Coolgardie Day is the celebration of Arthur Bayley registering his claim for himself and William Ford, know thereafter as ‘Bayley’s Reward’, on the 17th of September 1892 at Southern Cross. It was the beginning of the Eastern Goldfields and was to spark the greatest gold rush in Australian history.
The Old Camp’ is truly the Mother of the Eastern Goldfields’ and has celebrated its birth right for most of its history.
By the end of WW1, the population of Coolgardie had dwindled down to about 350 residents.
It is not known at what point in time the celebration became known as ‘The Coolgardie Railway Picnic’. We do know that the Railways would put on a free train from Kalgoorlie to Coolgardie to celebrate Coolgardie’s birthday.
In line with Goldfields history, Coolgardie Day has had its rise and falls. The 1970’s under a very pro-active Council, saw the Day rise to old heights with the introduction of camel racing down the main street. Like all events in all towns, it was only as good as the economic environment and the people who give their time to create these special days. Time was again to see the Day shrink, but not to disappear.
In 1992, and again with the support of a very active Council, the Shire of Coolgardie brought together a good collection of its business and professional people with the intent to build the Day to a major attraction on the Goldfields. I was a foundation member of that Committee and at this point it became an incorporated body.
Over the years that were to follow, many in our community have worked hard for the cause of this event. Equally, to this cause, must go credit to the Goldfields corporate world, who has given so much financial support.
Today, Coolgardie Day enjoys the respect it is entitled to. It is the oldest event in the Eastern Goldfields. It is firmly etched on the West Australian Calender of Events and still brings people back to the Goldfields who have soft memories of their past.
Crowds of 10,000 plus have made Coolgardie Day a nice place to be.
Coolgardie Day’s future rests with having good minded citizens who will give their time to make it happen, an active Shire Council to be part of it, and, of course, the corporate, particularly mining companies, of our district to financially support it.
Today, Australians care about our history, and why not? We have earned it. And so the significance of the Day will rest with today and tomorrow
Victory Churchill Dale
A Past President