Mateship – Australia & USA: A Century Together
Australia’s long relationship with the United States has produced many interesting connections that continue to fascinate, even though some of these go back more than 100 years. Military exploits are a big part of this list – but there are many others connections across different levels that are just as interesting. Here are five significant ways the two nations are connected and some interesting facts about each.
In August 1908 the then Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, was so impressed with the marvellous spectacle of the visiting US “Great White” Fleet that he remarked:
We live in hopes that from our own shores some day a fleet will go out not unworthy to be compared in quality, if not in numbers, with the magnificent fleet now in Australian waters.
During the 1960’s a close relationship developed between the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt and the American President Lyndon Baines Johnson. During a White House Visit in 1966 Holt proclaimed that he was “all the way with LBJ” – a remark that was received with mixed emotions back home.
The celebrated 1918 Battle of Hamel was launched on 4th July – American Independence day – and this date was deliberately chosen to recognise the American troops who were fighting alongside the Australians for the first time.
In 1983 Australia was delighted to win the iconic Americas Cup – arguably the most famous yacht race in the world. The losing American Skipper, Dennis Connor, later reported that “it was a bit like losing the Panama Canal – suddenly everyone appreciated it.”
Australia remains a favoured destination for Americans on the move – with a steadily increasing trend over the last decade. In the year ending June 30 2007, 423,000 Americans made the trip Down Under. For the same period in 2017, this number had jumped to over 700,000.
Australian poster-boy Paul Hogan headed up a 1984 tourist campaign designed to attract American attention. His “slip anther shrimp on the Barbie” became famous and resulted in Australia reaching number 3 on the “most desired” destination list for Americans.
Entertainment coming out of America was to have a profound influence on Australia through the cinema, music, dance – and of course television.
American music was embraced in Australia, particularly from World War Two when “swing music” became highly popular.
Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra captivated Australia during the 1950’s, just before American “rock” burst on the scene, producing one of the great musical revolutions of history. Elvis Presley was the heartthrob of many young Australian girls of the era.
And it wasn’t all one-way traffic – AC/DC is a Sydney rock band that sold 200 million records world wide, including 71 million albums in the United States.
Television opened the door to America in a way never seen in books or cinema and Australians became quickly entranced with the exotic way of life depicted in the land far away across the Pacific.
In its first decade, Australian television consisted largely of material imported from the United States and during this time nearly every TV drama screened in Australia came from America.
By 1966 the average Australian was watching 30 hours of television a week, sustained by a steady diet of I Love Lucy, Jungle Jim, The Texas Rangers, Bonanza, Robin Hood, Perry Mason, Davy Crockett and Sea Hunt.