Looking back 100 years to a winter’s Australia Day

Fundraising ribbon for Australia Day, 30 July 1916. Photo: Australian War Memorial

AUSTRALIA Day has been known by several names; but not too many dates.

The national day has been observed on January 26 as far back as 1808, but it is interesting to note in 1915, Australia Day was moved to support the war effort during World War I.

The nation switched gears from the January celebration.

Accounts differ, with some stating the date was shifted to raise funds for wounded soldiers, while others explain the day was meant to boost the war chest on the back of the enduring Australian pride in the bravery, deeds and sacrifice of the Gallipoli soldiers and the national pride of being Australia following Federation.

Here are just a few excerpts from The Inverell Times in 1915 about some of the district preparations and reflections on the day:

Friday, July 2, 1915

Australia Day at Graman

There will be a big meeting held at Graman tomorrow evening of the purpose of making arrangements for the fitting celebration of Australia Day. As already announced, it is intended to hold a good programme of sports and an effort will be made to double the receipt of Belgian Day. Everyone is already active, and Graman’s effort will be far from discreditable.

Australia Day: Ladies of Inverell make excellent arrangements

In connection with Australia Day, the Public Meeting called by the Mayor (Mr GB Ring) for ladies in the Council Chambers, on Wednesday evening, was very largely attended, about 57 ladies being present. The Mayor presided and was supported by one of the Secretaries of the Australia Day movement, Mr. AF Avern, who placed before the meeting full information as to what had been decided at the afternoon meeting of the Executive Committee.

Tuesday, July 13, 1915

Australia Day

There will be a Euchre Party and Social held at the School of Arts Hall this evening in aid of the above.

It is being held under the auspices of the Catholic Literary and Debating Club, and the Very Rev Dean O’Neill is very anxious for its success.

Speaking on the object in view at all the services on Sunday last, the Dean said the Australian troops in the Dardanelles had covered themselves, with glory, and the very least that could be expected of the people was that they should do all in their power to make Australia Day a great success, so that the comforts and needs of our wounded soldiers may be adequately provided for.

The cause for which they were fighting was a noble one, and the bravery of the troops was worthy of the highest traditions of the race.

Tuesday, July 20, 1915

Australia Day Fund

The Australia Day Fund has now reached £75,000 in New South Wales.

Friday, July 23, 1915

Australia Day minutes of the executive committee

Re Raffles: It was decided, in view of the large number of raffles already promoted, that it should be left to the discretion of the secretaries as to whether further raffles should be sanctioned.

Friday, July 30, 1915

Ross Hill Public School: Celebration in aid of Australia Day, Dardanelles Fair and Concert

The celebrations on Tuesday afternoon at the Ross Hill Public School grounds, in aid of Australia Day movement must have been very gratifying for teachers and others who exercised their talent and ingenuity in the preparations.

At the opening in the afternoon, the scholars sang a number of choruses very nicely, and the arrangements having been completed, visitors began to arrive.

Patriotic cake

Mrs Geo. Anderson is raffling a very fine cake in aid of the Australia Day fund.

The cake was sent to Mrs Anderson by Mrs Ida Heath of Sydney. A kangaroo, emu and other appropriate designs are worked on the cake, which may be seen in Bartle’s window.

Imperial Pictures

Mr Upham is generously assisting the committee of the Australia Day movement by showing, in conjunction with the grand concert programme, a good laughter-making Keystone comic, entitled ‘Toplitsky & Co’.

Tuesday, August 3, 1915

Australia Day: Inverell’s Big Effort, over £5000 raised

When the committee of the Australia Day movement in Inverell decided to hitch its wagon (sic) to a star, they never had the ghost of a hope they would reach it; but the collection even surmounted it.

Friday last will be a day long remembered in Inverell; and throughout Australia for the response everywhere, more than fulfilled the anticipations of the most ardent workers.

Tuesday, August 17, 1915

Australia Day Bonshaw

The final meeting of the Australia Day Fund Committee was held at Bonshaw on Saturday, 7th August, Mr. G. Phifer, president, occupying the chair.

The balance sheet, which was adopted on the motion of Mr. G. Phlfer, showed a credit balance of £259.

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