Historical information

This invitation to a ‘Conversazione’ to celebrate the Federation of the six colonies in Australia into the six States of Australia in 1901 was sent to the invitees after the event to keep as a souvenir of the occasion. The event was hosted by the Government of Victoria. The certificate was designed by George Brougham Austin, a Melbourne architect and artist employed by the Victorian Department of Public Works. He also designed many of the public decorations displayed in Melbourne during the Federation celebrations. Austin’s original work was lithographed by an artist at Sands and McDougall, Melbourne. This particular invitation was sent to George Rolfe and his wife, Annie. George Rolfe (1836-1919), a tea merchant from Melbourne, began buying blocks of land near the mouth of the Hopkins River in Warrnambool in the 1870s. By the early 1880s he owned 50 acres of land in the town and some nearby farming properties. He used the building on the ]and near the mouth of the Hopkins River as holiday accommodation and called the property, Lyndoch. He improved the property with the additions of stables, jetty, boathouse, bone and chaff sheds, reservoir and windmill and extensive gardens. Rolfe spent most of his later life at Lyndoch. Today the property is the site of an Aged Care facility.


This certificate is of considerable importance for two reasons:
1. It is an important and attractive memento of a signal event in the history of Australia – the Federation of the States in 1901.
2. The certificate was an invitation to Mr and Mrs George Rolfe. George Rolfe was a prominent Warrnambool person in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Physical description

This is a multi-coloured certificate printed on a cream-coloured card. The certificate has an image of the Exhibition Building surrounded by an ornate border of heraldic shields, portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, views of the six capital cities of Australia, native flora and fauna, the Royal Crest and the Crest of Australia. The names of the invitees are handwritten in black ink.

Inscriptions & markings

‘United Australia 1901 One Flag One Hope One Destiny Australian Commonwealth Celebrations’
‘The Government of Victoria requests the honor of the presence of Mr & Mrs G. Rolfe at a Conversazione in the Exhibition Building on the Evening of Tuesday 7th May 1901 at 8 p.m.’