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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 136 – We spent the

- 136 – We spent the day at Bulimba Barracks, first working through the material they had put together, then rehearsed with the Queensland detachment for the combined commitments celebrating Queensland’s 'Navy Week' including: a Cocktail Party hosted by HMAS Tobruk and a public concert in the Roma Street Parklands. The Official Reception following the Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset in front of the Brisbane Town Hall involved the Brisbane Naval Cadets, HMAS Tobruk Ship’s Company forming the Guard and Parade and a Marching Display by the combined band detachments. The Navy Week Church Service and Open Day for HMAS Tobruk ended the week in which HMAS Tobruk saw over 2500 interested members of the public over the Gangway. With barely any time spent on HMAS Tobruk thus far, we secured our equipment, went about completing newly acquired orientation booklets and proceeded to undertake navigational exercises: get from point A to point B without getting lost! Whilst in transit to Port Vila, rehearsals with the Guard for the Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset to be held in Port Vila commenced on the vehicle deck and a major damage control exercise (a fire in the main engine room) was called in which Able Seaman Tom Bastians, Seaman Ellen Zyla and myself were made into some scarily convincing casualties! Procedure Alpha into Port Vila saw some lily white knees (thank goodness for sunglasses) and soon a steady stream of ship’s company was emptying out onto the wharf and into town as we made preparations for the night’s cocktail party. Fortunately for all, the impending rain showers held off and the Beat to Quarters, Ceremonial Sunset and Cocktail party was a great success. Port Vila saw us attain some welcome time off in various locations. Catching the free ferry over to Iririki Island to swim at the coral beach and in the resort pool then retire to the restaurant to pretend you’re a millionaire all for the cost of your lunch proved to be a favourite amongst Ship’s Company. Some went on sunset yacht dinner cruises, some went bush but most ended up at one time or another at Hide Away Island. You have to love Port Vila’s free ferries and two dollar mini bus fares! A five dollar Island entrance fee allowed the bearer to sit leisurely on the beach and/or snorkel on the reef teeming with marine life and the world’s only underwater post-office (waterproof postcards and all!) for as long as you wished (or as long as the sun screen lasted.) The Port Vila markets proved bountiful for many of Ship’s Company, especially the coconut bras, grass skirts and muumuus favoured by some member’s of the HMAS Tobruk Rugby team! HMAS Tobruk’s Rugby team, including Able Seaman Marcus Salone (not wearing a grass skirt or coconut bra by the way), fought valiantly in the local Rugby grudge match to win four tries up. On a more serene note, Mele Cascades showcased the pinnacle of Port Vila’s natural beauty. Crystal clear water and a gentle hike through the rainforest via numerous water steps and rock pools emerged at a spectacular waterfall. Although cooler than the local sea temperature the refreshing clear water, beautiful scenery and a massage courtesy of the falling water was well worth the comparative chill. Back to steaming in the big blue finding quite a few speed humps along the way! The swell had emerged overnight and the crew of HMAS Tobruk bobbed their way through a hilarious day at the races; HMAS Tobruk’s contribution to the Melbourne Cup horse racing festivities. Able Seaman Jennifer Monk started proceedings with the National Anthem, Able Seaman Marcus Salone sounded the horses to the track and HMAS Tobruk was off and racing! Seaman Ellen Zyla put in a spectacular effort as a jockey in the second race on horse number three, coming a close second last; but the winner of the “Tobruk Cup” for the second year running was romped in (despite being drenched by a rather icy water hazard) by the Senior Sailor’s mess on horse number four, jockeyed by me. Able Seaman Heather Wright, Able Seaman Tom Bastians and myself helped dispose of 4000 Steyr rounds off into the horizon participating in a small arms shoot off the vehicle deck with the Boatswains Mates and other qualified members of Ship’s company. Needless to say, it took no time at all to dispose of the rounds, and who knows what the fish were thinking! Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 137 – We took part in café party, and helping in the galley as well as entertaining the crew with well thought out “wakey wakey” routines (a favourite being “The Little Drummer Boy” sung by the Quarter Master Able Seaman Michael Malone accompanied on Parade Drum by Able Seaman Heather Wright) when not being involved in Band related activities. Norfolk Island proved to be both the hardest and most rewarding commitments to achieve. Getting the equipment to the flight deck from the tank deck and all of it and us onto the helicopter deployed with HMAS Tobruk for the Official reception at the Governor’s residence was quite an evolution. Thanks to the help of the New Entry Officers Course (NEOC) “roadies” and the Aviation Team ferrying our gear to the helicopter in two flights and two utility vans driving us once we were on land, we were set up and ready to play. The Official reception promptly concluded at 1900 and we were off to the Norfolk Island RSL for a bit of welcome rock band music for the crew of HMAS Tobruk who warmed to the occasion providing us with a mosh pit of dancers all night! All of the ship’s company were warmly and eagerly adopted by the locals and a brilliant time was had by all! A special thankyou to Commander Ashley Greedy AM (RAN, rtd.), Terence Grube, (ex Lieutenant Commander, RAN), “Pinky” and all the locals on Norfolk Island on behalf of the musicians and Ship’s company for all the help and support they gave to make HMAS Tobruk’s visit to Norfolk Island an enjoyable and successful one. (I’m sure Norfolk Island’s economy is looking much healthier in return!) A second big night at the RSL wrapped up the visit to Norfolk Island and our equipment had to go back to the HMAS Tobruk the same way it came over, on the helicopter via a surprise circumnavigation of Norfolk Island courtesy of the flight crew (and a big thankyou to all of you as well.) Lord Howe Island, like Norfolk Island was without sufficient berthing, so again the helicopter was utilised for the Ceremonial contingent from HMAS Tobruk for Remembrance Day on Lord Howe Island. We joined forces with a contingent from the Air Command Band along with members of HMAS Tobruk’s company (Navy and Army) and Tri-Service Guard and Catafalque party from Sydney saw a large military presence. Although a small venue, a crowd gathered and nothing was small about the sentiment of the occasion. The entire contingent then moved to the Lord Howe Airport to celebrate the 30 th anniversary of the opening of the airport. At the end of official proceedings, HMAS Tobruk’s ship’s company were able to do a small amount of sightseeing, albeit in uniform. Most, at some point, ended up at Ned’s beach for the fish feeding, which all in “whites” must have looked a sight to the locals! Our last commitment was to partake in was HMAS Tobruk’s “Ship’s Concert” shortly before returning to Sydney. Many and varied acts came forward, but there could only be one winner at the end of the day. Major Bennet won the judges over with her stirring rendition of “Hogan’s Heroes March” on the trumpet and coming a close second were the member’s of the girl’s messes with a heart felt version of “I Will Survive” (original lyrics supported by the musicians). Coming an even closer third place was solo artist Leading Seaman Steward Tye Williams, with his expertise of blowing the conch shell! (Tye subsequently got lynched into doing “wakey wakey” the next morning!) Procedure Alpha into Sydney (with not so white knees anymore) spelt the end of our short deployment. We made many, many new friends and I personally cannot speak highly enough of the way Commander Nick Bramwell and the entire crew of HMAS Tobruk made us feel welcome. There is unfortunately not enough time or space to share all of our experiences, escapades and photographs in this article but I am sure any of the members of the band who joined HMAS Tobruk would be more than happy to share some if asked! The musicians deployed in HMAS Tobruk were: Petty Officer Kara Williams, Able Seaman Tom Bastians, Able Seaman Jennifer Monk, Able Seaman Vitali Rayitsyn, Able Seaman Tim Rees, Able Seaman Marcus Salone, Able Seaman Heather Wright, and Seaman Ellen Zyla. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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