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General William Booth (1829-1912)
Founder of The Salvation Army.
Passenger on the SS Wimmera, May/June 1905.
Detail from Postcard. Author’s Collection.

General William Booth, the founder and 1st General of The Salvation Army, at the age of 76 years, crossed Bass Strait on the Wimmera in June 1905. It was during a world tour which included visits to the Holy Land, Australia, and New Zealand. It was also his fourth and final journey to Australasia, having visited previously in February-May 1899, September-November 1891 and from January 1884.

Amongst the Wimmera’s most influential passengers in terms of our social and religious history was General William Booth, the founder and head of the Salvation Army. At the age of 76 years, during the course of a world tour that included the Holy Land, Australia, and New Zealand, William Booth joined the Wimmera in Hobart on Thursday 1 June 1905 on a passage to Melbourne. He was originally scheduled to train from Hobart to Launceston however this plan was cancelled due to the railway line being blocked by flood. Several chains of the main line had been washed away as a result of some of the heaviest flooding for a number of years. The General and his entourage, comprising Colonel Lawley, Commissioners McKie (the head of the Salvation Army in Australia) and Nicol, Majors McMillan, Cox and Carpenter and Ensign Palmer arrived in Melbourne on Saturday 3 June 1905.

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Australian Headquarters, The Salvation Army
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

This was Booth’s third and ultimately final tour to Australia and New Zealand, having previously visited from September to November/December 1891, and from October to (December) 1895.
On this occasion, General Booth arrived in Australia at Fremantle from Colombo on Tuesday 4 April 1905 aboard P. & O’s mail steamer Victoria. The vessel’s stay at Fremantle was brief and it departed shortly thereafter for Adelaide where Booth disembarked to formally begin his tour.
His itinerary included … Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Kalgoorlie (where he planted a tree in front of the Salvation Army Barracks) & Boulder City..
General Booth during his stay in Wellington will be a guest of Sir Robert Stout and the Rt. Hon. Mr. Seddon will preside at his lecture in Wesley Church.
New Zealand Free Lance, Volume V, Issue 250, 15 April 1905, Page 12 Papers Past
Together with his staff, Major Cox, Commissioner Nichol & Colonel Lawley, he departed Perth on his return to England per the RMS Mongolia on Tuesday 4 July 1905. He was farewelled by many followers to whom he gave a farewell address and, waving his hat, called his final words “Goodbye Australasia! God be with you!
The following day was the 40th anniversary of the Salvation Army. It was on the 5th of July in 1865 when the then Reverend William Booth ‘conducted his first meeting in a tent on the Quakers’ burial ground, Mile End, London.’
He then proceeded to tour of New Zealand in April/May, returning once again to Australia where he travelled from Sydney to Brisbane (then to Hobart/Tasmania) before returning from Hobart to Melbourne aboard the Wimmera. It was a tiring schedule during which he attended numerous receptions and addressed numerous meetings.

Following the General’s tour of New Zealand in April/May he returned to Australia where he travelled from Sydney to Brisbane (then to Hobart/Tasmania) before returning to Melbourne aboard the Wimmera. During his visits he attended numerous receptions and addressed numerous meetings.

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