • Organization: Sands and McDougall
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: G B H Austin
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
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  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements