September 22 - 28, 2013: Issue 129


The Arrival of Australia's Navy in Sydney Harbour: October 1913

Manly Corso - circa 1908 - this looks like a welcome for the Great White Fleet visit of American ships in 1908. In Australia the arrival of the Great White Fleet on 20 August 1908 was used to encourage support for the forming of Australia's own navy. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Photo courtesy State Library of NSW

If William Cresswell grew weary of all that needed to be done to bring about what we now know as the Royal Australian Navy, an Australian Fleet entering Sydney Harbour on the 4th of October, 1913, remembering words he’d spoken years before and the culmination of decades of a Great Work and then some, would have steadied him. From Colonial Navy Brigades in Second Hand Ships to Where the Australian Navy was Born – The Practical Verses of William Rooke Cresswell’s Charter 

Added to this was the knowledge the flagship carried one of his sons as part of its crew:


Of the two naval schemes before the public, that of Admiral Beaumont proposing a modification of the present system, and that of the Naval Commandant of Queensland, who advocates the formation of an Australian navy, owned and controlled by the Commonwealth, only the latter need be considered, as the principle is admittedly favored by the great majority of the public here. Captain Cresswell suggests ' the purchase of a cruiser every two years for ten years, and, reckoning the construction to take two years, if the first were ordered at once, the Commonwealth would in 1913 possess a fleet of five vessels of its own.' The most of these at- £300, 000 apiece, and their annual maintenance at £47,000 each, could be covered by a yearly Federal appropriation of £300,000 or £350,000, the burden of which might be lessened by the gradual diminution and ultimate extinction of the auxiliary squadron subsidy and a reduction in the ordinary naval defence expenditure. From our present annual contribution of £.126,000 per annum— really as New Zealand is not in the Commonwealth, about£90,000— to £350,000 is a big jump, and as all the capital expenditure of £1,500,000 will be outside our limits, members of Parliament can hardly be expected to let so much water go past their own mill without opposition. A NAVY OF OUR OWN, OR A HIRED ONE?. (1902, January 5).Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 3. Retrieved from

Flagship of Rear-Admiral Commanding Australian Fleet. Officers : Rear-Admiral Sir George E. Patey, K.C.V.O. ; secretary, Cuthbert H. Rodham ; flag-lieutenant, Basil R. Poe ; clerks to secretary, Leslie S. Brown and James D. Jackson ;captain, Stephen H. Radcliffe ; commander. George F. Hyde ; lieutenants :C, D. Longstaff, J. G. Walsh, H. C.Allen, A. R. A. Macdonald, W. M. V.Lewis, F. C. Darley, D. C. Pillans, J.G. Crace, 0. C. Warner, C. Emmott,G. A. Hill, H. L. Quick (acting) ; sublieutenant, C. M. Mereweather ; engineer-commander, W. C. Johnson ; engineer-lieutenants : Ii. A. Lee, H. Bleackley, T. W. Ross, H.,M. F. Robinson, O. 0. Ireland, and A. B.Doyle ; chaplains : Rev. P. J. Gibbons, B.A., and Rev. Frederick Riley, M.A.; fleet paymaster, R. E. Ward -roper ; staff surgeon, A. R. Caw; surgeon, W. E. Roberts ; assistant-pay -master, L. H. Mosse-Robinson ; gunners : D. Ogilvie, J. Wilkes (T.), A.C. Newton, A. E. Shute, W. Gregory boatswain, A. McCutcheon ; signal boatswain, W. D. Hunter (acting) ;carpenter, A. H. Martin ; midshipmen :H. H. Mcwilliam, C. F. Cresswell, W.H. Bremmer, F. A. B. Haworth Booth, A. L. Pears, H. A. Packer, R.R. Lyle, E. E. Hill, R. G. Fenton-Livingston, J. B. Findlay, E. W. Billyard-Leake, V. R. Bowley, G. H. E. Maison, J. W. Pinhey ; paymaster's clerks : J. Hehir and A. E. Sharp. Commissioned in the Clyde, June 21, 1913.

Protected-Cruiser Sydney. 5,400 tons ; h.p., 22,000 N.D.; speed,27 knots ; length, 430ft. ; beam, 48ft.oin. ; draught, 15ft. ; armament, eight6in. guns, four 3 pr. ; builders. Cammell, Laird and Co., Birkenhead ; sister ship to Melbourne and BrisbaneOfficers : Captain, John C. T Glossop ; lieutenants ; J. F. Finlay -son, H. J. Feakes, D. E. Rohilly, B.0. BeUSalter, G. CE. Hampden; sub-lieutenants : F. L. Cavaye, J. M.C. Johnstone ; engineer-lieutenants :A. W. Coleman and L. P. Fowler ; engineer sub-lieutenant, C. Dennis ; surgeon, L. Darby, M.B., Ch. B- ; chaplain, Rev. V. A. Little, M.A. ; pay -master, A. F. B. Livesay (acting) ;gunners : G. B. Salter and J. C.Macfarlane (acting) ; boatswain, A.M. Martin (acting'), carpenter, E. G.Behenna ; artificer-engineer, G. A.Hutchinson (acting) ; paymastcr'-s clerks : D. Munro and N. J. Embelton. Commissioned in the Clyde, June 27, 1913. THE VISITING WARSHIPS. (1913, September 17). Albany Advertiser (WA : 1897 - 1950), p. 3. Retrieved from

Colin Francis Creswell 1894 - 1917 was appointed to the Battle cruiser HMAS Australia on 24 May 1913. He was the fourth child and a son of Rear Admiral Sir William Rooke Creswell the first Member of the Naval Board Royal Australian Navy and Adelaide Creswell OBE of Fernadale, Silvan Victoria Australia. 

As early as May 1913 a shift in thinking and acceptance began to be expressed. Ever present in this establishing of a Federation of states was the knowledge that a nation of Australia, if not for a Royal Navy, would never have been 


"This will be the third and last occasion," said Sir George King-Hall, "on which I shall have the honour and pleasure of addressing many of the leading citizens of. Sydney on Empire Day, citizens of a most important city in the Empire, the capital of the mother State, and which from its very situation and, may I add, the magnificent harbour-(laughter)-Is destined by nature to be the Queen City of the Pacific, as Venice was the Queen of the Adriatic. The British Empire is a maritime federation of States, an Empire unique in history, for these States so widely scattered are linked together by the roads on the oceans, along which voyage the rich argosies that bring wealth and prosperity to its various members. Block these roads, or cut these arteries of life, and we bleed to death; so it is an absolute necessity to our very existence that we throw the shield of our protection over the seas under which our commerce and communications shall be practically safe and secure. Consequently, the question of naval defence is uppermost in the minds of every, thoughtful person, both at home and in the dominions beyond the seas, how we are all to share in the defence, to mutually support one another in times of stress and strain; and to no part of the Empire is this co-ordination and co-operation more necessary and vital to its very existence than it is to the Commonwealth. (Applause.)

"I will touch on the share that Australia has taken in this respect. It is not in my province to criticise the naval policy of other dominions, but keeping Australia only in view, I am absolutely convinced that no other policy is or ever was feasible than the one adopted. This policy is more natural, more enduring than that of paying a contribution, and I. am perfectly astonished that to anyone living out here the latter idea should still be considered in the region of practicability. It is not sound politically, and hence cannot be sound from the Imperial point of view. All past history teaches us this lesson. The critics of the present Australian naval policy, may I venture to say, have a limited horizon, only considering present needs. The statesman, on the other hand, with a large grasp of the situation, and a keen, piercing insight into the future, has an horizon stretching out to coming possibilities, whilst not neglecting the present. He says, 'We will shoulder the  task; we will help the mother country by building up a naval force which will be the Commonwealth division of the Imperial Fleet; we will not only give of our money but give of our manhood, and thus generate an ardent naval spirit amongst our people.' What will be the result? The whole .nation will appreciate and take a personal interest in the men and the ships that are provided and maintained for the defence of the Empire. (Applause.)

"Do not listen to those who say that it will be a sectional force. It will never be so, unless mad, fatuous folly seizes hold of all Commonwealth statesmen and Australians generally to their own undoing and absolute ruin. You will find that as years roll on the Royal Australian Navy will more and more become a stronger and stronger tie binding the old country and her young, vigorous offspring together. Time does not allow me to dwell on this point. There can only be one control in war, and if it should ever unfortunately break out, you will find that such is the case; and must be so. I have the fullest confidence that any Commonwealth Government will send the ships or those required to any part of the world if they are needed to take their part in the general war plan, which,. Of course, has been thought out and prepared beforehand. 


"What of the R.A.N.? It has been from the beginning most successful. Two years ago the cry was that the Australians would never take to the sea. The result has proved that they will do so-as ducks take to the water, and as their forefathers have done in the past centuries. (Hear, hear.) 

The naval spirit evoked has been most remarkable. There has been no lack of entries. All the reports that I have received of the personnel from, home and officers out here-and I know it from my own observation-are most satisfactory as regards discipline and Intelligence, and a fine esprit de corps is being evolved. Mistakes from time to time-and perhaps serious mistakes-will be made. Young nations, like young people, must buy their experience; but keep the goal in view, and it will be reached in time. 'Nil desperandum" should be our motto.

"Here I will mention two facts that should be noted, viz., but the success of the Australian policy is not only due to those in Australia who have never allowed themselves to be daunted or discouraged by difficulties, but have gone right ahead with courage, looking to the ultimate issue, and in this connection I must-mention Admiral Sir William Cresswell; but it is also due to the generosity and support of the Admiralty, who have given of their best both of officers and men, to assist in starting and developing the Royal Australian Navy on the right lines-officers and men that they can ill spare at present. Without them there could be no Australian Navy. This must never be forgotten either in the present or in the future. (Applause.) 

I am glad it is my lot to hand over the Australian part of the station to such an able successor as Admiral Patey, who will be out hero shortly, as I am sure that the R.A.N., under his leading and guidance, will be everything that it should be, and the ships and men will be ready to take their places in the one of battle whenever or wherever required.

It has been a most Interesting time for over two years that I have been in command and I shall remember these Empire Days at the Royal Exchange where you have given me the opportunity and privilege of speaking on the naval question and policy, which in the years to come will prove, if rightly guided, that tho true perception of the naval and Imperial situation has been realised by the British race in Australia, in carrying out the present naval policy that Will enable us to face the great and most serious problems that must come sooner or later in tho Pacific. I conclude by wishing every prosperity to Australia, one of the brightest gems in the galaxy of nations that form the British Empire. I see in the future this nation growing in strength and virility, standing as guardian over Imperial interests in those great southern seas, mighty for good. (Applause.)

May we on. this Empire Day not breathe a spirit of jingoism or bravado, but a prayer that we may remember that the motto of 'Advance Australia,' will be accomplished in so much and in so far only as the people look to the Divine guidance and blessing for carrying out the high mission that has been entrusted to them now and in the years to come." (Loud applause.) AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE. (1913, May 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from Image from anouncement of appointment to Australian Station: No title. (1911, February 18). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 31. Retrieved from

Meanwhile in Sydney, on the 4th of April 1911 the Warrego was launched from Cockatoo Island and in the UK, two happy events were taking place later this same year. On 10 July 1911, King George V granted the title of "Royal Australian Navy" and :

H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA LAUNCHED. The Commonwealth cruiser battleship Australia was successfully launched at Clydebank by Lady Reid on Wednesday. Lady Reid, in performing the ceremony, said : “May the old flag and the new flag ever fly together in peace and war.”-Sir George Reid received telegrams from Mr. Andrew Fisher, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and the officers and crew of the battleship Commonwealth, wishing success to' the Australia. Lord Aberconway, chairman of John Brown and Co., the builders, in proposing the toast of .''Success to the Australia,” said that the Commonwealth s reason for building the vessel was twofold— to defend her own territory, and to support the rest of the Empire. Sir George Reid deplored the necessity for building warships, but declared that the ships were guarantees of peace, and Australia 'believed that as such they served the highest interests of mankind.’ Australia, he added, had no hostile neighbors, and no racial troubles. She had universal service, and she wished 'to have a fleet', recognising as she did her obligations to the motherland. In the meantime the warships prevented wrong being done, and kept peace. It was in that .spirit that they were launching the vessel that day. He hoped that the old and new flags would always fly together in the cause of peace and commerce. Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson said that by her policy Australia was creating a naval spirit that would fit her to be an efficient member of an Empire that was now more than ever dependent on her sea power. H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA LAUNCHED. (1911, October 29. Sunday). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 14. Retrieved from

Lady Reid was the wife of Sir George Houstoun Reid (1845-1918), premier, fourth prime minister of Australia and appointed as first high commissioner in London December 1909. He purchased the site for Australia House and arranged for its building, and took responsibility for overseeing the construction of the new Australian fleet. He married on 5 November 1891, Flora Ann Brumby, daughter of a Longford, Tasmania, farmer. Lady Reid, for her work in assisting Australian soldiers recuperating in London from World War I, was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in August 1917, being in the first list of appointments to the order, which had been created only in June 1917. (1.)

Sir George and Lady Florence Reid and their children (left to right) Douglas, Thelma and Clive, in London c. 1915. Courtesy National Library of Australia.

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF INTERVEWED. CAPE TOWN, August 20. Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, was interviewed yesterday on the arrival of his flagship, the Australia, at Cape Town. He emphasised the fact that no dividing line would be drawn between the men lent by the Imperial Navy and those who joined the service in Australia. They were all the same to him, he said, and they would all be officers and men of the Royal Australian Navy. The Commander-in-Chief said he would treat all the ships under his command in Australia in the same way as he would treat a similar squadron under his command in England.

HMAS Australia at Cape Town

Questioned regarding the naval policy in general, Sir George said he believed Australia was doing the right thing in regard to contributing towards the defence of the motherland. He considered the Australian naval scheme outlined by Admiral Henderson was excellent. The soundly built-up individual independence of the overseas Dominions need never clash with the unity of the Empire as a whole. It needed an instinct contrary to nature to conceive that an outsider could hope to interfere with 'success between a mother and her children. H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA. (1913, August 21). The Advertiser(Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 15. Retrieved from

AN HISTORICAL EVENT. Sydney could never have fleet week over again. Like the first baby, it was surrounded by all the enthusiasm and glamour of novelty. When America's fleet steamed into Sydney harbour the whole populace was more or less hysterical with excitement, and this frame of mind lasted until Uncle Sam's battleships were out of sight of their homeward journey. The visit of the American men-'o-war is credited with having aroused the determination to have a fleet of our own, and on October 4th Australia's fleet unit will sail into Sydney harbour amid much pomp and exultation. The event is to be celebrated royally, and the rejoicings are to be worthy of the importance of the historical event which will mark the acceptance of responsibility by the Commonwealth for the sea defence of Australian shores. AN HISTORICAL EVENT. (1913, September 19). Forbes Times(NSW : 1912 - 1920), p. 6. Retrieved from

FAREWELL. "OUR SISTER SERVICE. On the arrival of the Australia flying the flag of Rear Admiral Sir George Patey the flag of Vice-Admiral King Hall now flying on HMS Cambrian, will be hauled down and His Excellency will issue the following memorandum to the ships of the Royal Navy in these waters -

“Before relinquishing the command of the Australian station I desire to express my satisfaction to all who have served under my flag for the loyal support that has been rendered to me during this transitional period that I have been commander in chief.

'”The new Australian station has been transferred to the Commonwealth, and the ships of the Royal Australian Navy are now the guardians of these water-thus preserving the continuity of Imperial naval defence in this part of the southern hemisphere which has been in charge of the Royal Navy since 1788.

On behalf of myself and the officers and men of the Royal Navy I have tendered through His Excellency the Governor General our best wishes for the continued success and welfare of our comrades m our sister service, the Royal Australian Navy which with the Royal Navy forms one great Imperial fleet for the defence of our King and the peoples of this worldwide Empire which Providence has entrusted to our care.


Admiral, Commander in Chief 

WELCOMING THE FLEET. (1913, October 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 19. Retrieved from


(From Our Special Correspondent.) SYDNEY, Friday - All day long the streets of Sydney have echoed to the tapping of countless hammers. Over the precipitous building fronts a modern race of cliff men are swarming. In and out of the windows they pop unceasingly along the window ledges and the parapets they crawl, tap tapping as they go and as they pass they leave behind them long loops of fluttering pennants and lines strung with electric light globes that look like pendants of diamonds in the sunlight. The water tables arc littered with their paraphernalia, their ladders span the footpaths and divide the populace into two sections-those who are superstitious and those who are not. Ropes are slung across the streets and after them follow the streamers. Big shields and trophies of flags are being swung aloft on hastily improvised tackle. What with the lofty shouts of ' Under below ' as men work the dangling ropes that make it necessary to keep a sharp look-out above, and the lumber on the footpath that makes traps for the feet, the pedestrian has a feeling that he is on the stage before his time. The Australia, the first battleship of the Australian fleet, is to arrive in the harbour tomorrow and all these preparations are for her welcome.

The business people have risen nobly one might better say, perhaps, patriotically-to the unique occasion. But where their efforts an being supplemented by the civic and State authorities the display promises to be one of great beauty. In Martin place, for instance, the business houses on one side and the Post-office on the other are decorated, while the roadway has been transformed by a scheme of decoration most elaborate There are big white arches at each end of the street, and in between Venetian masts, streamers, flag trophies, and shields have been used with artistic effect In Macquarie street the arches have been covered with foliage, and the green and the bright coloured flags used as festoons between the Venetian masts contribute towards an indescribably beautiful effect. In addition to a liberal use of bunting that makes Sydney a gay sight by day, the electric light is being pressed into service for elaborate night illuminations.

More beautiful than the city is the harbour on these festive occasions, and for the welcome of the fleet a special effort is being made to add to the lighting effects which give the beautiful reaches of the waterway so fairy like an appearance. An aquatic carnival is being arranged on an extensive scale, and during the whole of today an army of workmen has been engaged in carrying the electric light lines along the water front and through some of the wooded slopes that make so charming a background. 

The Cambrian, Admiral Sir George King Hall's flagship, and the Psyche ride at anchor in Farm Cove ready to take then part in the formal welcome to the fleet and the informal celebrations that are to follow.

The city is full of visitors and in the booking offices at large hotels one hears the self reproaches of the man who omitted to bespeak accommodation. Country visitors are flocking in by every train, and the adjoining States are also contributing their quota. A party of Federal members arrived by the Melbourne express this morning. It included the Prime Minister (Mr Cook), the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr Elliot Johnson),Mr Hughes, and about a dozen other members. A large party will arrive by special train to morrow morning. 

His Excellency the Governor General and Lady Denman and suite are passengers by the special, and considerable interest is being taken in their visit, for it is the first time that they have arranged to stay in Sydney since Government House ceased to be at their disposal. Lord Denman was here for the cadet parade some time ago, but he left again almost immediately, and although Lady Denman passed through the port on her return from England at the last weekend she did not enter the city proper. The party on the present occasion will be the guests of Admiral Sir George King Hall at Admiralty House, Kirribilli Point.

Up to the present Sydney has been concerned mainly with its preparations. The fleet does not arrive until the morning, and so plays no immediate part in this busy and animated scene As the main feature of the morrows historic event however, it looms large in the public mind, and fires the imagination by what it is and what it stands for. 

All day long the vessels have been anchored in Jervis Bay. This evening came a message that they had steamed out to sea Although temporarily out of touch with the mainland, they have kindled a torch of popular interest that will not soon be extinguished.

Photographs of the vessels and of the officers are placarded all over the city in train and tram and at street corners there is an exchange of titbits of information about the war-ships. Much of the spectacular effect of tomorrow's welcome will depend upon the weather and each bulletin from the Meteorological Bureau is being anxiously scanned. During the past few days the temperature has been slowly rising. Today the atmosphere has been close, but this afternoon the forecast for tomorrow was –‘Fine with easterly winds’

Late in the afternoon it looked to one used to Australian conditions as though the weather might become unsettled, and in the early evening there were some drops of rain that brought the umbrellas out. The forecast from the meteorologist tonight, however, is for fine weather.

The fleet is timed to enter the Heads at half past 10 o'clock the flagship Australia leading followed by the cruisers Sydney, Encounter, and Melbourne, and the torpedo boat destroyers Warrego, Yarra and Parramatta. The vessels will be met at the Heads by steamers conveying Federal Ministers members mid friends, and State Ministers and party. There will be a stately procession into the harbour and after the fleet  is anchored Rear Admiral Sir George Patey, will call on Admiral Sir George King Hall on board the Cambrian and then proceed to Admiralty House where he will meet the Naval Board and be presented to His Excellency the Governor General. Afterwards the Rear Admiral will call upon the State Governor (Sir Gerald Strickland) In the afternoon a party from the war vessels will attend the A.J.C. Spring Meeting at the Randwick race course and in the evening the officers of the fleet will be entertained at a banquet in the Town Hall at which His Excellency the Governor General will preside. The fleet and the city will be illuminated during the evening.

On Sunday there will be an official church parade and an afternoon service in the Town Hall for the men. The attractions on Monday are -Vessels open for inspection in the morning, Eight Hours demonstration and sports, A.J.C. Spring Meeting officers' theatre party and city and fleet illuminations. In the evening on Tuesday there will be a march through the city and an at home on the Australia, a ball at Government House and illuminations. The celebrations will be continued on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. WELCOMING THE FLEET. (1913, October 4). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 19. Retrieved from

While these reports were being run, the Australian Fleet was moving up the coast from Jervis Bay. The great day had arrived:


From out the morning mist the long grey line came in.

It was not the Great White Fleet this time. It was the Great Grey Fleet, smaller but a greater thing to us than the warships of  the United States. We were conscious of the pride of ownership as we watched that thin grey line over the waters come creeping on from the east, and growing larger and larger as it came. It was Australia's  Fleet In Being.

As Mr. Fisher, the ex-Prime Minister, put it, as he stood at the rail of the  steamer Kubu with Senator Millen (Minister for Defence) and Senator Pearce (ex-Minister for Defence), and watched the fleet come in, "The thing is done, and there is now no turning back;"

SS Kubu, launched 1912. Photo circa 1932.

It was the thought that was uppermost in all men's minds-the scores of thousands of them who, on land and water, were gazing at the ships. The thing was done. The talking time was past. The net had been performed. There in front of their eyes, on this bright morning, was the splendid realisation of the dream of years-a dream that was born of our Nationhood. Not the full realisation of it, in truth, but the beginning of it, the nucleus of the Fleet that is to be. And all knew, as they looked, that there could be no turning back. The full meaning of it, with all its responsibilities, shot home, as these terrible engines of war, withal so stalely and majestic, rode in triumph through the Heads.

Sir Henniker Henton, watching them from the same steamer, renounced his pre-conceived ideas of a separate navy in that impressive moment. "I am almost persuaded," he said. "This splendid sight and the talks I have had with our fine Admiral, Sir George King-Hall, have upset my convictions. There is no doubt of Australia's loyalty, and their hearts will swell bigger now than ever before."


The fourth of October-it will be a memorable day for us, even as the month is a memorable one for all British people. For on the 21st of October every year the mastheads of the old Victory, lying in Portsmouth Harbour, are crowned with laurel, in remembrance of her last great fight at sea. The crews of the Australia,  our flagship, and of the Sydney-17 percent of them Australians-sailed out of that same harbour on July 21, with memories of the old flagship of Trafalgar and the gallant sailor whose famous signal reminds us of what Australia, as well as England, expects of every man in her navy.

And it would have been strange if the people who on Saturday watched our ships come in, had not recalled memories of the past, of the glories of the Royal Navy, and of famous British warships and their commanders of the Victory and Nelson, the Revenge and Sir Richard Grenville, the Queen Charlotte and Lord Howe, the Ramillies and Admiral Byng, the Royal George and Kempenfelt, the Royal Sovereign and Collingwood, and many other famous ships and men.

Was it but coincidence, or was it the memory of Collingwood’s own words as he took the Royal Sovereign into action, that led one on board the Kubu to exclaim: "What would Nelson give to be here!"


There may be no more worlds to conquer, but there are worlds to keep-and "the fleet of England is her all in all." And ever since Trafalgar, wherever our ships of war have gone, they have been a protection to the weak against the strong, they have been the symbol of liberty against oppression, and of right against might. For this same thing our Australian fleet stands. As the Minister for Defence says, it is not merely the embodiment of force-it is the expression of Australia's resolve to pursue in freedom its national ideals, and to hand down, unimpaired and unsullied, the heritage it has received, and which it holds and cherishes as an inviolable trust.

Thus has Australia played her part as a daughter of the Homeland. Such is her contribution to the naval defence of the Empire.

Carry the word to my Sisters-to the Queens of the North and South, I have proven faith in the heritage by more than word of mouth.

With that action which speaks louder than words, we have fashioned a fleet of our own. And from out the cannon's mouth the big ships spoke our message to the Empire and the world. It was Australia's salute to the nations.

A separate navy, and yet attached to the Royal Navy, with the same traditions to live up to, the same worlds to keep. A thing apart, and yet a part of a glorious and indivisible whole.   ARRIVAL OF AUSTRALIA'S NAVY. Illustrated. (1913, October 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from


Far away on the horizon there was a faint grey streak. It was scarcely visible, but someone on the steamer Kubu, which took the Ministry and members of the Federal Parliament, together with a large number of specially invited guests to the Heads to welcome the Fleet, espied the streak of grey and exclaimed "There she comes."    

The morning was somewhat dull, and the sky overcast-it had seemed earlier that there would be rain-but gradually as the wisp of smoke afar off became more definite against the sky-line, the clouds began to lift. Then another faint grey line was seen, another and yet another, until at last there were seven of them. Out of the mist of the morning the ships came into sight. The blur became something definite and tangible, and seven ships of war rode in from the east.

Seven ships of war in line rode slowly towards the Heads. One thought of Phillip and the First Fleet, a century and a quarter ago, heading for the self-came harbour. Here, on the shores of Port Jackson, Phillip founded a meagre settlement, and gave immortality to an obscure statesman by naming it 'Sydney'; and on Saturday the great city which he founded gave welcome to this other and far greater Fleet.  



Majestic and beautiful, yet a grim, portentous thing, the fleet took shape before our eyes. From seven grey ships rose seven great grey clouds of smoke-rose and curled away to the south. Slowly they came on, nearer and nearer, till they stood out, bold and clear-cut, against the sky.

A balloon ascent at Watson's Bay-a beautiful ascent and descent-for a minute or two held the attention of the people, who in their thousands were crowding the foreshores and the boats that lay within the harbour, and perhaps it also interested the crews of the warships, for the balloonist was throwing bombs down from high up in the air to demonstrate its possibilities in war time; but this was soon over. Impressive as it was, the sight beyond the Heads was a more impressive and more fascinating thing.

Thought of that other fleet-the American fleet-which entered Sydney Harbour a few years ago, a magnificent and awe-inspiring spectacle, came to one; but one made no comparisons .This was a different thing, and in its way more wonderful to us. It was our Own.


They will do twenty knots and more these ships, when occasion comes. On Saturday they crept up to the Heads like snails. A hydro-plane came racing across the harbour at terrific speed, churning the waters into angry foam. But the battle-cruiser Australia and her consorts, like greyhounds straining in the leash, were waiting the call of time.

The Navy is never late. And the time fixed for the entrance was half-past 10. That was why the advance of the ships was slow. They were waiting till the clock should strike. Out of the south-east they came in beautiful single line, like a long, lithe snake, turned, and came in direct from the east, so that, looking from inside the Heads, the flagship was for a time all that was visible.

And exactly at half-past 10 H.M.A.S. Australia, flagship of the Australian Fleet, Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey, K.C.V.O., in command, was passing through the Heads. And as she did so her band played "Rule Britannia," and the crew stood at their stations.

And simultaneously on the Kubu, where the welcoming Ministers and members of the Federal Parliament were, another band played "Home, Sweet Home;" and from ten thousand throats on harbour and on shore came cheer upon cheer. It was a proud moment for all.

There, high up on the foremast flew, the Rear-Admiral's flag, alongside the Australian flag-the starred blue ensign; on the mainmast was the White Ensign of the Royal Navy. The Commonwealth Flag was the symbol of our ownership. It is the Blue Ensign, with a Southern Cross on the field, made of five-pointed stars and a six-pointed star underneath the Union Jack in the centre.


And the ship herself. . . . She rode in with magnificent grace and beauty, nineteen thousand and two hundred tons of massive grandeur, the biggest warship that has ever entered Sydney Harbour.

We had seen pictures of her, but the sight of her revealed the nation's Dreadnought in all her beauty and majesty-no longer a thing to be looked at on a printed page, but a living, sentient thing, whose mission is to guard our shores and protect our commerce and our trade routes. We do not look upon her as standing for war, but for peace-that peace which comes by being prepared for war. Yet we know when we look upon her that she is a grim and powerful thing, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that she is something to be reckoned with by an enemy. That broad belt of steel armour, 7in thick, those great 12in guns, 50ft long, which hurl 860lbshells through the air at a rate of some-thing between 2000ft and 3000ft a second, carrying death in their train, remind us of what terrible engines of destruction they are. And so with the light cruisers Melbourne and Sydney, which followed the flagship in; and so with the Encounter and the destroyers Warrego, Parramatta, and Yarra. Each one is an engine of war, a deadly thing. As they came through the Heads in the order, named, a distance of two cables and a half, from foremast to foremast, they spoke to us of the potential force they stand for. And it was heightened when, nearing Farm Cove, the big guns of the flagship boomed out their salute. It was magnificent, but, fortunately, it was not war.


We had seen the destroyers before-those swift, destruction-dealing things which Kipling calls the "Choosers of the Slain"-and we had seen the cruiser Melbourne; but the Sydney, sister ship to the Melbourne, and the Australia, greatest of them all, we had not seen. Now, for the first time, we saw a real and compact Fleet-a real Australian Fleet, if not as yet a big one. But our eyes were chiefly on the great ship in the van-the Bulldog of the Fleet, with its great turrets and its torpedo-net booms, that looked like great steel stays to strengthen the hull. It was the first time a battleship with torpedo-net booms had been seen in Australian waters; and it was an Australian battleship.  

Because a feature of modern warships is a clearance of all unnecessary superstructure, there were some who seemed disappointed. "The Connecticut was a finer ship," one with a remembrance of the American Fleet mistakenly remarked. He forgot the thirty feet below the waterline, and he forgot that this ship of his is made for fighting, and not for spectacular purposes. The Australia is the greatest fighting ship the Commonwealth has seen. And most of those who cheered her proudly knew it.

Seven ships in single line rode in and down the harbour. A stately procession, and an  impressive sight. And on each foremast flew Australia’s flag, and on each mainmast the White Ensign. The sun was now shining brightly, and the harbour waters were as peaceful as a lake. All the way along, at every vantage-point on the foreshores, dense crowds of people cheered.


And suddenly a shaft of light shot out from the side of the flagship, immediately followed by a thick smoke-cloud-then a loud report. It was the First Gun. And from Bradley's Head onwards the big guns of the Australia, on starboard and port, continued to boom-seventeen of them. It was the salute of Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey to Admiral Sir George King-Hall. And from H.M S. Cambrian, moored in Farm Cove, thirteen guns were fired in return-the "Admiral's" salute to the Rear-Admiral.


Quietly and methodically the ships of the fleet went to their moorings in Farm Cove. And then the strains of a bugle rang out on the flagship-"Dress Ship"- and in a moment, a magical thing, every warship there was dressed from stem to stern with flags. Rear-Admiral Patey descended into his barge, and proceeded to the Cambrian to visit Admiral Sir George King-Hall. The Admiral a few minutes later returned the call. Our ships had come to their home.  

THE FLEET, LED BY THE FLAGSHIP, ENTERING THE HEADS ON SATURDAY MORNING. THE ENTRANCE. (1913, October 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

The custom of firing cannon salutes originated in the Royal Navy. When a cannon was fired, it partially disarmed the ship, so needlessly firing a cannon showed respect and trust. As a matter of courtesy a warship would fire her guns harmlessly out to sea, to show that she had no hostile intent. At first, ships were required to fire seven guns, and forts, with their more numerous guns and a larger supply of gunpowder, to fire 21 times. Later, as the quality of gunpowder improved, the British increased the number of shots required from ships to match the forts. The system of odd numbered rounds is said to have been originated by Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Navy in the Restoration, as a way of economising on the use of powder, the rule until that time having been that all guns had to be fired. Odd numbers were chosen, as even numbers indicated a death.

As naval customs evolved the 21-gun salute came to be reserved for heads of state, with fewer rounds used to salute lower ranking officials. Today, heads of government and cabinet ministers and military officers with five star rank receive 19 rounds; four stars receive 17 rounds; 3 stars receive 15; two stars receive 13; and a one-star general or admiral receives 11. These same standards are currently adhered to by ground-based saluting batteries.

Multiples of 21-gun salutes may be fired for particularly important celebrations. In monarchies this is often done at births of members of the royal family of the country and other official celebrations associated with the royal family. Salute. (2013, September 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

HMAS Australia and Australian Fleet moored off Man'O'War Steps, Fram Cove, 4th of October, 1913.

Every newspaper in Australia ran articles on this momentous event, many similar and all without the benefit of today's 'instant publication' and indicating physical distance could still be measured by time lapse then. Two had variations - one as a 'view from on bvoard the HMAS Sydney, and the other as it was the only version to mention the residents supply of a 'guard of honour';


SYDNEY, Saturday,—Early this morning the city bore a festive appearance, the occasion being the arrival of the Commonwealth fleet—the flagship Australia, three cruisers Sydney, Melbourne, and Encounter, and destroyers Warrego, Parramatta, and Yarra. Everybody was on holiday bens, and enthusiasm was rampant. Great crowds gathered at all the points of vantage to watch the triumphal entry of the battleships to Port Jackson. The crowd was thickest near the Heads, while thousands went out to Coogee and Bondi.

The city was gaily decorated in honour of the occasion, and hundreds of craft on the water made a picturesque show clad with bunting. The flagship Australia headed the grand entry at 10.30 a.m. amid the crash of saluting artillery from the South Head first. The other vessels following in line, making magnificent spectacle. The air was rent with cheer upon cheer for Australia's navy, and the sirens of all craft in the harbour joined in the welcome.

The Federal Ministry and a party of 400 guests were on board the ferry steamer Kubu, while the State Ministry and their friends were accommodated on the pilot steamer, Captain Cook. In the reserve at South Head were massed a choir of school children and bands, which played the fleet through the heads. The guard of honour for the fleet was provided by the Motor Yacht Club.

The fleet dropped anchor at Farm Cove at 11 a.m., and the event was marked by the booming of the guns of the Australia, conveying the salute of Admiral Sir George Patey to his senior officer, Admiral Sir George King-Hall, whose full admiral's flag was flying on the Cambrian at her moorings in Farm Cove.

The first official call was made by Admiral Patey to Admiral King-Hall, and later the Naval Board presented Admiral Patey to the Governor-General. 

Rear Admiral Sir George Patey (right) and Admiral Sir George King-Hall (left) is received by the Governor General Lord Denham on the steps of Admiralty House, 4 October 1913.

These calls were followed by visits to the State Governor and Lord Mayor. The scene in the harbour on this epoch-making day was indescribable and will be long remembered. The enthusiasm of the crowd was even greater than on the occasion of the visit of the American- fleet. In the evening the fleet officers were entertained at a banquet, at which the Governor-General presided. AUSTRALIAN FLEET. (1913, October 6). Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919), p. 5. Retrieved from

AT SOUTH HEAD. AN ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD. THE FIRST GLIMPSE. A dull grey morning, with the sky almost overcast with leaden clouds, and the sea and cliffs enshrouded in a dull haze. That was what met the eyes of early morning watchers from South Head for a first glimpse of the Australian fleet. In a short time the haze thickens into a fog, damp and heavy. The sun rises over the rim of the ocean, and touches hills and headlands and the broad surface of the ocean with the rosy hues of dawn. His glory is but short-lived. The heavy bank of clouds offshore enshrouds his face, and the outlook becomes gloomy indeed. The foggy atmosphere, the cloudy sky, and the leaden tinted sea suggest a day of rain and squalls. But the sun comes out again, and claims the day.


Information concerning the movement of the fleet was scanty. It was known that the flagship and her consorts had left Jervis Bay on the previous evening. As the naval base is only a matter of 90 miles or so southward, the distance to the Heads could be left behind by the vessels of the fleet so speedily that even the greatest land lubber would hardly have time to get seasick. Some people hurried down to South Head the first thing in the morning, in full expectation of finding the Admiral and his merry men at anchor under the cliffs, awaiting the striking of the hour at which the vessels were timed to enter the Heads. Not finding them there all the sightseers could do was to sit on the cliffs and stare patiently into the haze which curtained the sea ten or fifteen miles distant. There was no telling from which point the vessels would leave the unknown, but the general impression was that they would come from the south. Half past 6, half past 7, half past 8 and still the heavy mass of haze remained unbroken. A few coastal vessels cruised hither and thither outside, but they excited no attention, the people being anxious to glimpse, a nobler machine, and to see for the first time their own complete fleet unit.


The minutes dragged round past 9 o'clock, and still there was no sign of the war-ships. Nine o'clock became 9.30, and a minutes later word went up from the signal station that, the fog had been pierced, and the vessels were to be seen. Fifteen miles due east was the pronouncement made by Mr. Gibson, who is in charge of the station. Hundreds of glasses were immediately levelled in the direction indicated, and gradually the vessels were descried. They crept out of the fog ever so slowly. At first the Australia, which led the line, with its pall of black smoke, appeared as a huge blur. Then the lines were discerned and the vessel gradually took shape and presented herself in all her grim majesty to the eyes of her admirers. After Australia's bull-dog came the grey-hounds of the fleet, the Sydney, the Melbourne, and the Encounter, and the pro-cession was closed by the three terriers, the destroyers Warrego, Parramatta, and Yarra.


At one time there seemed to be more police than people along the cliffs. A large squad of mounted men were the first to put in an appearance, and then what looked like an army of helmeted men marched along the roadway. These were scattered round here and there, and were followed by two other armies of men in blue. At this time there were very few people on the cliffs, and it looked as if every man, woman, or child present would  be able to have the undivided attention of  at least two policemen. However, things changed rapidly. Once the trams were set going properly they literally poured picnic parties and sightseers along the South Head road, while thousands discarded the tramways and adopted other means of locomotion.  


Comparing the crowd with that which flocked to South Head when the American fleet arrived, it seemed to be of much smaller proportions, but it must be borne in mind that it was scattered over a much wider area. The cliffs round the lighthouse, the signal station, and down towards the Gap accommodated thousands, but as far as glasses could reach cliff and bench were dotted with people. Those who visited South Head evidently profited by the experience gained through the visit of the Americans. They were not guilty of such foolishness, as going down to the cliffs and remaining there all night. Neither did they rise very early. They seemed to take up the position that 10.30  was the time for the boats to enter the  Heads, and if they got there by then they  would see them. One solitary vendor of  oranges took time by the forelock. He appeared on the scene as early as 4 o'clock on Friday afternoon. He camped there all night, so that he could be up in time to trade bright and early. This time his foresight played him a sorry trick, for he could have arrived comfortably at 8 o'clock in the morning, set up his stand, and commenced  business. As it was, he spent a night in the open, and had the mortification of seeing others who had spent their night comfortably at home, come along and do a roaring trade.


The appearance of the Fleet on its entry into the Harbour was not signalised by any great demonstration. But everyone gazed at the boats in wrapt attention, noted the glittering brasswork, the grim looking guns, and other appurtenances which go to make the vessel more dangerous and more difficult to purchase. The admiration held them.  AT SOUTH HEAD. (1913, October 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved  from

VOYAGE FROM JERVIS BAY. THE RECEPTION. SEEN FROM THE FLEET(From our Special Commissioner on board H.M.A.S. Sydney.Late on Friday night the fleet was some 30 or 40 miles east of the Australian coast. Going on deck for a breath of air before turning in, one found the quarter-deck pitch black. Only aft, under the low awning, the dark shield of the after six-inch gun stood out against a restless waving light reflected in the silky water of our wake. From where I stood the lights that caused that reflection were in



visible-shut out by the awning. But as one moved towards the stern they came into view-the sidelights, masthead lights, and steaming lights of the Encounter. Far away on the beam was a set of faint white lights, low on the water; a second set, and a third, at intervals, astern of it. One know that those were the destroyers. Indeed, we were far outside the route of coastal traffic. After leaving Jervis Bay the destroyers, which at first had been astern, had been ordered to take station parallel to the fleet. In the morning they were still there, moving steadily about a mile abreast of us, and the En-counter's ram was sawing the water, as it had done all night, just 350 yards astern of us. In short, we were steaming as a fleet, in close order, an event which did not often happen in the training of the old Australian squadron, but which will be a constant part of the training of the new.


It must have been some time between 6.30and 7 o'clock, and the white light of morning was streaming in through the port, when, looking out, one could see that we were al-ready close in to the land. A heavy mist hung over it, and made the distance difficult to Judge, but through it one could make out dimly the form of what seemed to be North Head. The request to the Admiral had been to make the entry to the Heads at 10.30, and so the fleet altered course again, and the land soon vanished In the mist. Those who saw the arrival of the American fleet will remember that a special request was sent to Admiral Sperry by wireless to make the coast at Maroubra, which he agreed to do. The American fleet, on arrival at this spot at dawn, turned up the coast, and was about to enter the Heads, some two hours earlier than was expected, but was induced, by urgent representations of those who boarded the Connecticut with the pilots, to postpone the entrance until the time arranged. He accordingly turned his fleet to sea, and, after standing out for some distance, led his line round and entered the harbour. It is a curious coincidence that a very similar course was taken by the Australian fleet five years later. Owing to the heavy mist, however, the ships were not seen from the South Head signal station.

It was about a quarter past 8 when the flag-ship turned a complete half-circle to port. This time the destroyers took station astern of the Encounter; and the whole fleet, in single line ahead, steamed back along the course which it had just travelled, and made for Sydney Heads. At the time when we turned in again North Head may have been about 20 miles away.

I was in the Sydney's engine-room, taking a last look at the marvels there, when the telegraph rang to stop. When a ship stops or goes astern or alters speed, that is all the engine-room knows about it. Why she should stop or quicken or slacken speed is no concern of theirs. Possibly we were altering course again, and had to reduce speed in doing so. That is no affair of the engine-room. All they know down there is that the turbines must stop. They will remain stop-ped until they are told to go again.. Then somebody turns one wheel-just one large wheel in a corner somewhere, the same which they turned when they stopped her-and the ship goes ahead.


By the time we reached the deck the fleet was moving as before. The mist was rising now, and far ahead of us we could make out the line of the South Head cliffs. Beneath them could faintly be seen the smoke of some steamer coming out. To the south-east were one or two other smudges of brown smoke. They seemed to be making towards the port. By the brown cloud of smoke they were evidently hurrying. It was one of the big sea-ports of the world that we were coming to, and as we neared it the signs of its traffic increased. But one speculated for a moment what business merchant steamers could have in that particular direction. It was not a  trade route to anywhere, except the South Pole. A small coaster, bound for some North Coast inlet, steamed down along the whole line before turning north upon her proper errand. We could see the skipper and the mate leaning over the bridge to watch us, whilst the cook and most of the hands leant over the rail below. A motor launch or two coughed past. The first steamer that we had seen ahead had a curious list to port. As she came nearer we noticed a peculiar mass of dark colour covering the whole of her portside, bulwarks, deck, uppen works, piled even high up the rigging.

And then, with a flash, it came upon one, that it was not the Hawkesbury that this steamer was bound for. Those fuming black smudges to the south-east were not making for Sydney. They were making for us. I doubt if there were many in the fleet who realised until that moment that we were really the centre of attraction. It was only bit by bit, as sight after sight opened out, that there was driven in upon one the full impression of this reception. The excursion steamer was passing us by this time. Across the water we could hear them cheering-hats were waving, handkerchiefs flying. We were Sydney's namesake and I had been long enough in the ship to know that the fact means something to her. Those cheers did not go unappreciated.


It was just about this time-we were about five miles east of Sydney Heads-when some-one first noticed, using a strong glass, a certain dark fringe above the edge of some of the cliffs at South Head. Looking again one was convinced that it was just the grassy slope which surmounted the Heads. Following the skyline with the glasses towards the south one saw that this same shaded line was there, too-rising and falling with the edge of the cliffs until it ran out into the haze in the direction of Bondi. The suspicion did just enter one's brain that it might be...    but I took another long, hard look, and a friend who was standing by me and who was far more used to telescopes than I, agreed it could not be . . .But it was. A few minutes later there was no doubt of it. The whole skyline was crowded with forests of people. Every shoulder and summit was black with them. One followed the line of them without a break past the lighthouse, past the signal station, down the rim of the Gap, until the ship's side shut out the further view. By this time every person, who was not officially supposed to be seen, was off the ship's deck. The full guard was paraded on the quarterdeck. The sides were lined with seamen in blue serge and straw hats. An officer, in engine-room rig, came to the side for a moment. Someone told him that the crowd on the Heads could be seen. "Then it's time for me to get out of  sight," he said, and dived down to his work  again. A few moments later the same door, into which he had disappeared, opened ever so little, and two heads with the sweat of hard work on their foreheads, appeared at the chink.    

I saw them there again afterwards at intervals, until we moored. But this time, when we were close under South Head, and the cliffs around the lighthouse were swimming slowly past our field of view, one head came out further than the other, and, after taking in the scene with one comprehensive stare, turned to its mate. "Fahsands, Bill, Fah-sands," it said.    

AT 10.30 EXACTLY.    

It was exactly 10.30 a.m. by my watch when the flagship turned round the Hornsby light and into Sydney Harbour. The Melbourne, Sydney, Encounter, Warrego, Yarra, and Parramatta followed her in that order. The cruisers were keeping station at 2½ cables, and the destroyers at 1¼ cable. And those of us who will live to see this fleet expanded to six times its present size will never see station more prettily kept than in this first fleet as it entered its home harbour. The intervals at this point were practically perfect. All the ships were "dressed" as far as any ship dresses when she is at sea. That is to say, they carried the Australian flag at the fore and the White Ensign at the main. In the flagship the Rear-Admiral's flag flew side by aide with the blue Australian ensign on the foremast.  

I have never seen Sydney Harbour look truer to itself than on this day. The sun was shining, the water was blue, the foreshores were bathed in light. As we opened it out we could see first the craft lined up off Middle Head, three Manly ferry steamers all heeling at a heavy angle, the Kubu, the Captain Cook, boats of all sorts and sizes. Then came the masses of people on the inner slopes of South Head, masses at Bradley's Head, masses at Mosman, masses in Rose Bay. There was a good deal of interest onboard as we passed the naval reserve drawn up at Garden Island. But it was not until we caught our first glimpse of the Domain and of the slopes of Government House grounds that the full force of the spectators was realised.

"I thought we had seen all Sydney at the Heads," an officer said to me, "but where do these come from?"


As we turned Bradley's we had seen the flagship steaming through wreaths of smoke from her own guns as the Rear-Admiral in command of the arriving Australian fleet saluted with 17 guns the Admiral commanding in chief. Afterwards we saw the Cambrian returning the salute with 13 guns for a Rear-Admiral. Then the flagship, the Melbourne, and the Sydney at the same instant reached their buoys; two destroyers swept past us to Farm Cove. A third turned in off Garden Island. The Encounter was moving past us on the other beam to take a position off Neutral-Bay. She had to signal some small fry there that she was turning to starboard. Presently we saw her port anchor splash and the rust running out of her hawse-pipes. A lather of water came forward along her side as she went astern to swivel her two cables.

So long as it is free to move and go about its business, a fleet does not cover itself with strings of flags. But the signal had been made that the fleet was to be dressed as soon as the ships were secured. The Encounter had scarcely let go her second anchor, and the Sydney's hawser was just on the buoy, when the signal was given, and the whole fleet burst in a second into a mass of colour.

HMAS Sydney, courtesy State Library of Victoria.


It is no exaggeration to say that those onboard were honestly surprised by the reception. By some of those in authority it has perhaps been looked forward to-as to my knowledge was the case in the American fleet also-with mixed feelings. The flagship and the Sydney have now had a procession of fetes lasting over two months, and the fleet feels, as the American fleet did at the end of a similar cruise, that it ought soon to be getting to work. It is not easy for young seamen to perform work for which they have been only half trained, and there are many young sea-men in this fleet. Over and above this, the rigging of ships for illuminations, the opening of ships to visitors, and the attendance of certain shore functions, such as the review, gladly though they are undertaken, entail an amount of trouble of which people ashore have not the remotest conception. The display which was given to the spectators last night, when the ships flashed suddenly into light, was only attained by constant hard work, which began at Albany and was continued at Jervis Bay. All the time, although routine is necessarily broken, the ordinary work of the ship has to go on; and when it is explained that a single six-inch gun is such a complicated affair nowadays that it takes two men half an hour a day to keep it clean, and it must be kept clean unless the Australian navy is to Join the same class as that of Turkey, It can be understood what that work is. For that reason, when the pre-sent week is over officers and men will probably welcome a quiet spell in which the necessary instruction can be given, and the ships can fit themselves to make the good showing which all on board desire them to make, when gunnery and other results come to be compared with those of the mother navy. Fleet week in Sydney is looked forward to as a sort of grand finale of the festivities. It means a great deal to this fleet to know that it has the whole country behind it. The reception in Sydney has been looked forward to with a great deal of curiosity and interest.


And there is no question that the fleet was impressed by it. It is said that the Admiral was honestly delighted. And amongst the officers, even with those who were inclined to be somewhat sceptical as to fleet weeks, the sentiment was summed up in an expression of honest admiration which I heard from more than one, "Well, they've done this thundering well."

There are hundreds of Sydney men in these ships; and they could not help being pleased with the remarks which fell around them, and in their hearts they endorsed every word. For the harbour was simply radiant. As launch after launch, crowded with laughing faces and gay colours, swept round the ships one could not help wondering if there were any setting in the world so fitted for such a scene.

"I've heard a lot of Sydney," said one of those whose kindness had made the past three days a thorough holiday for me, as he looked round over the glancing water. "I've heard a lot, but-the half was not told me." FROM THE SEA. (1913, October 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

Although there are volumes of material on all that led up to and all that happened on this day of days for Sydney, final words here go to the gentleman who we suspect fell in love with Australia and her peoples and would encourage a fledgling navy and give credit where credit was due:

ADMIRAL SIR G. F. KING-HALL. FAREWELL TO AUSTRALIA. Melbourne, October 24. Admiral Sir George King-Hall left -Melbourne yesterday in the steamer Demosthenes. In saying good-bye to Rear Admiral Sir W. R. Creswell from the steamer’s gangway he sent the following message to the people of Australia:-'I hope the country will never forget what she owes to Admiral Creswell and all that he has done for her in the last twenty-eight years." ADMIRAL SIR G. F. KING-HALL. (1913, October 25). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 21. Retrieved from

Our Final International Fleet Review 2013 prelude will be a look at the days of events and celebrations that accompanied the Australian Fleet's arrival.


1. W. G. McMinn, 'Reid, Sir George Houstoun (1845–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,

From Colonial Navy Brigades in Second Hand Ships to Where the Australian Navy was Born – The Practical Verses of William Rooke Cresswell’s Charter - International Fleet Review 2013 precursors - Article II

First Naval Exercises by New South Wales Colonial Ships – The Wolverene at Broken Bay - International Fleet Review 2013 precursors - Article I

HMAS Australia moored off the Man O'War Steps, circa 1919 - the steps are still situated at the western end of Farm Cove adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Opera House on Bennelong Point where Fort Macquarie once stood. The steps were reconstructed in 1973 to coincide with the opening of the Sydney Opera House but their origins date to the governorship of Lachlan Macquarie, between 1810 and 1821, when a stone jetty and steps were constructed for the movement of military stores and personnel to and from Man O'War anchored nearby in Sydney Harbour. The Steps were transferred from the Royal Navy in 1913 to the then newly formed Royal Australian Navy and after some 60 years control was then transferred to the Maritime Services Board of NSW, now Sydney Ports Corporation.

‘Endeavour ‘ was the motto of the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy – H.M.A.S. Australia, to honour Captain Cook’s ‘Endeavour.

 The Arrival of Australia's Navy in Sydney Harbour - 4th of October, 1913 threads collected by A J Guesdon, 2013.