Postcards of Sydney’s South Head

There are many picturesque locations around Sydney Harbour and it is perhaps no accident that South Head has received more than its fair share of postcard views over time. The topography lends itself to broad sweeping views of the Harbour and of the ocean. Here is a selection of views of this location which stress both the picturesque qualities of the site and also some historic elements.

Star Series view of the Harbour entrance and cliffs c1909

Star Series view of the Harbour entrance and cliffs c1909

Sydney Harbour is actually a drowned river valley and this explains many of the physical features of the Harbour, its many sheltered bays and the depth of the water. South Head was a desolate location, the land rising rapidly from water level to a high point (over 350 feet/ 110m) near the location of the lighthouse, windswept, covered in low scrub and rocky outcrops and, until the development of ferry and tram services in the early part of the last Century, relatively inaccessible. Some of these qualities remain to this day.

Kerry card of Macquarie Lighthouse c1909

Kerry card of Macquarie Lighthouse c1909

During the Golden Era of postcards prior to WW1 “The Heads” were the first feature and also the last feature to be seen as people arrived and departed Sydney by ship. Mass airline travel was an unimaginable development then. Few visitors arrive in Sydney now by sea and the visual impact of the yellow sandstone cliffs at first light of dawn is now reserved for a handful of privileged visitors on cruise ships.

US battleship Connecticut enters Harbour in 1908. South Head in background

US battleship Connecticut enters Harbour in 1908. South Head in background

The commanding views from the site made it the natural place for crowds to assemble when great public events were taking place. The American Fleet visit of August 1908 was a case in point.

Crowds departing after arrival of American fleet August 1908. Lighthouse at extreme left. Trams are saturated with passengers.

Crowds departing after arrival of American fleet August 1908. Lighthouse at extreme left. Trams are saturated with passengers.

Other fleet visits by American and British ships were also witnessed by spectators at South Head. The military found the topography of South Head highly suitable for establishing coastal artillery batteries with interlocking fields of fire across the entrance to the Harbour. Remains of these batteries can be seen today. Other key man made features include the Signal Station and Lighthouse – these features too are prominent on postcard views.

Carlton - North view from Lighthouse showing Harbour entrance and Signal Station c1929

Carlton - North view from Lighthouse showing Harbour entrance and Signal Station c1929

Trips to South Head and environs were once listed in the Trips Around Sydney booklet issued by the NSW Government Tourist Bureau. In 1912 for a 4d tram ride you could traverse some of Sydney’s most beautiful residential suburbs, visit the Ostrich Farm and inspect the Lighthouse (on production of orders obtainable at the Tourist Bureau ! ). The return journey could be made by ferry (from Watson’s Bay wharf) or tram. The tramway had been extended from the terminus at the Signal Station to Watson’s Bay in early 1909.

Crowds departing after arrival of British fleet 1924 (Private view - Signal Station)

Crowds departing after arrival of British fleet 1924 (Private view - Signal Station)

The Ostrich Farm was established by a Mr Joseph Barracluff, one time Mayor of Waverley and noted tramway lobbyist in the Eastern Suburbs. The Farm was widely advertised in its day and cards of the business are relatively common in collections today. It was located between Old South Head Rd and Military Rd, Diamond Bay.

Plucking a feather at the Ostrich farm.

Plucking a feather at the Ostrich farm.

New South Wales Government Tramways : The City and Suburban Lines – Introduction

The New South Wales Government Tramways (NSWGT) operated from 1879 to 1961 and was one of the largest passenger transport undertakings in the English speaking world. This system of Sydney street railway lines grew during a 50 year expansion phase and was the product of the NSW Colonial, later State, Government. For most of its existence it was under the control of the Railway Commissioners of NSW.

Pitt St at King St crowded trams en route to Railway. c1910

Pitt St at King St crowded trams en route to Railway. c1910

Fort Macquarie depot (Site of present day opera House)

Fort Macquarie depot (Site of present day opera House)

The Commissioners were charged with the responsibility of running the system as a business of the State. They did not have control of line development, this was the province of the Minister for Public Works and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. Developmental lines, particularly those in the distant suburbs, were funded by the Works budget and several lines were approved in the full knowledge that they would not prove economic in the short term. Many of the lines established during the late 19th Century ultimately proved to be highly economic, eg the Bondi Line. This corridor remains to this day one of the most lucrative lines for street based public transport operation in Sydney and is one of the few corridors to operate at a higher frequency than during the first tramway era.

Sydney CBD

Sydney CBD

The core of the system was known as the City and Suburban Lines . It radiated out from the heart of the City of Sydney on the southern side of the harbour. Another system known as the North Sydney Lines operated on the lower North Shore and several outlying isolated lines connected with the main railway system at the following stations -Parramatta, Arncliffe, Burwood, Sutherland and Camden.

Sydney Suburbs

Sydney Suburbs

Electrical Section Randwick Tramway Workshops c1910

Electrical Section Randwick Tramway Workshops c1910

The City and Suburban Lines served the developing suburbs that formed around the City core. With technological progress they evolved from steam operation to electric traction during the first decade of the 20th Century. The first full time electric service was built along George St City and Harris St Ultimo. It proved remarkably popular and soon became saturated with peak period passengers destined for the main railway station, then known as Redfern, later rebuilt and renamed as Central (1906). The degree of overcrowding was such that a loop relief line to Central was opened in 1901 along Pitt and Castlereagh Sts.

Circular Quay Morning Peak Hour activity in mid 30's

Circular Quay Morning Peak Hour activity in mid 30's

This line was to become arguably the most intensively used section of tramway in the world as it connected the busy ferry wharves at Circular Quay through the linear form of the emerging City to Central Station at the southern margin. From a tentative annual patronage of some 10m in 1903/1904, the Pitt and Castlereagh St loop grew to an astonishing 30m passengers per annum by 1931. This figure was obtained just prior to the opening of the Harbour Bridge which caused a reduction in ferry services to the Quay and consequent loss of patronage to the loop service.

Ryde Opening Day 1910

Ryde Opening Day 1910

As line extensions developed into far-flung suburbs and the propensity of the population to use the trams grew, the City Lines ultimately became saturated. Saturation was notable prior to the First World War, but was not actively addressed by the State Government until the underground railway construction program of the 1920’s.

Elizabeth St City c 1935

Elizabeth St City c 1935

The standard Sydney tram was an 80 seat vehicle known technically as an O or P class tramcar. During peak periods many of these vehicles operated as coupled sets (“double trams” to the public) and were crewed by two conductors and one driver. The crew pattern gave rise to an approximate operating staff to seated passenger ratio of 3:160 or one staff member to 53 passengers. A better ratio than is achieved by contemporary STA bus operations where the respective figures are 1:43 passengers for a standard Sydney bus.

Broadway near City Rd Intersection Sydney University Commemoration Day c1906

Broadway near City Rd Intersection Sydney University Commemoration Day c1906

War Memorial Tempe depot

War Memorial Tempe depot

Carlton Studios Darlinghurst

One of the more prolific Sydney photographic studios in the interwar years was Carlton Studios of Darlinghurst. At least 6,000 images of Sydney and suburbs appear on Carlton cards. A small selection of images follows. Carlton recorded events as well as popular locations and so the visual legacy of his work is strongly historic in nature. Like many post card publishers he returned to the same location over time to photograph and so the images also become an invaluable record of urban change.

No 292 Sydney Harbour Bridge nearing completion c1932

No 292 Sydney Harbour Bridge nearing completion c1932

Carlton Studios are listed in “Australians behind the camera – Directory of Early Australian photographers 1841 – 1945”, by Sandy Barrie with two addresses in Darlinghurst Rd Sydney. They are:
No 53 from 1926-28
No 149 from 1936-38

No 3242 Study of QVB and George St

No 3242 Study of QVB and George St

The period 1929-1935 is not accounted for in this reference work yet it is known that Carlton was active during this period as he photographed the introduction of new tram cars to the Sydney system in October 1933.

No 2078 First Trolleybus Sydney 22 January 1934

No 2078 First Trolleybus Sydney 22 January 1934

No 3137 Apollo statue Archibald Memorial in Hyde Park c 1932 ?

No 3137 Apollo statue Archibald Memorial in Hyde Park c 1932 ?

No 3050 Elizabeth St Sydney (showing a P class tram heading to Circular Quay).

No 3050 Elizabeth St Sydney (showing a P class tram heading to Circular Quay).

The numerical sequence of the images is not consistent as an image clearly taken near the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge has a very low number – 292. Many Carlton cards have handwritten text “Carlton series” ‘D’ Hurst” Sydney Copyright, in cursive form in the lower left or right corner of the image. Later cards (?) have an abbreviation to CC and many of the negatives appear to have passed to a company known as “Mowbray Series Scenic and Historic views” in the late 1930’s and post WW2 era.

No 3144 George St Sydney (at town Hall looking south after (?) railway works)

No 3144 George St Sydney (at town Hall looking south after (?) railway works)

Many of the views appear as “sepia” (decomposing ?) images some are black and white. No tinted cards have been observed as yet.

No 3090 George St Sydney (at town Hall looking south showing underground railway construction)

No 3090 George St Sydney (at town Hall looking south showing underground railway construction)

Any additional information about this Studio and their work would be appreciated by the author. I can be contacted on [email protected]

No 6027 Brighton Le Sands Beach NSW

No 6027 Brighton Le Sands Beach NSW

Tinted Sydney 1905-1914

A variety of subjects and locations have been chosen to illustrate this article. Most of these tints from the pre WW1 era are highly saturated.

Tinted photo postcard views of Sydney provide a window upon the past in a manner that is often striking to the modern eye. We are not used to viewing images of the past in colour. Especially the recent past just beyond living memory.

Tinting is the application of colour by hand to the image during the development process.

Sailing Boats on Sydney Harbour

Sailing Boats on Sydney Harbour

During the Golden Age of postcards (1900-1914) tinting was used in Sydney to produce a range of vibrant images, approximate visual reality and to differentiate postcard stock at retail outlets. During the pre WW1 postcard boom it provided employment opportunities in the many postcard companies that flourished in Sydney.

Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf

A practice of colouring evolved where horizons were always tinted in a warm colour to suggest either sunrise or sunset. A spot of red was often employed to draw attention to a figure and occasionally photographer’s assistants were employed to deliver foreground interest and human scale to the image. Warm and cool colours were used and examples of both colour approaches using an identical image do exist.

Circular Quay

Circular Quay

Tinted images were available in a variety of intensities. The more successful tints appear as light washes giving a rather de-saturated look to the image. A proficient colourist could select appropriate colours to wash onto the image in a way that made the result a convincing work by modern colour standards.

George Street

George Street

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach

Often the tints used were applied with a strong view to colour accuracy. Excessive tinting resulted in a more “psychedelic” look. When intense colour was used a less realistic image resulted, odd especially to contemporary eyes. Images that have chemically decomposed usually result in unusual effects and make for more abstract impacts.

1908 US Fleet Visit

1908 US Fleet Visit

In many ways a well tinted image can be as effective as a modern colour photograph in conveying a sense of visual reality to a viewer. Colour images on cards in any form during this time were a rarity. The cards were small, portable “works of art” usually retailing for about 3d each. The equivalent of a tram fare from Bondi Beach to the City.

Central Railway Station

Central Railway Station

Little Coogee (now Clovelly)

Little Coogee (now Clovelly)

No two tints for an identical image are the same. Endless variations ensure that collectors are often confronted with difficult choices whenever they buy examples ! Tinting was done on a production line basis and often young women were employed to perform the task. The mass production method used makes finding quality examples all the more surprising.

Church at Waterloo

Church at Waterloo

The work of tinting staff or colourists is evidenced by the following comments of a Harrington’s staffer (A Moore) in a c1907 card to friends in NZ :
“I am at present engaged at Harringtons as colourist. We colour these cards at 3 shillings a gross. Of course the firm make a big profit on this again. We do all sort of cards, scenic, animal, flowers, actresses and child studies. Private cabinet photos are charged at the rate of 6d each wholesale. But I think I could do them cheaper than that. Although quantity has a great deal to do with the prices. I average about 170 post cards a day, but sometimes they are very greasy, and will not hold the colour at all.”

Newtown Bridge

Newtown Bridge

The words of this colourist suggest that firms employing say 10 experienced staff could produce up to 10,000 images per week. (ie 170 per day per employee for a 6 day week).

Tourist Sydney 1912

Tourism is now a major industry in Australia and it may seem hard to imagine that it, in one form or another, has been with us for well over a century. During the early years of last century the NSW Government Tourist Bureau issued booklets entitled “Trips around Sydney” for visitors.

These Guides now provide a comprehensive window on Sydney during the Edwardian era with useful information on transport, accommodation and related services.
The Tourist Bureau was located in Challis House, Martin Place, just opposite the GPO.

Martin Place where the Tourist Bureau was located

Martin Place where the Tourist Bureau was located

The following selection of images from period post cards illustrate some of the locations listed in the 1912 Guide. These images show how the world looked to the Sydney visitor in that era.

Sydney map

Sydney map

Some Recommended Trips

Here is a selection of recommended trips. These were not always to scenic locations by todays standards !, however the beaches and naturally the harbour feature prominently …. The “(2d)” etc refers to prices in pence.

19. Ferry – Circular Quay to Milson’s Point (1d) whence trams leave for Mosman (4d); Spit (4d), Extension Bridge (2d).

Milsons Point

Milsons Point

18. Ferry – Circular Quay to McMahon’s Point (1d) whence trams leave for Crows Nest, Gore Hill, and Lane Cove (3d); Chatswood (3d). Extensive views of city and harbour.

McMahons Point

McMahons Point

28. Circular Quay to Manly (ferry 4d) – a delightful trip down the harbour (7 miles) past the heads and Quarantine Grounds on the right, to the Village with its harbour and ocean beaches. Manly is the most popular watering place about Sydney. Its numerous and varied attractions affording amusement and pleasure to all. The home of dual surf bathing. Good boating, fishing and driving. The Cardinals palace and St Patrick’s College are located here. Trams meet each boat and convey passengers through the village along the ocean beach to North Manly (1d), and Brookvale (3d) and Narrabeen (6d).

Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf

22. Circular Quay to Mosman’s Bay (2d) by boat, one of Sydney’s prettiest bays, tram thence to Military Rd (1d) and Spit (2d) or back to Milson’s Point (4d) and ferry to Quay (1d) or return direct from the Spit to Quay by ferry (4d).

Mosmans Bay Wharf

Mosmans Bay Wharf

7. Circular Quay to Dulwich Hill (tram via George St) – past Prince Alfred Hospital, Victoria Park, and Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution, through Newtown and Enmore (2d); Marrickville and Dulwich Hill (3d); the homeward journey may be made by returning to Marrickville and joining the train for Sydney (4d), or by a short walk from the terminus at Dulwich Hill, join the tram via Addision Road (3d), or by walking to Summer Hill (4d), Petersham (3d), or Stanmore Railway Stations (3d), join the train back to Sydney Station.

Dulwich Hill

Dulwich Hill

A line branches off at Enmore to Addison Road, traversing Addison Road, Marrickville, and Canterbury Road, Petersham (1d), following Addison and Canterbury Roads through portions of Marrickville and Petersham to the terminus of the Dulwich Hill tramway.

From Newtown Bridge the tram branches off to St Peters (1d); rail back to city (2d); or to Cooks River (2d) close to Tempe Station, and rail to Sydney (4d).

Newtown Bridge

Newtown Bridge

Sydney Railway Station

Sydney Railway Station

31. Clifton Gardens are served by a daily ferry (Sydney Ferries) from No 4 jetty Circular Quay; return fare (6d)., children 3d. The Gardens which are one of the most delightful spots in Sydney Harbour, have extensive sandy beach, unsurpassed picnic grounds, and cover over 12 acres. Boarders can be accommodated in a thoroughly up to date hotel, which is within a few minutes walk of Bradley’s Head Rd, containing some of the finest private residences of beautiful architectural design in Mosman, and commanding an unsurpassable view of Sydney Harbour, the Heads, and the eastern suburbs. The Amphitheatre baths are the finest in the State.

Clifton Gardens

Clifton Gardens

14. Circular Quay to Waverley, Bronte or Bondi, tram (3d).

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach

– Along Oxford St, through Paddington, past the Victoria Barracks and main entrances to Centennial Park. At Bondi Junction the tram line divides – one branch going to Bondi, with its glorious stretch of beach and up to date swimming baths, and the other, the Waverley-Bronte line, may be taken to its terminus, Bronte, on the coast, where a pleasant picnic ground is situated.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

On the right is passed the Waverley Cemetery, and further on is Little Coogee with fine natural swimming baths. The walk from Bondi along Military Rd towards South Head will enable visitors to enjoy some of the finest views of Sydney Harbour and islands that can be procured.
By taking the Waverley – Randwick branch at Albion St, Waverley (1d) a pleasant round trip may be made, either out to Coogee (2d) or back to town (3d).

63. Stanwell Park is one of the most beautiful spots on the South coast with a fine surf bathing beach encircled by magnificent hills. It has a unique combination of mountain and seaside scenery. Only just over an hour from Sydney. Quick cheap direct train service. First-class accommodation available.

Stanwell Park

Stanwell Park

Central Railway Station

Central Railway Station with its slender clock tower has long been an iconic building in Sydney.

Rooftop view from southern edge of city c1929. Carlton series.

Rooftop view from southern edge of city c1929. Carlton series.

The station dates back to the Edwardian era when railway investment by the State Government was substantial and around 20 % of the entire state workforce was employed by the NSW Railway and Tramway Commissioners.

Clock tower - incomplete c1920. PWF series.

Clock tower - incomplete c1920. PWF series.

Original wooden booking hall 1906.

Original wooden booking hall 1906.

The prominent position to the south of the city centre makes the structure highly visible from the Railway Square precinct and along the axis of Wentworth Avenue.

View from Railway Square c1921.

View from Railway Square c1921.

Opened on 4th August 1906 the building has been modified by the addition of extra levels (c1910) and the clock tower in c1921.

First Locomotive at new station 4th August 1906. Anchor series.

First Locomotive at new station 4th August 1906. Anchor series.

Eastern entrance to electric platforms c1926. Samuel Wood

Eastern entrance to electric platforms c1926. Samuel Wood

Central Railway Station - the main concourse.

Central Railway Station - the main concourse.

In October 1914 a passenger count at Central indicated an average of 85,000 arrivals per weekday, 93,000 on Saturdays and 40,000 on Sundays.

Passenger train departure c1908. Cave/Hurley series.

Passenger train departure c1908. Cave/Hurley series.

Unusual view of carriage storage area and watertank c1906. Perry.

Unusual view of carriage storage area and watertank c1906. Perry.

During this era railway and tramway passenger traffic in Sydney was increasing at roughly 13 per cent per annum. On a typical weekday some 55 trains departed during the peak hour – 5 to 6 pm.

Central Electric Platforms Ticket Office c1926.

Central Electric Platforms Ticket Office c1926.

The assembly area - main concourse - in c1906.

The assembly area - main concourse - in c1906.

Passenger volumes through the facility remain impressive and the Station was once connected to the down town area by a tram service operating along Pitt and Castlereagh Streets to Circular Quay.

Tramway colonnade outside the booking hall c1906. Kerry tint.

Tramway colonnade outside the booking hall c1906. Kerry tint.

Prior to the development of the underground railway from 1926 – 1932 the tramway service carried over 30m passengers per annum.

Street level view from southern edge of city with policeman in foreground c1906. Anchor series card.

Street level view from southern edge of city with policeman in foreground c1906. Anchor series card.

In 1997 trams returned to the site with the introduction of the light rail service to Pyrmont – Ultimo.

Night view Eddy Avenue Coronation lights 1911.

Night view Eddy Avenue Coronation lights 1911.

Sydney Ferries

The following images show some of the vessels used on Sydney Harbour since 1900. Many of the images are colour tinted as was the practice in Edwardian days.

Sydney Ferries advertising card (reissued in 1930's)

In common with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House the ferries that ply the harbour are iconic symbols of Sydney. Most tourists manage a trip on a ferry usually to Manly or the Zoo. Ferries predate both land-bound icons by many years and were once a key means of transport linking North Sydney and the City.

Lane Cove

Lady Ferguson c1930

Sydney now has a large fleet of ferries, some 30 in all, operated by Sydney Ferries.

Dee Why c1928

Circular Quay

The ferries link Circular Quay at the northern end of the city centre with points on the lower North Shore, to the west along Parramatta River and to Manly. Today some 36 peak hour trips are run by Sydney Ferries. The ferry companies were once privately operated and progressively came into public ownership from 1951 onwards.

Circular Quay

Middle Harbour

During the Government Tramway era the ferries connected with trams at numerous points around the harbour. The most impressive ferry/tram interchange by far was located at Milsons Point.

Lavender Bay

Neutral Bay

Neutral Bay

During peak times prior to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge ferries departed Milsons Point every six minutes. The ferries used on this run were high capacity vessels capable of carrying loads of 2,000 passengers. (About the equivalent of 9 full tramcar loads – O class double sets).

Neutral Bay

Neutral Bay

Lane Cove

Lane Cove

Ferry technology has developed over several generations and the mass passenger loadings experienced during the inter-war years prior to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 were serviced by vessels designed for rapid turnaround and high capacity. Multiple entrances/exits and double ended propellers ensured rapid loading and unloading at wharves.

Mosman

Mosman

Greetings from Sydney!

Greeting cards have been in use for many generations. Early twentieth Century Greeting Cards were usually posted from, and often depicted, favourite tourist locations. There are however some examples of non-tourist locations in the views selected for this article.

During the era prior to the First World War greeting cards were available for small localities such as ordinary suburbs in Sydney. This was an era when people travelled only small distances for work and recreation. Cards were often sent to adjacent suburbs – multiple mail deliveries per day and a reliable postal system ensured effective communications in the largely pre-telephone era.

This selection of period greeting cards demonstrates the rich variety of design styles and early use of tinted colour. Some of the images are sepia or black and white. Featured in this article are cards from Leichhardt, Dulwich Hill, Marrickville, Kensington, Randwick, Manly, Balmain, Mosman and even one from George Street. Clearly Manly and Mosman were favourite tourist locations – but the same cannot be said of George St or Leichhardt !

Each card contains a topographic element for the relevant locality. Some are composites with a variety of views presented. For suburban locations principal views usually include the local post office, main street, church or public buildings, railway station or tram terminus.

Naturally these cards can act as a simple catalogue for future purchases and also give an indication of other cards in the series that are (hopefully!) out there waiting to be found.

Unfortunately not all greeting cards identify the producer or photographer. This adds an element of mystery to their origin.

The quality of greeting cards was highly variable. Some of the cards were made by well known firms of the day eg Crown Studios in Sydney or certain UK publishers.

Note the use of colour on the Balmain card. It appears very modern to contemporary eyes. This card was posted to France and survives in very good condition as it was placed in an envelope.

It is perhaps ironic that many cards sent locally survive in a poorer state than those sent abroad – the protective envelope assisting in preserving the best features of cards posted to far away places long ago.

Bondi Junction

The following images illustrate Bondi Junction – long the key retail and commercial centre in Sydney’s East.

Cowper St Bondi Jn looking south c 1910. The horse drawn waggon is carrying building supplies.

The name derives from the fact that the centre was a tramway junction for just on 76 years from 1884 to 1960. Initially steam trams operated to and through the centre but by 1902 the lines had been electrified. In time the Junction benefited from three tramway spines linking the developing retail core with residential areas to the south, east and west. Trams would terminate there and return to the city or continue on to eastern destinations such as Bondi or Bronte Beaches. In addition a cross suburban line from Coogee Beach terminated at the Junction.

Tramway signal box and real estate agents shop are prominent in this 1917 view.

Methodist Church built on the former Woollahra side of Oxford St. Demolished in mid 1970’s to make way for shopping centre expansion.

The trams had much higher passenger capacities than the buses that replaced them and were capable of lifting and depositing thousands of potential customers there. All other “Junctions” in Sydney have a similar tramway heritage. The popularity of Bondi Junction is evidenced by the extensive strip retailing along prime approach roads and images demonstrating high pedestrian activity at tram stops.

NSW Olympic Theatre c 1912. Forerunner of several theatres built in and around Bondi Junction.

Interior view of NSW Olympic Theatre c1912.

The images selected show key buildings such as the Methodist Church – once the tallest building at this point, recreation facilities – Olympic Theatre, and retail strip shopping on Oxford Street and Cowper Street (now Bronte Rd). One image, most probably taken during the end of the railway and tramway strike in August 1917, shows passengers swarming aboard a tram headed for Bondi.

Crowds swarm aboard an O Class Tram bound for Bondi. Winter clothing and the use of a single tram car suggests this view dates to the end of the 1917 strike in August of that year. The tram car number also supports that interpretation as it was not allocated to the nearby Waverley Depot.

Transport Impacts of the American Fleet Visit 1908

The arrival of the US Great White Fleet in Sydney during August 1908 prompted massive passenger loadings on all transport services in the City. Rail, ferry and tram services were stretched to the limit carrying sightseers on the arrival day and during the many events that occurred during Fleet Week. The following selected images give an idea of the crowds experienced during that time – reminiscent in many ways of the recent Sydney Olympic period during 2000.

Huge Crowd at Watsons Bay tram terminus - near Lighthouse

At the time of the visit of the US Fleet on 20th August the Watsons Bay tramway terminated short of the village of Watsons Bay – on the sandstone ridge near the principal lighthouse. The line was totally saturated on the arrival day with over 42, 000 passengers being carried on 279 tram trips in about 12 hours. Many adventurous passengers managed to ride on the roof of the trams – not exactly the safest way to travel as the electrical current passing through the trolley poles was in the order of 600 volts ! An estimated crowd of 250,000 watched the arrival through the Heads.

Heavy Passenger Loading at Rose Bay - crowd returning after fleet entrance

The image of the 2 Marine Officers posing at the front of a steam tram was taken by a member of the US forces. It is a private image issued on a postcard. The remaining images were commercially available during the Fleet visit period – probably on issue before the Fleet left Sydney.

Heavy Passenger Loading at Rushcutters Bay - crowd returning after fleet entrance

Many ferry passengers were carried with contemporary reports claiming over 2 million passengers carried during the week – out of a city wide population of only 500,000.

Birchgrove Public School Ferry outing on Sydney Harbour - Boys at front and girls at rear of vessel

It would be many years before an event of such magnitude was to befall Sydney again.

Two US Marine officers posing at the front of a steam tram at Moore Park Sydney