Tuesday, 3 February 2009

55 years ago: The Queen arrived in Australia

For once I must give thanks to The Age. Today's edition of the Melburnian newspaper reminded me that 55 years to this day, the Queen of Australia, who was proclaimed on 8th February 1952 and crowned on 2nd June 1953 had arrived in Australia.

On 3rd February 1954, the newly crowned Queen became the first reigning Australian Monarch to step ashore on Australian soil when the royal barge tied up at Farm Cove in Sydney.

For the next two months, until her departure from Fremantle, WA, the Queen's visit provided Australians with a chance to celebrate and demonstrate their loyalty.

Almost three-quarters of the Australian population took advantage of the opportunity, seeing their Queen at least once during the visit.

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra lists facts and figures from the 1954 royal tour:
510,000 pounds approximately in total contributed by the federal government
500,000 miles registered by the cars of Royal Visit Car Company
200,000 pounds contributed by the federal government for the use of the yacht Gothic
200,000 people filled the streets in the city Sydney when decorations for the royal tour were illuminated for the first time
96,475 pounds spent by the Federal Government on decorations and illuminations for Australian towns and cities visited by the Queen
20,000 cars participated in the gridlock that choked the city of Sydney when decorations for the royal tour were illuminated for the first time
10,000 air miles travelled by the Queen
10,000 cartons of canned fruit from Shepparton taken aboard Gothic
5000 cartons of tomato juice taken aboard Gothic
3237 bags of milk powder taken aboard Gothic
3200 passengers travelled by air during the Royal Tour
2000 road miles travelled by the Queen
1500 cases of canned meat taken aboard Gothic
600 hours flown by the RAAF
363 flights made by the RAAF
257 civil air flights
207 car journeys made by the Queen
130 hours spent by the Queen in motor cars
100 speeches made by the Queen in towns and cities she visited
57 hours spent by the Queen in aeroplanes 35 air flights by the Duke
33 air flights by the Queen
20 tons for freight in total for civil air passengers
5 engagements per day

This clip shows Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arriving in George Street, Sydney, on Wednesday 3 February 1954. They are greeted by a huge, excited crowd. The Queen lays a wreath on the cenotaph at Martin Place.

Australia Post provides a vivid report from the Royal arrival
Sydney was the first destination in the Queen’s 1954 visit to Australia, and there was a great deal of anticipation and excitement preceding her arrival. In this clip we see the pride of the Post Master General's department at the time, the Sydney GPO, as well as an array of other city buildings, festooned and decorated in honour of the visit. Most of the buildings in the Sydney CBD had been decorated for the occasion. Two nights before the arrival of the Queen, all the royal tour decorations were illuminated for the first time. On that night, an estimated 200,000 people and 20,000 cars had filled the city streets to view the spectacle.

On the day of the Queen’s arrival, she landed at Farm Cove at 10:33am. It was a perfect summer day, and at least half a million people positioned themselves on every foreshore vantage point between North and South Heads and the Harbour Bridge. From there, they watched the Royal Yacht, the Gothic, sail into Sydney Harbour and viewed the Queen stepping off the royal barge at Farm Cove. In this clip, we see the royal motorcade make its way down George Street to Martin Place. It was estimated that a million onlookers lined the city streets. The footage gives an indication of the thrill and exhilaration felt on the occasion, not just by the crowds of spectators, but by the media personnel involved. At Martin Place the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh place a wreath on the cenotaph, and receive a tumultuous cheer.


Cornelius Yakov said...

Thanks for reminding us of the historic visit of Queen Elisabeth II to Australia and for the great Video clip that you have posted.
Canada as well Australia both remain 'semper fidelis" to Her Majesty!
Vivat Regina! God save the Queen!

May said...

A very enjoyable post... Thanks.