Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Navy - Freedom of the City March

Up again bright and early we’re off to the march and the Royal Australian Navy exercising its right of entry to Sydney. We have theatre tickets this afternoon, so we’re making a day of it!

We opt to park in the Opera House car park which is always convenient, and we head straight for The Rocks where the sailors are marshalling and the formal ceremonies are taking place. Approaching the promenade on the western side of the quay it is a sea of white uniforms.. As we arrive at George St/Hickson road there are some obviously official persons milling about, some decked out in their ceremonial swords. We’re ahead of time for the posting of the guards. One obliging fellow poses for a photo.

Soon enough, the guard forms up and we’re underway.

Down the road a bit the ceremony for presentation of the royal colours is taking place. There’s too many people between us and the ceremony for a good view but the benefit of arms raised above my head I manage a snap of what’s currently going on LOL

Lots of presenting of arms and standing at ease orders later and the Colours move out to the guard and we are treated to the formal salute with the snippet of the national anthem.

The Governor General, Quentin Bryce, looking lovely in smiles and blue with a matching broad brimmed hat, moves past for her duties down at the ceremonial square accompanied by the official party including Sydney Lord Mayor – Clover Moore in black with gold symbols of office..

The Governor General proceeds to review the guard, stopping to speak to selected individuals as time permits. While all this is going on the band is playing. First they torture my sinuses by playing “I am Australian” and follow up with a full rendition of Waltzing Matilda – of course!! Finally the GG heads off out of the way no doubt to watch the upcoming challenge with the rest of us.

The mounted police move into position to form a barrier. The Police Commissioner and his offsider – Deputy Commissioner perhaps? – with their ceremonial decorations move across to speak to the police officers before milling around with the other participants while some reforming takes place among the guard, they need to form themselves into marching formation of course and not wanting to look like a rabble this requires a string of orders.
Finally, the Lord Mayor joins the Police Commissioner and they stand ready facing the Naval Officers preparing to make the challenge. The look like they feel a bit silly, and the Police Commissioner glances at his palm card nervously. Eventually the challenge is issued and answered. When the Police Commissioner acknowledges the right of the Navy to pass and bids them welcome on behalf of the citizens of Sydney the crowd gives a cheer.Formalities over the Police Commissioner and Lord Mayor turn away, the offsider making a formal marching turn and the parade is about to begin in earnest.

Finally the parade moves out, much to the satisfaction of the crowd. HMAS Parramatta leading because they currently hold some trophy or other. The lady next to me, whom I have been chatting to off and on, points out her son who is serving on Parramatta. Three sons, this lady had two join the Navy and one the Police!! Wow. That must be a mixture of great pride and anxiety.

On they come chests positively bristling with medals. I was aware that the Navy is pretty much continually on active deployment around the place, but so many medals everywhere really brought that home. HMAS Sydney followed not long after Parramatta, then the land based contingent, HMAS Creswell, HMAS Albatross (home of the Air Wing – of course!), HMAS Watson (located in Watson’s Bay); and HMAS Penguin (another on the shores of Sydney Harbour).
HMAS Anzac was somewhere early in the piece, but my video doesn’t say what time it was taken. It was early enough that I had not yet determined that the cheering must limit the video opportunities. LOL

Then come more from the ships with HMAS Kanimbla, it’s central line of marchers from the Army with the wonderful slouch hat and rising sun badge.

HMAS Waterhen is next. No separate ID for the cute little HMAS Bandicoot and HMAS Wallaroo. I suppose their crew must have marched in among the group…. HMAS Manoora .. looking up George St it is a river of white…

Next is HMAS Tobruk, a “landing ship heavy” built in Newcastle. I don't remember seeing her on the review tour of the harbour.. ...then HMAS

Kuttabul It’s terrible, I’m torn between the desire to photograph and video and the desire to cheer. Cheering wins! ...well mostly anyway

HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius were in there somewhere too and managed to qualify for video seeing as they involved musical accompaniment. You remember of course HMAS Sirius is the big freighter ship and HMAS Success is another “replenishment” ship.

HMAS Melbourne (sister ship to HMAS Sydney – how appropriate) is along now followed by HMAS Ballarat.(Anzac class guided missile frigate). I worry about the ergonomics of the way the young woman is carrying the .. name buoy thingy.. looks very awkward…HMAS Stuart follows then HMAS Darwin, another Adelaide class frigate – another sibling for Sydney and Melbourne).

Now HMAS Newcastle another Adelaide Class frigate…then HMAS Huon – you remember don’t you, state of the art minehunter…LOL and indeed the ship to give name to it’s class! She’s followed by sister ships HMAS Hawkesbury and HMAS Gascoyne.
My final video for the proceedings – who knows where in the parade precisely, but it was somewhere down the back – leads onto those hardiest of sailors – the submariners of HMAS Farncombe. My apologies for the jumping around of the picture I guess I must have just got overexcited and tried to clap or something :o)

Now some the awe inspiring navy clearance divers or more officially titled “Australian Clearance- Diving Team One”.
HMAS Norman follows on – another Huon class which seems out of order perhaps, but I guess we’re still talking mine warfare.. HMAS Yarra and HMAS Diamantina more Huon sisters.

And with that the parade has passed….

We wander around for a bit, walking back across to East Circular Quay we are co-opted to take some photos for a young French sounding couple. Eventually we end up back in Walsh Bay and grab a bite at the Sydney Dance Café. Very nice. A unique ambience as you listen to the music and instructions of the dance class upstairs. These old finger wharves are certainly atmospheric and we make yet another note to spend more time loitering in the dining spaces around here.

We take our time to collect the car and head on up to Belvoir street for a leisurely drink in the bar before the show. Today we are seeing “Baghdad Wedding”. Very good. Quite graphic in both sexual references and violence. Very good but emotionally a rather draining.
Dinner is a gourmet pizza and penne carbonara at .. hmm… Wood and Stone on Crown Street. (they also have an outlet in Manly). We are also rather fond of Erciyes nearby but I just couldn’t face Turkish after the subject matter of the play.. silly perhaps but there you go. We walk back to the car, parked on Elizabeth St and the sky is threatening. It’s been a very hot muggy day and as is typical a thunderstorm is about to break. Summer having a last fling ..No sooner do we close the door than down she comes and it is POURING rain. We had toyed with seeing a movie – what can I say – this is the year of hedonism – but opt for an early night.

It’s been a great couple of days. Thankyou NAVY!!

Monday morning it was good to be at work and thanks to the slaving on this blog I think I was even able to at least identify the class of various ships as they headed down the harbour and out through the heads with the harbour sparkling and blue in radiant sunshine... and I enjoy my view of Garden Island much better now I can put a name to the ships moored there....

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