100 Yrs Since Departure of Australian Expeditionary Force from Sydney

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Tuesday, August 12, 2014


On 19 August 1914, an Australian expeditionary force sailed out of Sydney Harbour bound for German New Guinea. The departure was barely 15 days after Britain's declaration of war on Germany.

Enlistment of the infantry based Army contingent was completed at Victoria Barracks, Paddington and further preparation and training occurred at the nearby Agricultural Showgrounds. The over 1,000 strong contingent of soldiers would later march down Oxford, College and Macquarie Streets to Fort Macquarie - the current site of the Sydney Opera House - to be ferried to Cockatoo Island. Six companies of Naval Reserve sailors from four states, each of about 50 men were concentrated separately.

Within a month, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) suffered Australia's first casualties of the First World War, whilst securing German possession in the Pacific. It was an operation organised solely by the Australian Government. The landing at Gallipoli, the following year has achieved prominence in Australian folklore, however the events that occurred near Rabaul have been largely forgotten.

To commemorate this historic event, the New South Wales Government is holding a service on Sunday 17 August 2014, commencing at 12.25pm at Government House. The event will commence at Government House with an address to the cadets by Rear Admiral Raydon Gates and re-enactment of the march from Government House down Macquarie Street. Members of the public are welcome to watch the cadets march down Macquarie St.

This will be followed by an official ceremony on Cockatoo Island at 2.00pm. The ceremony will take place at Sutherland Dock, with an address from Vice Admiral Tim Barrett. Members of the public are welcome to attend the official ceremony.

Cockatoo Island is a 25 minute ferry trip from Circular Quay, or 10 minutes from Darling Harbour.

Please remember ferries will be operating on a Sunday timetable.

Due to the close timing and change of location, members of the general public are encouraged to view the cadet march from Government House or the official ceremony at Cockatoo Island.


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