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Federation Story
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The history of Federation, the peaceful transition from colonies to Commonwealth and the major events that established the Commonwealth and shaped the nation are examined here in Federation Story.

There are many Australias, many Australian pasts and many ways of looking at history and we can't present them all here. Federation Story is intended as an overview to illuminate the larger picture and tell the wider story of Federation. To give a sense of the story we'll not only be using official documents but also letters, diaries, memories, photographs and images - the stuff of everyday history. The stories are presented in the seven sections below and each section is arranged into six categories for convenient navigation: Overview, Events, Places, People, Culture and Institutions. You can also view the stories that were contributed to our Guestbook.

Men on a horse and cart 1890

The Journey To Federation
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Nineteenth century campaigns for an Australian nation were punctuated by colonial rivalries and personality conflict. In the end, it was the voice of the people and a vote in the British Parliament that delivered nationhood.
Parliament sitting for Federation

Establishing The Commonwealth
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The story of the day, the city, the parade, the crowd, the dignitaries, and the grand ceremony in Sydney's Centennial park that formally inaugurated the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901.

Centenary  Poster of Woman and Flag

A Place In The World
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For the better part of a century, Australia relied on "great and powerful friends" for protection. Since the end of the cold war, the nation has been searching for a new regional identity and international standing.

Chifley greets new immigrants arriving in South Australia

Immigration And Nation Building
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In 1901, Australia's national identity was based on racial exclusiveness and legislation was enacted by the government of the day to keep it so. At the turn of the twenty first century, the nation's cultural diversity remains a hotly debated topic.

Aboriginal children, Barrow Creek 1901/02

Aboriginal Australia: The Unfinished Business
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The new Australian Commonwealth defined neither place nor purpose for the nation's indigenous population. The 1967 referendum gave Aborigines constitutional status and the search for justice and reconciliation began. (Photo: Aboriginal children at Barrow Creek NT. 1901/1902. Reproduced courtesy of Museum of Victoria)

Shearers in a factory

A Fair Go Economy
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Australia was founded on egalitarianism and the belief in a 'fair go' for its citizens, or at least for those of them with white skin. A hundred years later, Australia has reinvented itself as a less protective, more market oriented society.

Melbourne Centenary Of Federation Arches

The Centenary Of Federation
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The major events, celebrations, programs and activities commemorating one hundred years of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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