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



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.



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.



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.


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.



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 is accurate for the fleet's visit.  At right the fleet entering 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 four cards, "Australia Welcomes America."



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. 





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."




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