Public holiday: the Library will be open on 3 October. View opening hours

HMAS Australia

Wreaths for HMAS Australia

A recently acquired album of amateur photographs shows the scuttling of HMAS Australia (1)* off Sydney heads in 1925.

The battle cruiser HMAS Australia (I) was the Royal Australian Navy’s first flagship. On the morning of 4 October 1913, she led the new Australian fleet (the cruisers Melbourne (1), Sydney (1)  and Encounter, and the destroyers Warrego (1), Parramatta (1), and Yarra (1)  into Sydney for the first time.

Equipped with eight 12 inch guns (capable of hurling a projectile over 25kms) and fourteen 4 inch guns, HMAS Australia (1) was the most powerful vessel of any European navy in the Pacific and announced the RAN's arrival as a force.

At the outbreak of World War I Australia (I) operated with the Australian fleet to deter Admiral Graf von Spee’s German East Asiatic Cruiser Squadron. As Prime Minister W.M. 'Billy' Hughes later declared, 'but for the " Australia (I)" … the great cities of Australia would have been reduced to ruins, oversea trade paralysed, coastwise shipping sunk, and communications with the outside world cut off".

HMAS Australia (1) was then assigned to North Sea operations until the end of World War 1 and led the port column of the Grand Fleet at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in the Firth of Forth, Scotland.
As a result of the Washington Arms Treaty, which aimed at reducing global tonnage of warships after the Great War, HMAS Australia (1) was towed to sea by tugs and sunk 50 km from Inner South Head, Sydney, on 12 April 1924.

The album will be catalogued at PXA 1380/v. 1

*There have been two warships called HMAS Australia. Australia (1) indicates the first ship with that name.

Alan Davies