Back to town | State Library of New South Wales

Back to town events

In the first half of the 20th century, many rural municipalities held ‘Back to town' events to commemorate the founding of an area and to encourage old residents back to their hometown. Celebrations usually included a variety of events – from grand street processions and historical pageants, to carnival attractions and exhibition sporting matches. Local dignitaries would attend and the whole town would participate. Such events promoted the area, as well as boosting morale amongst the local community.

The Library holds many souvenir booklets published for these events. Ranging from small leaflets to more elaborate publications, the illustrated souvenirs usually included early histories of the local area, churches, schools and organisations, images of buildings and landmarks, as well as advertisements for local businesses. This Back to Goulburn souvenir featured an illustration by artist D. H. Souter which was used as the main logo for the Goulburn centenary celebrations in 1920. Souter's image of a dog arriving by train highlights the role railways had in country towns such as Goulburn, opening up rural areas for settlement and farming.

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Back to Goulburn centenary celebrations, 25th to 31st Oct. 1920. Printed. DL 92/1578

> View a selection of photographs from the Back to Cootamundra celebrations in 1926

Back to Cootamundra

Back to town events captured the hearts of current and former residents alike. Long-time Cootamundra local J. D. Sueur penned a poem for the occasion which featured in the souvenir publication: 'Back to Cootamundra Celebrations', 1926.

“Send a message to our kindred / In it, state the joy we seek,
'Tis the pleasure of their presence / Back to Cootamundra Week.

Ask them back to see the old town – / Show the many deeds we’ve done,
Then they’ll see the hand ne’er tired / Of the work which they begun …" 

('Back to Cootamundra', by J. D. Le Sueur, 1926)

Inspiring not only poetry, but music as well, ‘Bathurst – my old home town’ was a song arrangement of J. Naughton Harris’ poem, especially written for the Back to Bathurst week in 1924. The nostalgic lyrics recall his hometown of years gone by.

Back to Bathurst

“… When the velvet night is falling / In my heart where e’er I roam
I can hear the dream bells calling / From my far Australian home
They enthral my soul completely / with their changeful melody
Bathurst church bells chiming sweetly / In my home across the sea

Back to Bathurst in the morning / When the rosy sheen of dawn glows
‘Ere the bush birds hail the day / I’ll be well upon my way
For I know my old home town will welcome me…”

(Bathurst – my old home town. Sheet music, 1926)