A MASSIVE parade, featuring entries from many villages and towns, was held as part of the festivities in Bathurst for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of Australia. Our photo this week shows an entry from Oberon: an elaborate float loaded with produce and products from the Oberon district. Oberon's other float was an authentic looking bark hut with an early settler outside on their land selection. Bathurst was fortunate to be visited by the NSW Governor Lord Wakehurst for the event in 1938, which was described as "a brilliant spectacle".
Bathurst was described at the time as the "Fairy City of Lights and Bunting" and the local newspapers covered the event in detail. The week-long celebrations drew many back to the city, with the Monday being a public holiday.
The two mile-long procession was just one of the highlights of the week, but it required the largest number of volunteers to organise. The procession took place on Monday, March 21, 1938, though it was the beginning of Bathurst's week-long celebrations. Mounted police led the governor in the parade, followed by the Royal Australian Airforce Band with a detachment of Airforce personnel. Then came C. Company of the 54th Battalion.
The Celebrations Committee organised an authentic Cobb and Co coach which was driven by Bill Maloney, an old Cobb and Co coach driver. The Australian Commonwealth float carried girls representing the Commonwealth and states, all carrying their individual emblems. The matron and nurses from Bathurst District Hospital entered a float, which was followed by Bathurst's up-to-date ambulance wagon.
Abercrombie Shire Council organised a group depicting the evolution of road-making from the wheelbarrow to the latest petrol-driven grader owned by the council. Four Roman chariots were made by the Bathurst Fire Brigade. The fire brigade also featured old pumps and hose reels, as well as its modern equipment. Other floats were included from the Country Women's Association, MUOOF, Junior Farmers and many others. The Bathurst District Band was about halfway down the procession.
The 'Diggers' float, all arranged by the Bathurst Sub-branch of the RSSILA, featured Britannia surrounded by veterans from the Sudan War, the Boer War and the Great War and by two nurses. The float had two men that had been part of the 1885 Sudan Contingent who left Australia for Egypt: Louis Charles Gronin and James Johnson, who were part of Bathurst's volunteers who went overseas.
Troopers A. Porter and Dewar represented the Boer War contingent and Privates E. Foster and Stan Davies represented those who fought in the Great War. Several troop detachments had been dispatched from Sydney to be part of the procession. Little did they know that Australia would be at war less than 18 months later.
The procession wound its way through several streets and under three archways designed by Trevor Jones, a local architect, and constructed by Mr W.H. Hooper. Pat Taylor decorated each of the structures. The mayor, Alderman M.J. Griffin, was the president of Bathurst's Celebrations Committee and Mr B. Gregg was honorary director. They were ably assisted by secretary Mr W.H. Hayes and treasurer Mr G.A. Stirling.
The governor arrived by steam train from Sydney well before the parade. Lord Wakehurst and the official party were driven from Kelso into Bathurst via Hereford Lane and the rock cairn in lower William Street before arriving at the council chambers ready to take the salute from the dais in front of the Town Hall and view the procession.
The official party included Mr J.N. Lawson, federal member for the Bathurst area; Gus Kelly, state member; Mr McKay, NSW Police Commissioner; Mr G. R. Thomas, director of education; Mr T.J. Smith, president of the Board of Fire Commissioners, Mr T.J. Hartigan, chief railway commissioner, and Mr C. R. McKerihan, Rural Bank president.