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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.
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.
A WELCOME TO NEW SOUTH WALES AUSTRALIA FOR THE UNITED STATES FLEET - AUG 1908
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.
THE GREAT WHITE FLEET
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
All the animals were there! Eagles, kangaroos, lions, and emus were there to welcome the fleet to Sydney! and they like beer! Resch's larger ales to be exact!
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.