Sign In

Proclaiming the News

Text Size a a a Print Print this page

Proclamation of the new Constitution in Western Australia sparked an elaborate series of civic celebrations in October 1890.

People took to the streets to welcome the new Governor, Sir William Robinson, who was sent from London to supervise the change. He travelled by train from Albany to Perth. Townspeople en route lit bonfires and people gathered at railway sidings to celebrate his arrival.

In Perth, elaborate floral arches spanned the city’s main streets and buildings were decked with banners and flags.

Thousands of people gathered on the Esplanade in Perth on 21 October to celebrate the day’s events. The Governor made a congratulatory speech and the Proclamation document was read. The new Constitution was proclaimed before a cheering crowd.

Afterwards, the crowd feasted on tables piled high with food. There were sports with novelty events like ‘climbing the greasy pole’ and ‘catching the pig with a greasy tail’. At night, fireworks lit up the city and there were glittering balls and dances.

Newspapers boasted that Western Australia had finally ‘come of age’ and predicted that self-government would lead to progress and prosperity for all.

Governor Robinson travelled to Fremantle the next day. The port town’s celebrations were elaborate and included the ceremonial planting of a ‘Proclamation Tree’, that still stands today.  

Journey to Perth 1890The Proclamation was read out from this grandstand on the Esplanade
​Proclamation Day Fremantle
People lined High Street to celebrate Proclamation Day and the town was decorated with flags and bunting.
Courtesy Battye Library 2862B
Journey to Perth 1890
The Governor Sir William Robinson and other colonial dignataries on their way to Perth to proclaim the Constitution.
Courtesy Battye Library BA888/3
The Proclamation of the Constitution
The Proclamation was read out from this grandstand on the Esplanade, Perth on 21 October 1890.
Courtesy Battye Library 6886P