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Historic Bathurst.

OF all the claimants for the distinction of the Federal Capital, Bathurst is the one place which possesses the subtle charm of historical association. Indeed, save Sydney itself, it is the one place in Australia whence cluster legends and traditions that cover the whole scope and period of Australian life. Dr. Johnson, in his tour through the Western Isles of Scotland, apostrophised Iona in undying words. “To abstract the mind,” he said, “from all local emotion would be impossible if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses—whatever makes the past, the distant or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and far from my friends, be such rigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent or unmoved over any ground that has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue.” Bathurst, like everything else that goes back to the beginnings of things Australian, has its own memories of sin, and shadow, and sorrow. But it has also, and more vividly recallable to-day, traditions of men and deeds that helped to make Australia what she is: an Australia great, prosperous, buoyant; the Australia of the Free Commonwealth. Actually founded in 1810, and named by the finely-energetic Governor Macquarie, on May 7th, 1815, in honour (as the fashion of the age was) of Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies, she was for a generation the lone outpost of Empire. From her went out expedition after expedition to conquer the wild. Men like Evans, and Mitchell, and Sturt walked where her pleasant streets now run, while they planned those longer journeys which were to link the halo of fame to their own names —while winning for spirits as bold and resolute as themselves a larger field for adventure and enterprise. With Bathurst is associated indelibly, as we have seen, Macquarie. The Founder and Father of the Settlement, it is one of the best monuments to his vigour of conception, and, in an age of official littleness, his statesmanlike ingenuity. In Bathurst moved men also of dissimilar types, but each in his way a Builder of the Commonwealth: Samuel Marsden and Robert Cart-wright, Fathers Therry, Ullathorne, McEncroe. Here, too, some of the first men who guided the tender plant of Education till it strengthened, and bid fair to reach the luxuriance it now enjoys, lived, worked, died. Bathurst has not only had as its teachers and its preachers, those among the prominent in Australian


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annals, but it has bred men who have made history in other parts of the continent, in Tasmania, and in New Zealand. Linked with it are great names in our legislative annals and in those of science. Wentworth— Deniehy—W. B. Clarke: these men worked for Australia; and their work lives. Then, the long list of men who have spoken here from public platform: a list we must not forget at the epoch of the Commonwealth founding—Lowe, the great Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lang, Dalley, Martin, Parkes! And then the wonder-working gold! Fifty years ago Bathurst was Australia to many hundreds of thousands in the Old World. The discoveries on the Turon, the “First Nugget”—these were incidents which were the commonplaces of talk in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Dublin, Paris, in 1851, and they centred in Bathurst! And so the continuity of a history more notable than of another in its effect in Australian development went on till Bathurst, when the Federal movement, then all but dead, revived it in 1896. Within four months of that Bathurst action, what was done? More than had been achieved within two years before! The People's Convention at Bathurst in November, 1896, Mr. Reid's visit to Queensland, the elections for the National Convention, the assembling of the National Convention in Adelaide, all followed in rapid succession, the impelling power being that of Bathurst. And then came the series of later conventions, of referendums, of conferences, and now the holding of the first Federal Parliament! The revival of Federation at the instance and cost of Bathurst, in 1896, led by immediate and direct steps to the noble fruitage of to-day. Had Bathurst done nothing else than achieve what she did in connection with Federation, she would be justly entitled to the proud cognomen of

  “Historic Bathurst.”




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Bathurst's Claims to the Federal Capital Site; OR, “The Case for Bathurst.”




  ― 08 ―
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