Melbourne, Australia

madness in melbourne

Shortly after 11am on Saturday, August 29th, the fleet rounded Port Philip Heads to start the thirty-mile trip to anchorage in Hobson's Bay.  Unlike Sydney, Melbourne does not have headlands for spectators to view ships arriving.  Instead the people could watch the fleet's arrival from charter boats and vessels that met them miles out and stayed along side as they came into the bay.  The greeting was one that no sailor ever forgot.  Sailors were honored like heroes and enjoyed the favor of the citizens of Melbourne who invited them into their homes and shared a glass with them in every pub.  Melbourne was universally aclaimed the best port-of-call of the entire cruise.


Australia welcomes uncle sam and his fleet

This card is a an example of the greeting the American Fleet received in Melbourne.  "Dear Cousin, I am sending you this postcard as I thought you would like one of Uncle Sam.  Hoping all is well, Alex"


Collins Brothers & Company

C.B. & Company was a Sydney based card company.  Their cards show a map of Australia with "graphic" printed across it.  These two cards are shown welcoming the fleet with flag signals.  Whiskey, three, lima, one, oscar, mike, three.  W3LOM3.  WELCOME!!!


The Fleet arrive in Melbourne and anchored in the harbor.  Steam launches towed liberty boats to the pier where sailors disembarked to the City.  At right is a card showing Admiral Sperry inspecting the guard of the British Navy.  The card is canceled in Melbourne, but it might be from the earlier visit in Sydney,  (any help here)


australia welcomes america

The thought and sentiments expressed by the people were evident in the materials that were produced for their visit.  At left a photo of the American Fleet at sea with signal flags spelling out W-E-L-C-O-M-E.

The illustration at right with an Australian Gal making "eyes" with an American Bald Eagle.

Music was written for the occasion including the patriotic march song titled "The Sons of Uncle Sam with a  nice illustration of the fleet in a life saver.



the town hall reception

In honor of the visiting fleet, Sir Henry Weedon, Lord Mayor had a reception at the Town Hall on September 1st, 1908 inviting the officers of the fleet and local dignitaries.  

The town hall is central in the city located at Swanston and Collins Street.  It was completed in 1867 and was used for concerts, theatrical plans, exhibitions, and receptions.  The main auditorium includes a concert organ, now comprising 147 ranks and 9,568 pipes.  It was built in 1929 and recently rebuilt and enlarged by Schantz Organ Company of America.


the melbourne parade

At 10 am Monday, the 31st, crewmembers from each of the ships disembarked at Town Pier and marched, by way of Beach Street, Bay Street, Raglan Street, Lyell Street, Bank Street, Clarendon Street, Albert Road, St. Kilda Road, Swanston Street, Bourke Street, William Street, Collins Street, Spring Street, Evelyn Street and Nicholson Street to the Exhibition Building.  Right and Left are real photo postcards of the event.


Rose Stereograph 12,872 001
Rose Stereograph Box

the rose stereographs company

George Rose was a prolific photographer and businessman working from Melbourne and taking pictures around the world.  He started out producing stereographs and later postcards.  He captured some of the best photographs of the American Fleet during their visit to Melbourne and Sydney.  The quality of his work is widely recognized.  To see my collection of his sterographs select the image above.


cards from chief electrical charles stotz, uss illinois

This group of cards are some of the many cards Charles Stotz sent home to his family.  The entire collection of 96 cards are on the website at the link:  Charles Stotz Cards.


Souvenir of the American Fleet's Visit to the Commonwealth of Australia 1908.  This booklet was published by the N.S.W Bookstall Company.  I included a variety of photographs of the ships, admirals and events.  Photographs of President Roosevelt sending the battleships off from his yacht the Mayflower and thoughts from King Edward:  "Descended from a common ancestry, offshoots from the same sturdy  parent stem, the American and the Australian are one in their language, ideas, sentiments, and aspirations, and, whilst each is working out his own salvation in ways that may differ in detail, the ultimate aim of the two nations is practically the same."  Below is the 6-foot panorama that is included within this booklet.


Melbourne Program Page 1 001

Above is the official program for the Fleet's visit to Melbourne.  It includes the entire itinerary for the official events scheduled and the names of officers from the ships, local people associated with events, and a map of the downtown area.  It was quite a vigorous schedule for someone who wanted to keep up with attendance to all of the planned events.  


roosevelt - dudley- sperry

William Humble Ward, (maybe not so "humble") 2nd Earl of Dudley was a British aristocrat, politician, and military officer who served as the fourth Governor-General of Australia from 1908-1911.  From Wikipedia, "His extravagance and pomposity made him unpopular among the general public, and his attempts to interfere in political matters rankled both prime ministers he worked with (Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin). Deakin regarded him as doing "nothing really important, nothing thoroughly, nothing consistently [...] very ineffective and not very popular".  (ouch!)


M. S. Series postcard

This series of cards was issued for the Fleet's visit and features the American and Australian Flags over a scene from around Melbourne.  In 1908 the publisher M. S. Series, Murray Studio used "a canvas structure that was erected at the back of the premises did service as a photographic room."  This quote from an issue of the Gympie Time in 1941 described the humble beginnings of Murray Studios by Fred Murray.  In 1929, determined to keep his company and staff together during the hard times of the Great Depression, Fred created a new Department and called it Murray Views. He proposed to supply postcards of local views to neighboring holiday centers.   Many of these glossy cards were boldly hand colored.  Over the next 10 years, Fred Murray expanded the business into North Qld, NSW and as far as Adelaide. Today Murray Views Pty Ltd is still one of the foremost producers of postcards and souvenirs in Australia.  The M.S. Series of the Fleet's visit has 21 cards.  (Thanks for the Historical Support from Les in Melbourne)


souvenir and official program american fleet reception             victoria 1908

This booklet contains the schedule of event for the fleet's visit, but it is mostly advertising.  Some of it is very nicely done with artwork for the fleet visit.  There is also a nice page for President Roosevelt and Admiral Sperry, but there is a single page of the fleet with all of the ships on one page.

It does give a very good idea of what the economy was like and what were the primary business of the city.  It is an interesting point in history where on one page there is advertising for cars, and on the opposite page there is advertising for horse saddles!

There is a nice page for the theaters  of Melbourne showing the six main theater buildings.  There is also a page for all of the main churches of Melbourne.


Victoria prepared like no other event for "Fleet Week," producing sixteen thousand copies of maps, guide books, railway schedules and souvenir programs printed and distributed to the ships' crew to show them Melbourne.  Hundreds of thousands of people swarmed into the city and Williamstown to see the fleet, meet the sailors, and watch the parade.  The Victorian Railways offered discount excursion trains from country centers, and free travel to the sailors carrying a record number of passengers this week.


advertising cards

Many business took the Fleet's visit as an opportunity to advertise their business.  At left, Cuming Smith & Company, manufacturers of high-grade manures, acids, rabbit poisons, and other things.  At right Wolfe's Schnapps create a knock-off image of Henry Reuterdahl's painting of the Fleet in the Straits of Magellan, February 8, 1908.   

Wolfe's Schapps, a Holland gin was purely for medical reasons.


tye & company

With compliments from Tye & Company, House Furnishers at 6 locations around Melboure.  Allan and George Tye operated one of the largest house furnishing houses in Australia.  Allan and his brother George left Canada around 1894 to make a name for themselves in Melbourne.  They started a furniture company and made a fortune.  George died in 1930 and his wife went to visit extended family in Oxford, Ohio.

ward bros. sewing machines

This fleet souvenir of the USS Alabama, (not with the Fleet, was left in San Francisco after first leg) was the Ward Brothers Sewing Machine Company, "Australia's Greatest Sewing Machines."  They were located in North Melbourne and started sometime before 1897 by importing sewing machines from England and Wertheim and mounting them on their own cabinets.  The A.N.A was their biggest selling machine and became part of their logo.  Later they purchased machines from Japan, England, Germany and America.


souvenir from the people of victoria

This was a front and back fold out card that introduced Victoria, "God's Own Country" to the Fleet.  It included a map showing Victoria, some facts, significant buildings of Melbourne and a full page portrait of Sir Thomas Bent, Premier, Treasurer & Minister of Railways.  On the front are small portraits of Admiral Sperry, President Roosevelt, the Governor of Victoria, Chief Justice, and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne.


banquet by the commonwealth of australia to admirals and officers

The largest planned event was the banquet given by the Commonwealth of Australia to the Admirals and Officers of the American Fleet on August 31, 1908.  This event was held at the Parliament House and attended by more than 350 officers of the fleet and dignitaries.  Below are various items including invitations, admit tickets, seating chart and index of guests.

This greeting card was issued as postal stationary in a "one penny" and "three halfpence" denomination.  The first for local mailing and the latter could be mailed back to the States or other countries.



These cards were sent home by Frank Lesher to his Mother and Father back in Pennsylvania, Bourke Street,  Queens Bridge, The Government House, the Botanical Gardens, and the Parliament House.  It is interesting that two were sent with American postage, postmarked in Seattle at the Worlds Fair.


reception and grand concert

On September 2nd, there was a concert sponsored by the Government of  Victoria in honor of Rear Admiral Sperry and the Officers of the United States Atlantic Fleet at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

The program included pieces from the combined Choirs of the Melbourne Philharmonic Society, The Victorian Festival Choral Society, and the Women's Choir accompanied by the Combined Societies and Orchestra and the Riley's Military Band.

Selections included "The Stars and Stripes for Ever", "The Merry Widow?, "American Grit", and, of course, "Good Save the King."


naval and fire brigade display

The ticket at left is for a reception at the North of the Aquarium Building for the 3rd of September, at 8 p.m. to view the Naval and Fire Brigade Display.   The Aquarium Building was part of the Royal Exhibition Building which had hosted two major International Exhibitions in 1880 and 1888.  In 1901 it opened the first Parliament of Australia.

The display most likely showed the equipment and abilities of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) which provided firefighting, rescue, and medical response to the metropolitan area of Melbourne.  Volunteer fire brigades were formed in the City as early as 1845 and by the 1890s there were 56 volunteer brigades in Melbourne.



This was an interesting dinner given by the Government of Victoria in honor of the Journalist accompanying the Fleet of the United States of America at the State Parliament House on August 29th.

This was probably a good opportunity to make sure that the people who were putting out the message back to the States said the right things about the visit.


melbourne bicycle club

Bicycling became a popular Victorian sport and in Melbourne the MBC was formed in 1878 holding its first ride from St. Kilda to Mordialloc.  Groups like this paved the way to establishing a policy and progress towards integrating bicycles into the transportation plan of the City of Melbourne.  This card was presented to Midshipman Lofquist, USS Connecticut as an Honorary Member of the MBC.  To view the entire collection of items, click this link.


the glaciarium

The Glaciarium was a "real ice skating rink" located at the Princes Bridge (below).  It published this special program of events for Fleet Week including an Orchestra with exhibits of fancy skating and Waltzing nightly.

The Glaciarium operated from 1906 to 1957.  Henry Newman Reid, a refrigeration engineer from Melbourne built the facility.  It has 14,500 sf of rink and was one of the larges in the world at the time.  For more information follow this link.  The Glaciarium

Victoria Welcomes the American Fleet!!!  This was a series of cards published by the State of Victoria for the Fleet's visit.  The collection of the cards can be found on this website at the following link:  Victoria's Welcome



farewell luncheon

On September 4th, after a very successful port visit, Rear Admiral Sperry and the Officers of the Atlantic Fleet were treated to a farewell luncheon by the Government of Victoria at the State Parliament House in Melbourne.  Complete with toast to the King and President, it was a light fare of chicken and sausage, fondue and pudding.

God Speeds




American Fleet's visit to mirboo

On September 1, 1908 sailors of the fleet made the long trek out to Mirboo North in Est Gippsland to see the countryside of Australia.  There they were greeted by well-wishers showing off their skills at wood chopping and boomerang throwing. Sports competitions were held, but  the main event was a dinner prepared for the fleet that included roast turkey, fowl, pork, beef, ham and ox tongue, lobster, and an array of traditional deserts.  

There were three toast given at the meal, To the King, To the United States, to The Federal and State Parliaments.

The Mirboo Program at right survives.  It was sometime in its life attacked by bugs but now has found a safe home.  This is the only one I have come across through generosity of a fellow 'feet' collector of Melbourne.  The cover illustration is quite nice!



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