Freedom of Entry Parade visits Double Bay

Published: 27 May 2019

On Saturday 25 May Woollahra residents joined with their neighbours, family and friends at the weekend to witness, ‘swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying’ as Royal Australian Navy personnel exercised their Right of Freedom of Entry in Double Bay.

The origins of granting ‘Freedom of Entry’ to armed forces has a centuries-old historical significance. In modern times, it’s considered as conferring the highest distinction possible on a contingent of the Australian Defence Forces.

The celebration of the service of the men and women training at HMAS Watson involved a formal parade along Bay Street and around Guilfoyle Park. The 2019 Freedom of Entry marked the fourth parade by representatives of HMAS Watson, with the first held in Double Bay in 2001.

HMAS Watson, located at South Head, is the Royal Australian Navy's premiere maritime training facility. More than 400 RAN students train at Watson each year, and range from Commanding Officers who are heading back to sea in Command of a major fleet unit through to junior Combat System Operator Sailors undertaking their first courses following recruit training.

Captain John Stavridis ADC, Commanding Officer of HMAS Watson, said experiencing his first Freedom of Entry as the Commanding Officer of a shore establishment was a unique experience.

“Sailing into a city and being granted Freedom of Entry is special but to represent Watson, a fixture in the local community since the 1940s, is truly unique,” Captain Stavridis said.

“I was honoured to lead our Navy people into Woollahra - I hope the residents are as proud of Watson’s contribution to serving Australia as we are to be linked to their community.”

Mayor of Woollahra, Peter M Cavanagh said we are so grateful for the excellent working relationship we have with HMAS Watson.

“We’re proud of HMAS Watson’s role in defence, peacekeeping missions and in local activities and events including its annual Christmas carols,” the Mayor said.

“Thanks to all who joined with us in appreciation for the service men and women based there, and honoured their dedication, commitment and loyalty.”

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