Sydney, Australia

                                        If Auckland had given a great welcome, Sydney was not to be outdone.                             The people of Australia were ready.

The fleet's welcome began before daylight on the morning of Thursday, August 20th with site-seers coming out on steamers as far as 30 miles to meet the fleet in the dark. By the time they reached the headlands of Botany Bay, they had an escort of many excursion vessels.   Off Coogee Bay they Could see thousands upon thousands of people on the bluffs.  From there to the harbor, on the high cliffs, rocks and headlands, it was simply a mass of humans.

"We're All One" The Hotel Arcadia, Sydney, NSW, Souvenir 20th August 1908


real photo postcards of the fleet in sydney

Some of the nice postcards of the Fleet cruise were the real photo postcards that were created during the visit to Sydney.  These cards were published by a variety of venders including Empire, C.B. & Company and others and were created and sold while the fleet was in port.  Some of the cards where black and whites and some were tinted.


the american fleet entering sydney harbour

These two photo postcards, produced on Empire paper, show the fleet arriving in Sydney Harbour.  One of the cards is tinted, with possibly the USS Kentucky in the foreground, the other a black & white un-tinted card.

walter davies postcards of the fleet's visit

I have not been able to find information about this photographer.  My best guest is that this was a photo company "Davies & Company" located on Bourke Street East in Melbourne.  This is from a photograph dated 1870, so it is highly unlikely that it is the same photographer, but it might be a son.  Davies had a studio between 1855 and 1882 and then in 1893 as a traveling photographer.  Any help on this appreciated.


The battleships of the Fleet anchored out in Sydney harbor and then ran liberty boats ashore where they stopped at piers and landings to disembarks the sailors.  These two cards show locations were sailors went ashore.  These cards shows Man of war Stairs, the first is written from a sailor to his Mother, "Sydney, Australia, August 22, 08, Dear Mother, arrived here the 20th very nice place leave the 27th from Melbourne.  Am in good health and hope this finds you the same From your son, W.A."  The second card shows Man-o-War Stairs and is sent to Miss May Phelps in Washington DC, the daughter of a officer stationed at the Naval Academy.  To see how many sailor were writing May, follow this link:  The card collection of Miss May Phelps



delighted to meet you

This hand tinted postcard captures the feelings of the time from the Australian people in welcome the American Fleet.  Illustrated with Uncle Sam and an American Bald Eagle shaking hands with a Patriotic Princess of Australia with a kangaroo by her side.  In the background is the smiling sun and the American Fleet.

As soon as Connecticut turned southward in Port Jackson, there were bands playing "The Star Spangled Banner" from every point.  From James Reckner's book, Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet:  "So intense was Australia's interest in the visit that half the population of the city "remained awake the entire night and thousands upon thousands of them long before night was over were on their way to the hill tops outside the city limits, where they massed seemingly in unbroken lines to view the spectacle.  Estimates of the number of spectators vary from 500,000 to 650,000 people."

The official welcoming reception took place on Friday morning with the Admiral and his staff arriving at the Landing at Farm Cove.  They were received by the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Ministers of State, the Prime Minister of New South Wales, Members of the State Ministry, and the Mayor and his staff.  From there it was a short distance to the Domain of the Admiral, where formal statements were given at the pavilion.

hms powerful

The HMS Powerful was a protected cruiser of the Royal Navy and Flagship of the Australian Station.  In 1908 Sir Wilmot Fawkes was the Commander-in-Chief and would have been the receiving officer representing the Royal Navy to the American Fleet



CEREMONY for the fleet's arrival

Above:  The Official Reception was held at the domain with all the customary greetings, welcomes and parading of flags.  This event was attended by thousands of people.Customary during the visit of a head of state or senior military officer is the inspection of some component of the nations's military that they are visiting. At right, Rear Admiral Sperry inspects the guard on the pier as he comes ashore.



This booklet was a welcome as well as it was an advertisement for New South Wales.   New South Wales saw this as an opportunity to seek new settlers and put together a booklet highlight the best features they had to offer.  In 1908 attracting settlers who would work the land and create business was a big factor in growth for New South Wales.  American sailors were perfect candidates.



At right is a Rose Stereograph of the events at the public reception for Admiral Sperry.  This is only one in a series of Rose Stereographs issued for the Fleet's visit.  To see my entire collection clink on this link.

invation to the public reception

This was a reception given for Rear Admiral Sperry and the Officers, Sailors, and Marines given by the Ministers of State for the Commonwealth of Australia.  In invitation was to The Honorable D. Watkins, MP.  This invitation was for the Official Landing and Public Reception which took place on Friday, August 21st, 1908 at the east side of Farm Cove.  The Admiral was received by the Prime Minister, Commonwealth Ministers of Sate; The Prime Minister of New South Wales and the members of the State Ministry; Lord Mayor, aldermen, and town clerk of Sydney.



Above, the USS Minnesota in Sydney harbor with visitor aboard.

The postcard to the left is the first reference to the fleet as the "Great White Fleet" that I have seen in print.  Prior to this the fleet was referred to as the "American Fleet" or the "Atlantic Fleet."  This is a front page of the Evening News, Thursday, August 20, 1908.

On Sunday more than 1,500 sailors of the fleet attended mass at St. Mary's Cathedral.  Afterwards there was a banquet at the Town Hall.  The cabinet card at right was sent from one of the support ships, the USS Glacier later in December.



View of sydney harbor from north sydney, showing the entire American Fleet and auxiliaries.

The card at left is an additional card to the fold-out above, but I am still missing at least one card that would go between it and one card on the other side.  In the photograph above, at least 9 battleships of the Fleet are shown, in the card at left are at least another 5.  If anyone has the other piece to the puzzle, I would be interested in hearing from you.


souvenir program

At right is a small souvenir program of the festivities and general information "presented with the complements of Tost & Rohu."  The booklet is 40 pages with advertising, information and the itinerary of the visit of the fleet to Sydney.

Tost & Rohu were taxidermists, tanners, furriers and curio dealers that had a shop in Sydney boasting "the largest stock in Australia of genuine native implements and curiosities, carved emu eggs and other beautiful souvenirs . . ."  It was a mother and daughter team!  Jane Catherine Tost and Ada Jane Tost.  Ada was married to  Henry Stewart Rohu.  To learn more visit their website at this LINK.


Tinted welcome cards from the fleet's visit

nsw country press welcome to the american fleet

Below is a large (8" x 10") postcard with a photograph of the certificate that the New South Wales Country Press Association presented to Admiral Sperry upon the the American Fleet's visit to Sydney Australia.  The certificate extends a welcome and expresses the things Australia and America have in common and a desire of a long friendship.


cards between pen pals


Hotel Australia, Sydney

Wishing you a very pleasant stay in Melbourne & a good trip home.  Good Luck.

sydney pen pal

This is a group of cards sent from G. F. Kurtz and Little Reggie & Freddie Kurtz.  The were mailed to J. L. Moell of the USS New Jersey who was a Fireman Second Class.

Museum, Sydney

We were greatly disappointed at your absence on Wednesday evening last at our home.  My brother went to me meet you buy did not succeed in finding you.

Martin Place, Sydney

With Kind Regards from G. F. Kurtz, Sydney 80-8-08

Bell Fall, Leura, Blue Mountains

With Love & Kind regards from Little Reggie & Freddie Kurtz,, 81 Hereford Street, Sydney   Your bread was very nice and we pleasure your coins.  Thanks



City of sydney

Sydney was probably half the size of San Francisco, but there seemed to be three-times as many people that morning to greet the fleet.  As the ships entered The Heads, the people here had the finest opportunity of observing the American Fleet than in any port of the world.  The Headlands are from 300 to 400 feet high at various locations around the entrance to the port, and those who climbed to their tops could look down on the fleet as it passed.

Sydney Harbor is one of the finest in the world, well secured from storms with ample depth for shipping.  The fleet moved freely into the harbor and dropped anchor with ease.

The map at left was provided to the Fleet during their visit.  Below is a photo of the deck of the Battleship Connecticut having "visit ship" in Sydney Harbor.


The Empire Works Company

The Empire Works Company produced a postcard-back printing paper for photographers to mass produce real photo post cards in a short period of time.  The photo emollition was on the postcard stock paper and only needed to be exposed to the photo image.  On the back was printed the divided back and the logo for Empire Works Company.  The Empire Works Company was located at 57-59 George Street in Sydney. They also had offices in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland, and Perth.   They sold photographic paper and provided services for developing and printing of photo negatives.  A photographer could take pictures and deliver the negative to Empire and get postcards produced quickly.  Cards that were produced in this manner were black & white photo images and lacked the same interest as a color postcard,  This was solved by tinting the color photograph by hand to create a color image.  Photo paper were coated with baryta that prevented the emulsion from soaking into the fabric of the paper.  This allowed cards to be tinted using an oil based paint in layers to produce a "color" postcard in a short period of time.  Below are examples of Empire cards tinted and un-tinted that were sold during the fleet's visit.


A little after 11:30 am the USS Connecticut passed North Head and entered Sydney Harbor, firing a 21-gun national salute.  The four division then moved to individual anchorages within the harbor.  The above series of cards were issued for the fleet visit from stock photos similar to the Mitchell cards issued for California.


The people of Australia loved postcards as much as Americans, possibly more, and publishers were ready with cards well before the fleet arrived.  This was a group of six cards, "Australia Welcomes America."


centennial Park military review for the american fleet

One of the biggest event of the Fleet's visit to Sydney was the Review at Centennial Park.  The event was set up with a huge reviewing stand where thousands of troops, cadets, and students paraded with grand displays of pageantry.  The event was held on Monday afternoon and had thousands in attendance.



The group of cards are from a photo collection made by Seaman Battey on the Battleship Missouri.  His entire collection of photographs can be seen on this site at the following link - Battey Collection

The four real photo postcards came from the same owner.  I imagine there were more to the collection.  This first photograph shows the NSWGT Steam Tram Motor No. 39 loading sailors.  The Tram went from Moore Park in Sydney to visit Parramatta.  The New South Wales railways had been operating since before 1850 and by 1908 had lines extending throughout the region.  Shown in the photo is C39, C37 is currently being restored by the Railway Preservation Society in Parramatta Park. The University of Newcastle has an original photo of Steam Tram 39 which was scanned from a glass plate negative.  (Link to Photo)  The second photograph shows the Connecticut's Battalion marching by the Reception Pavilion erected for the Fleet's visit.  This can be seen in the stereoview and postcard shown above.  The third card shows an unknow Sydney cemetery.  The four card showing a component of the Commonwealth military, Irish troops parading in the review that was held in Centennial Part at noon, Monday, August 24th.

australia welcomes the american fleet


pen pals

This is a nice pair of Sydney cards showing the Town Hall and the Government house in high resolution photographs.  They were sent to "Mr. Perry" a sailor of the fleet after their departure, September 8, 1908.

"Dear Mr. Perry, Your letter and postals from Melbourne to hand.  I remember you telling me about the bull fight and am pleased to have pictures of it.  Are you among the sailors on the roof, rather an elevated but dangerous position I should think.  You are certainly very loyal in holding up for Sydney and I will do the same for your country.  We get news of the Fleet in the papers, believe you all had a good time in Albany.  Kind Regards"

"Did you see this Newtown building while in Sydney.   It is situated in the Botanical Gardens.  All at home send Best Wishes to you, Ivy Davie.   I can pronounce Ohio now without any trouble."



This booklet, Sydney Australia - The Queen of the South Pacific was published by the government of New South Wales at the time of the Fleet's visit.  It is a picture book of Sydney and the surrounding area so that visitors from the fleet might consider coming and living in Australia after their time in the Navy.


scrapbook of manly beach

These three scrapbook pages were rescued from eBay and enhanced with Photoshop to live again.  The pages were taken from an old family photo album that show images from the Manly Beach and Freshwater area north of Sydney.  The center page in the upper left corner has a picture of "U.S. Fleet entering Sydney Australia."  As two of the images are labeled Sydney and Manly Australia, the family might have come to Australia to vacation and see the fleet.   Other images include "Instructions in Life Saving" with folks in bathing suits of the period.  "Swimming Race at Manly Bath House" and coastal pictures from both Manly and Freshwater.  A nice group of a visit to Manly Beach.




Monday, August 24th started with a Review of the American Navy, Commonwealth Naval and Military Forces, and Cadets at Centennial Park.  The card at right shows the review dignitaries watching forces as they pass.  The photograph in the center is from "The Australian."  At left the fleet parades through downtown Sydney.


Friday morning the 28th was planned for the parade.  Initially the authorities expected the bluejackets and marines to parade without arms.  When Admiral Sperry found out he interceded letting it be know that it would be something of a clownish charter to have 2,500 men march through the city without arms.  They would probably end up throwing kisses to pretty girls and raising high jinks despite the efforts of their officers.  He won the day and sailors got their arms.   Landing a naval brigade at Fann Cove and Woolloomooloo Bay the next day, sailors were mustered at the public domain, a short distance from the Government House and waited for the public reception to end.  Upon which they were marched up Pitt Street, which had been renamed America Avenue during fleet week, and the leading thoroughfare of the city in the presence of a madly cheering crowd.  No such enthusiasm had been witnessed by Americans in any parade since the day George Dewey came back and marched down 5th Avenue in New York City.


At center an animation of a Rose Stereoview Card of the fleet marching through the Grand Arch, Martin Place.  The cards to the right and left are from a series of postcard photographed by Walter Davies.

Rose Stereograph 12,817 001
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 Sydney and Melbourne.  The quality of his work is widely recognized.  To see my collection of his stereographs select the image above.




vice-regal photographers

This cabinet card photograph by The Crarus Sudio was a formal portrait of the Admirals of the Fleet with their aids.  This rare photograph was made during their visit to Sydey and measures approximately 5-1/2 inches x 7 inches.

From left to right:  Rear Admiral William Emory, Rear Admiral Charles Sperry, Rear Admiral Seaton Schroeder, and Rear Admiral Richard Wainright.





Sydney-Greeting Card

Illustrated cards from the fleet's visit

The above cards provide an illustrated view of the patriotism in animals 🙂  The two cards to right and left are examples of advertising cards that were produced for the fleet's visit.

"America's Might"  Fac-simile reproduction of large picture worked in silk on the Light Running "New Home" Sewing Machine. (at our show rooms, 746 George Street, Haymarket), as a Souvenir of the Visit of the American Fleet."

"Drink Resch's Lager & Ales"  Pretty much says it all. 



adams' marble bar

"there's a gallant fighting spirit in the Yankee Fleet I think, . . ."  This card was published by the the Marble Bar, with a poem saluting the Yankee Fleet.  The lavish Victorian bar was built in a local hotel, the Tattersall's Hotel when it was renovated in 1891.  It was built by George Adams costing 30,000 pounds.  Every surface is decorated with marble and stained glass panels, mirrors, mahogany and paintings.  In 1973 it was carefully taken apart and reassembled in the Hilton Hotel where it is today.


Certainly one of the most unique items issued for the fleet's visit was this set of spoons.

On the front Teddy Roosevelt on the handle.  In the bowl one of the battleships.  On the back, either Admiral Evans or Dewey.

This set of 6 probably made a nice display for many years in a dining room at the home of  a Sydney resident.



the grand lodge of new south wales

Members of the fleet who were brothers in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) might have received this certificate is they visited the Grand Lodge of New South Wales in Sydney.  The IOOF was founded in Baltimore in 1819 by Thomas Wildey from the Order of Odd Fellows founded in England during the 1700s.  It was the first of the American Lodges that included both men and women when it adopted the "Beautiful Rebekah Degree" in 1851.  In NSW, the first chapter was established in 1836 and in Melbourne 1846.  Membership was voted on by placing a black or white ball in the ballot box; if more than three black balls were returned, the prospective member was rejected, hence the term blackballing.   Members payed a fee to ensure they received benefits in case of illness, unemployment or death.  The required members to be of sound health, prosperous, and be morally and religious.  The order is known as the Triple Link Fraternity, shown on the certificate, with a motto of "Friendship, Love, and Truth."



Sydney decorated the city with lights.  Each night government and private building were lit up for the Fleet's visit.  At right is the Town Hall.  At right and below the Post Office Sydney.  Below the Sydney Mint, the Sydney Railway Station, Fleet Illuminations, the Sydney Customs House, the Circular Quay with Battleships, Customs House Illuminations, and Fleet Illuminations with Search Lights.


visit of american fleet to manly

The American Fleet was treated to a visit to Manly.  Manly, located up the coast, arranged for the Port Jackson Company seamer "Kuring-Gai" to transport 250 officers and men from Circular Quay at 10 am and drop them at the Manly Pier where they would march to the Triumphal Arch accompanied by the Manly Band.  There they were welcomed by the Mayor who planted two trees in honor of the occasion.  Following this there was a Circus Show, Dinner, Procession of Children, a Second Performance of the Circus, Sports competition, Afternoon Tea, and the Manly Band marching the American Sailors back to the pier.

Manly is about 11 miles (17 kilometers) north of Sydney and still has a reputation as a tourist destination with an attractive setting on the Pacific and accessibility by ferry.  The city was named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people that lived there, stating that "their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove this place."



harding & billings postcard series

This was a series of cards produced by Harding & Billings and Auckland publishing firm.  The series includes postcards of framed photos of different scenes around Sydney while the Fleet was visiting.


visit of u.s.a fleet to parramatta

On Wednesday, August 26, 1908 the American Fleet was invited to Parramatta a luncheon and schedule of events.  The program would kick-off with a steamer ride, up the Parramatta River by Captain Mance, arriving in Parramatta in 2-hours at 11 am.  They would march from the landing to the town hall with a band and H Company of the 3rd Regiment, Australian Infantry where they received a reception by the mayor.  At noon they were received by the Bowling Club and at 12:30 lunch at the Main Pavilion.  Afterward cars were available for a drive to the orchard country, tea, tree planting, tug-of-war, and a march to the rail station to return to Sydney.

Parramatta is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Sydney and sits on the banks of the Parramatta River.  It was founded as a British settlement in 1788 and is the oldest inland settlement in Australia.  The Battle of Parramatta was a major battle of the Australian frontier wars occurring in March 1797.  Today it is the main business district of Greater Western Sydney home to many shops and restaurants.

the american fleet.  Australia's welcome to the american armada

This was an information program for the people of Sydney published before the fleet's arrival with information about the fleet, history of British and American Relations, schedule of events, and what the government was planning.  The booklet is a full 9"W x 12"L  and there is not a single picture of a politician, naval officer, or warship, (except on the cover).  Reading though this program it is clear it is intended to set the "tone" of the reception the City of Sydney should provide for the American Fleet.  Some of the articles, "Why We Welcome the Fleet,"  "A Lesson in National Resourcefulness,"  "San Francisco's Welcome to the Fleet," "Genesis of the Invitation," and "Decorations of the City."

The last, "Decorations of the City" is a detailed account of the City's plan for what decorations will be placed on public buildings and streets.  "Man-o-War Steps.  As these steps will form the chief avenue of traffic for the sailors during their stay in Sydney, the Government are preparing to decorate the Tarpean Way and other avenues leading to the steps.  The road running round by the Circular Quay will be decorated with venetian masts, greenery, flags, and coloured streamers.  At the entrance to man-o-war steps the American sailors will be greeted with the words, "Uncle Sam, Ahoy," displayed in large letters and surrounded by festoons and streamers."


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