photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
This image taken by Henry King shows the return of the New South Wales Contingent in June 1885 after their deployment to Sudan to support the British campaign. The troops are seen arriving at Circular Quay watched by a large crowd of onlookers, many with umbrellas.
The contingent consisted of an infantry battalion of 522 men and 24 officers and an artillery battery of 212 men. It had departed with great fanfare on 3 March 1885. The New South Wales Contingent were the first troops accepted from the self governing colonies to fight with the British. The war was short lived and the Australian troops saw little action, working primaily as guards on a railway line which was being constructed across the desert. In May 1885 the British government decided to abandon the campaign. The New South Wales contingent sailed for home on 17 May 1885.
The troops arrived in Sydney on 19 June 1885 and spent 5 days in quarantine at North Head where one man died of Typhoid. After disembarking the troops marched to Victoria Barracks and stood in the pouring rain to hear speeches by various dignitaries (who were presumably under cover).
Photography by Henry King studio (85/1285-464)
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