Tin Can Bay Ceremony 1959

Switching on the Lights for Tin Can Bay, 1959

In 1959, residents, Councillors and representatives of Queensland’s electricity supply industry gathered together to welcome the coming of a reticulated supply of electricity to the small coastal area of Tin Can Bay. The Switching-On Ceremony was typical of many throughout Queensland. These events celebrate the symbolic dawn of a new era of technological advance and are a significant part of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

At these ceremonies, the oldest member of the community was given the honour of carrying the kerosene lantern for the last time. When the electric lights were switched on using the symbolic ‘switch’, the lantern was usually buried to signify the end of the old ways. Sometimes the lantern would be smashed instead of buried.  The celebrations were meant to encourage everyone to embrace the new technology and look forward to the future. 

The following images of the Tin Can Bay Switch-On Ceremony in 1959 show the people gathering in preparation for the event, the speeches being given to herald the arrival of the light, the oldest resident carrying the kerosene lantern, the ‘switching-on’ and the bright lights illuminating the seated audience.

Do you or someone you know remember this event? Would you like to contribute some memories?  Please contact the Director.