Monday, 1 May 2006

Speakers Corner - May Day

Every Sunday, in a corner of The Domain, near the Art Gallery of NSW (background), speakers with a point to make set themselves up and have a go at espousing their views. This fellow had about ten people sitting on the grass being mildly entertained by what he had to say.

The "Speakers Corner" idea was inherited from Hyde Park in London. Compared to its heyday in the 1930s, and then again in the 1960s, Speakers Corner is a rather pale shadow these days.

Traditionally, May Day (International Workers day) rallies ended here.

You can read more about it here.


  1. Hi Sally,
    did my update of links today (man, you'll see for yourself that is not an easy thing to keep up with:)
    and ran across yours too.
    Welcome from the other end of the ocean; Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Looking forward to see more of Sydney!

  2. I love his equipment - the chair the bell and the red scarf.

  3. Yes, nicols - the step ladder is the traditional thing they stand on (used to be a soap box, but they are few and far between now! The bell is attract attention.

    Notice the flag? Different to the 'usual' Aus flag, which is of course blue. This is the red ensign. Officially it is used only at sea, but can be used by private citizens on land.

    This speaker was talkign about Australians' role in war, especially World War One. So:

    In 1914 all three flags, the British Union Flag, the Federal Flag and the Civil flag were all used. Some of the best indications of how the soldiers themselves thought of the flags is in the ensigns that are on display at the Australian War Memorial and the RAAF Museum.

    In the Australian War Memorial, the red ensigns on display outnumber the blue ensigns in the World War I period by about 10 to 1.

    More history if you are REALLY interested:

    "From 1901 to 1954 the Red Ensign was in practice, used as Australia's Civil Flag, i.e. the flag to be flown by private citizens on land. The Blue Ensign was for Government use only, reflecting British practice with its ensigns.

    The design of the Australian Red Ensign was always kept in step with the Blue Ensign (i.e. with respect to the number of points on the stars, etc.) but there was often public confusion about which was the `correct' flag to fly. Many thought the choice was merely one of fashion or preference.

    In 1941, Australia's Prime Minister Robert Menzies added to this confusion by directing that there should be no restriction on private citizens flying the Blue Ensign, though most people continued to use the red ensign. This Government consent was reaffirmed by Prime Minister Ben Chifley in February 1947. However, the confusion really wasn't ended until the Flags Act 1953 (enacted in 1954) gave legal effect to this directive, with the Red Ensign becoming reserved as the Civil Ensign. "

  4. soor, nicola (not nicols! typo)

  5. Hi Sally,
    Love your site! I had actually been looking up 'speakers corner' when I came across your interesting pics. Thank goodness for 'our' right to free speech, even if it does fall on deaf ears at times. Good on you for documenting such an important part of Syd!

  6. Thanks clare - yes you are absolutely right!