After months of planning, Saturday February 24, 1923 was the first day of the “Back to Hamilton” celebrations, an event which ran until the following Sunday, March 3.
A variety of activities were planned including band recitals, back to school visits, ancient and modern dance socials and terrier coursing.
Visits to beauty spots around Hamilton were a feature as were “picture entertainments” . I wonder if that included films of “Beauty Spots” as proposed in the following article. Such a film was discussed during a meeting of the National Roads Association who were looking at development of roads through the Grampians to enhance tourism . It was thought that a film would be a way to show off the area and reinforce that good roads were necessary throughout the Grampians. It was suggested the film be screened during the “Back to Hamilton” celebrations.
Over the first weekend, Hamilton was full and visitors were enjoying the celebrations in fine weather.
Many visitors arrived by train and were welcomed by bands playing “Home, Sweet Home”
Crowds gathered in the Hamilton Botanic Gardens to listen to band recitals in the bandstand on Sunday February 25. On the following Tuesday, children gathered in the gardens for sports.
Councillor Noske spoke to the gathering declaring “Hamilton was destined to become a great town” and the council’s focus was on closer settlement. A parade was held on the Tuesday afternoon which included Thomas Cawker of Casterton driving a four-in-hand coach, old pioneers his passengers.
The “Back to Hamilton” was a roaring success, with a profit of £189/11/9. A very healthy sum for an event which one would imagine was not for profit. I wonder where the money ended up?
It was during the following year, 1924, when a committee formed to organize a “Back to Horsham”, gave some clue how such a big profit came about. While a similar event in Stawell was mostly subsidized, Hamilton visitors were charged for many events, including a trip to a dry Wannon Falls.