Posts

The Regatta became the greatest attraction of the anniversary. In 1838 the Sydney Gazette detailed ‘numerous crowds of gaily attired people, attended by servants and porters…bearing the supplies for the day’s refreshments… wending their way towards the water’s edge’. People crowded the decks of three steamers, ‘each decked out in their gayest colours’. Four Australians had hired one of them, the Australia, to take their friends out on the harbour. The raising of its flag drew ‘the most deafening and enthusiastic cheering’. It was the NSW ensign — a white British ensign with a blue cross bearing five white stars — which the Australian newspaper expected would become ‘the emblem of an independent and a powerful empire’ within fifty years. Though not quite in the way the paper imagined, the flag would become an important Australian symbol by the end of the nineteenth century.