Townsville’s centenary celebrations in 1964 opened with vice-regal patronage at the Centenary Community Fair conducted by the National Council of Women. Lady May Abel-Smith, wife of the Queensland Governor Sir Henry Abel-Smith, officially opened the fair after making her way through a guard of honour formed by several female youth organisations.
The Townsville Daily Bulletin reported that the fair provided an auspicious start to the centenary celebrations, and that people “thronged Hanran Park” for the fair, held on Saturday, 31 October.
In a speech welcoming the Governor’s wife, Mrs KJC. Back, who was president of the National Council of Women, said that the organisation had decided to hold the fair as a contribution by the women of Townsville to the city’s centenary celebrations.
Lady May, for her part, said it seemed most fitting at this time of the city’s centenary celebrations to have such a gathering of worthwhile and important women’s organisations, as they were so much a part of the modern way of life.
“They are so necessary to the community itself, catering as they do for so many needs, covering a very wide field of women’s activities,” Lady May said.
Lady May reflected that there must have been very few women’s organisations in the city’s pioneering days, noting:
“We are so used to them now, depending upon them and calling on them to help us in times of need.”
A highlight of the community fair was a fashion parade depicting fashions “through the ages”. Styles ranged from “the cave girl to the space woman; from the Elizabethan court lady to the women of Colonial America, the Charleston era and the modern nurse”.
As well as displays and stalls, entertainment was provided by the Highland Dancers, the Junior Fife Band, the Highland Band, marching girls and the Christian Brothers’ Band. Children enjoyed puppet shows, pony rides, trampolines, miniature trains, a merry-go-round and lucky dips.
|Centenary Fair, conducted by the National Council of Women, Hanran Park, Townsville, Saturday, 31 October 1964.|
Photo: Alex Trotter, held by Townsville City Libraries.
The Jaycettes - the female auxiliary of the Jaycees service club - hosted a miniature sand garden competition, which was judged by Mrs Joan Innes Reid, social worker at the Townsville General Hospital, who became Townsville’s first female city councillor in 1967.
Other major events staged in the city to celebrate the centenary included a Pioneers Dinner, held at Jezzine Barracks - where 311 of the city’s over-70s dined with the Governor and his wife and other distinguished guests. An elaborate “Pageant of Progress” was held at the Sports Reserve where more than 100 costumed performers highlighted “spectacular developments” in the city’s first 100 years.
Civic pride in the city’s progress since its foundation was running high, and the Bulletin noted that despite lacking in such natural advantages as a plentiful supply of water or a ready-made deep-water port, Townsville had “nevertheless overcome these disabilities” through the “sheer determination of its earlier pioneers”.
The Bulletin proudly reported that the port of Townsville was now the busiest port in Queensland, outside of Brisbane. The port posted a record year for the year to 30 June 1964, handling a total of 925,677 tons of cargo, which was an increase on the previous year of approximately 23 per cent.