As we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II we look back at a visit to Whyalla in 1954 which drew in huge crowds from around the North and West regions to greet the monarch.
The Port Pirie Recorder, on March 22, 1954, gave a full account of the visit on its Page 1, complete with wonderful anecdotal asides of the events.
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More than 25,DUO people, including huge numbers from remote parts of the North and the West Coast, swelled the town's normal population of 8,500 to give Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh a rousing welcome on their l 1/2-hour visit to Whyalla on Saturday.
Outstanding impressions of the scenes on Memorial Oval, where a huge concourse was in position more than two hours before the arrival of the Royal plane from Parafteld, were the presence of about 6,000 children from Whyalla and other Northern schools, a party of 50 aborigines, in tribal regalia, from Yalata Mission, and a floral display of amazing beauty.
A delightful medieval touch was provided with the heralding by costumed trumpeters of the Royal car's arrival from the aerodrome at a majestic archway over the entrance to the town at Essington Lewis avenue, along which centre beds blazed with solid masses of pink petunias.
Decoration of homes and business premises along the route of the Royal progress and in other parts of Whyalla was a triumph of endeavor, the display by the local sub-branch of Returned Servicemen's League being outstanding.
Light rain fell early in the morning, but fine weather, with a cloudy sky, prevailed thereafter. There was a steady stream of vehicles into the town from an early hour.
A long line of cars brought people from Pirie, and six buses were fully loaded, while the motor vessel Morialta carried a complement of nearly 160 passengers across the gulf.
Excitement of the crowd first found voice when lusty cheers broke out as the thousands of children, ranging from the kindergarten stage upward, began to stream on to the oval in orderly lines.
About 2,500 boys and girls wearing tangerine hoods and capes formed into lines and outlined the words "Welcome to "Whyalla."
Other children made a ring round the arena, added color being given by brawn attire of Boy Scouts and blue outfits of Girl Guides. The big group of aborlgines added to the impressive spectacle.
There was a simmering air of i expectancy as the time for the coming of the Royal plane drew near, but the crowd relaxed when it was announced that the arrival would be about 15 minutes late.
All eyes were turned upward when the Royal twin-engined aircraft came into sight, circled the town and flew over the oval, where the Queen and the Duke saw the first words of welcome outlined. The plane was watched eagerly as it passed the dark background of Mount Young before it touched down on the aerodrome, where many people were waiting.
Entering an open car, the Royal couple drove between cheering, fIag-waving crowds along the route to the oval, passing through a guard of honor of former servicemen, which included a detachment from Pirie.
In a warm and spontaneous reaction, a wild burst of cheering resounded round the oval as the Queen and the Duke were driven into the arena to the Royal dais, near which the crowd was thickest.
As the Royal couple took their places the crowd, led by Whyalla Town Band, sang the National Anthem.
The Queen made a charming figure in a steel-grey taffeta coat fitting to the waist and full in the skirt.
It buttoned high in front.
A veritable bower of floral beauty was presented in the Royal enclosure, where the Royal Standard fluttered from the masthead. Gay coloring was provided by scores of boxes of phlox. Central theme was a large floral fan bearing the word "God Bless Our Royal Family."
The Queen smiled warmly when she looked out over the flower-bedecked oval at the thousands of children.
Making his address of welcome, Mr. C. L. Ryan (chairman of the town commission) pointed out that Whyalla was a new and modern town, possessing a unique form of local government.
The chairman said that Whyalla presented an outstanding example of decentralisation of industry, and of what could be achieved by collaboration between government and private enterprise.
In reply, Her Majesty praised Whyalla's contribution to the war effort of iron ore, munitions, and ... ships.
"We know that tremendous industrial development has accompanied the growth of Whyalla. Since the war days its industries have given profitable employment to many people and have made a most substantial contribution to the national economv of Australia," the Queen said.
Prolonged applause followed Her Majesty's remarks.
The big gathering of children thrilled everyone with their declaration of loyalty to the Queen, followed by the singing' of "The Song of Australia." Boy and girl leaders, of the various movements were mounted on rostrums in the foreground. Precision in obeying signals and whistles given to the children was faultless.
Margaret Ryan, 14-year-old daughter of the town commissioner, presented a bouquet to the Queen, the token containing Geraldton wax-an addition in event of curtailment of the Western Australian tour preventing her from seeing that Stale's native flower while there.
The address of welcome presented to Her Majesty had been prepared by Miss Eileen Walker, a former teacher of Whyalla Technical School, and was bound for Adelaide.
The Queen was presented with a set of play blocks for her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The blocks were made at Whyalla shipyards and painted by Miss Walker, who arrived in South Australia from England about five years ago.
Members of Whyalla Town Commission and representative citizens were presented to the Queen and the Duke.
One of the colorful figures presented was Mr. George Nicolson, an 87-year-old Northern grazier, whom persons nearby heard exclaim with vigor "Long Live the Queen."
He drew a smile from Her Majesty when he added: "We would be delighted to see you back again."
A primitive corroborée staged by the aborigines was most impressive, lasting about quarter of an hour. Described as a "plav" corroboree, the presentation was simple, but impressive.
The aborigines' skins had been treated with a brown stain and bore ceremonial stripes of white clay, and they wore tribal head-gear.
A group of singers, which included a one-legged native named Tommy, who had composed the corroboree dance, formed a circle in front of the-Royal dais, and the dancers advanced in single file from behind a leaf-covered screen on the opposite side of the oval.
Stamping their feet in time with the chanting of the singers, the advancing party formed themselves into a spiral as they moved sinuously, converging Into a mass and finishing with a loud "whoop."
The natives then ran to positions at the side of the arena, with Tommy moving smartlv on crutches.
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Mr H Gaden (superintendent ot Yalata Mission) said subsequently that the words of a sacred corroboree which, under tribal law, should not be divulged to any woman, had been given to Her Majesty with the natives' consent, but on the understanding that no other woman would hear them.
After having left the oval the Queen and the Duke were driven to Whyalla Hospital, where most patients had been moved into the' grounds. Both patients and assembled staffs had an unrestricted view as the Royal car drove past at slow speed.
The Queen and the Duke alighted at Flinders Memorial look-out. Here were more greetings from crowds in the streets as they were driven to the aerodrome.
II was announced over amplifiers at the oval that special parties had hunted kangaroos from the vicinity of the aerodrome, situated in saltbush country about four miles from the town, to obviate any danger from the animals during landing and taking off by the Royal plane.
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