Forging the Nation - Federation: the First 20 years

The Great White Fleet

Celebrations for the arrival of a United States Navy fleet in Australia in 1908 had been surpassed only by those conducted for Federation. The Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, ignored Britain's concerns and overlooked protocol when he invited the Americans to visit. Sixteen warships were a dramatic presence when they arrived in Australian waters. In Sydney 80,000 people stood on South Head to watch them enter Sydney Harbour. Crowds, parties, speeches and parades greeted the fleet at each port it visited.

cartoon_09.jpgWhat a time we are having!
From The Bulletin 20 August 1908, pg 5. By permission of National Library of Australia.

PROP 01894The Great White Fleet
Great excitement accompanied the visit of the United States fleet in 1908, and many souvenirs were produced to mark the event. The American sailors liked Australia too: over 300 of them deserted while in Australian ports.
AWM PROP 01894

PROP 02028AWM PROP 02028

P0044/72/71Greeting the United States fleet.
Australians gave the US fleet a tremendous welcome when it visited Sydney and Melbourne in August-September 1908. The large white ships were a reassuring sight to those who were nervous of Asia, particularly Japan's growing naval power. AWMP00044.071