We’re travelling to Adelaide this week and going back to 1986 when South Australia celebrated their 150-year Jubilee. In that same year was another significant anniversary when the South Australian Unit of Australian Church Women (ACW) celebrated fifty years of women’s inter-church activities.
Many events took place to mark the 150 Jubilee and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was also present for the celebration. The South Australian ACW Unit participated in the Jubilee Flower Day procession*, and the Queen commended them for their float. This story was new to me, and it may be new to you as well. Fortunately, there is a short report in the National Archives of ACW, which alerted me to this historic ACW event. I found it in the April 1986 edition of Women at Work, the national newsletter of ACW.
Here is the report as written by Thelma Cunneen:
JUBILEE FLOWER DAY IN S.A.
To celebrate the fact that Combined Church women's involvement began in S.A. with a committee representing various denominations, appointed to organise a Float in the Centenary Flower Day procession in 1936, the S.A. Unit of A.C.W. entered a Float in this year's Flower Day procession.
‘A successful Film Morning with Trading Table raised $841 to finance the venture and a sub-committee worked very hard with the details of planning and execution.
‘Their efforts were rewarded when Felicity, a beautiful Clydesdale horse, stepped out in plume and flowers pulling the decorated cart with our A.C.W. Badge mounted on a pyramid of golden marigolds and ivy.
‘The two meter [sic] circles comprised a background of hydrangea petals, dried and stuck in place with 'AUSTRALIAN CHURCH WOMEN' picked out in orange daisies.
‘These surrounded the map of Australia formed by a mass of orange marigolds. The large Cross made of hundreds of tiny white daisies and fine silver ribbon radiated from the centre.
‘One badge was placed in front and another on the back. Underneath were the words–"UNITY, SERVICE, WORSHIP" with flowers proclaiming "50 YEARS 1936-1986".
‘Six members wearing gowns and bonnets of a bye-gone era carried baskets of small posies each with a text, and these were distributed to onlookers along the route.
‘"How Lovely" were the words of the Queen when she was presented with a posy. She later sent a message of commendation for the Float. We were surprised and elated to receive 4th prize – a silver cup and a Jubilee sash.
I think this is a very interesting story that all our ACW members would appreciate knowing. I looked at some old photographs of the Flower Day event that are available on various websites. The photos show quite spectacular displays, but you need to imagine the multitude of colours and flower varieties that painted the streets of Adelaide because, unfortunately, most of the photos are only black and white images.
If you have any photos or copies of news clippings of the ACW entries in either the 1936 or 1986 Adelaide Flower Day processions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*The first Flower Day event was held in 1936 for the South Australian centenary and, subsequently, it was held annually from 1938–1975. The ‘Adelaide remember when’ website has a page that gives a brief history of Adelaide’s Flower Day:
‘Flower Day started in Adelaide in 1938 and its original aim was to “promote Adelaide to the rest of the country and beyond the British Empire” and also to encourage homeowners to start planting gardens to beautify the streets of the rapidly expanding suburbs. For the next 37 years, Adelaideans showed great pride in their city by beautifying it with mass displays of flowers every spring.’
I also found an online video from a channel 7 news report that you may like to view at
If you look closely at the video, you will see more than one Christian organisation that had a floral exhibit on Flower Day.