The First Fateful Shot: Port Phillip Bay, August 1914

Shortly after midday the gunners at Fort Nepean lined up the German merchant steamer – the SS Pfalz – as it bolted towards the heads and fired the first shot in a terrible war that would last four long years and scar the world.

How was Australia placed at this moment in history? What were the views of the people and the government of the day? Was our military prepared or equipped for what lay ahead? These and many other questions were posed and answered at this unique conference event.

Hosted by the historic Fort Queenscliff Museum, The First Fateful Shot: Port Phillip Bay, August 1914 examined the lead-up to the outbreak of World War I from the Australian perspective, and the events of 1914 including the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landing at Rabaul and the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago.

A tremendous range of speakers were convened by FQMA President and MHHV Secretary, Jason McGregor, for this unique conference event including Dr David Day, Dr Janice Croggon and Dr Dale Blair.

Held at the Queenscliff & Point Lonsdale R.S.L. on Saturday august 2 the delegates were welcomed by MHHV Patron Major General Jim Barry, AM, MBE, RFD, ED (Rtd) and the conference was opened by MHHV President and Conference Chair, Colonel Marcus Fielding.

The full conference program is available here


Major General Jim Barry, AM, MBE, RFD, ED (Rtd), Patron MHHV Inc.
Conference Opening.
Colonel Marcus Fielding, Conference Chair and President MHHV Inc.


Keynote Speaker.
Dr David Day, Honorary Research Associate at La Trobe University.
Paper – Taking Australia to war ‘to our last man and our last shilling’
Dr Janice Croggon, Senior Historian, The Sovereign Hill Museums Association
Paper – “Are you going too?” The great adventure… Ballarat at the outbreak of the First World War 1914-1915.


Session Chair: Dr Jim Wood, RFD, ED (Colonel Rtd), Vice-Patron MHHV Inc.
Dr Dale Blair, Historian and Author.
Paper – A war worth fighting: Australian enlistment motivations in 1914 – 1918
Dr Peter Yule, FRHSV, Research Fellow of the History Department, University of Melbourne.
Paper – WL Baillieu, the Collins House mining companies and the ‘trading with the enemy’ controversy of 1914.


Session Chair: LTCOL David Millie, MBE (Rtd), President, Queenscliff & Point Lonsdale R.S.L.
Keith Quinton, Author, AAHU/FQM Volunteer.
Paper – The First Shot – 1914 Misperception, Miscalculation, Truth
Ms Toni Munday HMAS Cerberus Curator.
Paper – ANMEF & the Battle of Bita Paka – a different perspective


Session Chair: Mr Jason McGregor, Conference Convenor, Secretary, MHHV, President, Fort Queenscliff Museum Association.
Squadron leader Steve Campbell-Wright, RAAF
Paper – Fledglings: Australia’s military aviation and preparations for war.
Dr David Stevens, Director, Sea Power Centre – Australia.
Paper – Emden beached and done for.


Close of Day – Conference Chair.

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