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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 144 – Our journey

- 144 – Our journey has taken us to Goa, India, through the Suez Canal, on to Alexandria and to the magnificent pyramids of Giza, Cairo, (amid a local bombing!) and the experience of having countless hawkers keen to fleece you of every last Egyptian pound you have shout “Gift, gift! Gift for you!” as an item is placed in your hand “Now you give me money!” Obviously the word “gift” has another meaning in Egypt!!! To get on a camel and go for a ride was relatively cheap and fun experience however, getting off said camel was considerably more pricey! Crete proved to be a fantastic port for both the gigs and the food (despite the poorer than average exchange rate of the Aussie dollar to the Euro (to make our dollar worth around 50 cents!) The opportunity to perform public concerts in two buildings (the Venetian Arsenals in Crete and the Conservatorium Turkish Mosque in Rethymno) of at twice (closer to three times) the age of modern Australia was phenomenal. We played (via our bus expertly negotiated narrow back streets) at a concert hall (previously a Turkish mosque) in the locality-city of Rethymno. The Mayor (a musician himself) was astounded at the talents of our detachment and despite the language barrier of a good majority of the audience the Mayor gave up on translating our commentary and sat back and enjoyed the show with the rest of the crowd. The Mayor was so impressed in fact, that he was reluctant to let us stop playing! The biggest surprise was near end of the night however, when one local member of the audience stood up from her chair and yelled out “play Jimmy Barnes’ Working class man!!!!” We were more than happy to oblige! All of the official guests, including us, were then subsequently treated to a feast at Rethymno’s top restaurant all at the Mayor’s expense, but that is a story for another time and another of my favourite parts of the deployment. Having been one of the three Anzac detachment members that participated in the 2004 ANZAC day ceremonies at Anzac Cove, the opportunity to repeat the opportunity was one hard to fathom. Istanbul was much more relaxed experience and at one point in the best spirit and tradition of our last year’s tour guide; “Mert”, I dragged members of the ship’s company (thankfully much to their delight) on a free tour around the Grand Bazaar and other sights of Istanbul. Oh and the Grand bazaar… did I mention the Grand Bazaar? I can only imagine the economic boost HMAS Anzac had over the week she spent anchored off Istanbul in the Bosphorus Strait. Ninety members of ship’s company formed a skeleton crew on ANZAC day morning as the remainder of the crew boarded ferries and HMAS Anzac’s RHIB in turns to make the journey ashore to Anzac Cove. It was eerie feeling thinking that this would have been a very similar view of the Cove that the Digger’s would have seen ninety years ago. Leading Seaman Aaron Geeves, Able Seaman Damian Dowd and Able Seaman Andrew Hansch had the honour however, of being in Anzac Cove on Anzac Day as members of the crew on HMAS Anzac providing the music for the Anzac Day service held on board. The “Festival of the Sea” at the Turkish resort town of Marmaris was a fairly event filled stop over. There were ships and representatives from the USA, UK, French, Italian, Russian, German, Ukrainian, Turkish, Greek, Romanian and Spanish Navies as well as ourselves. Having the smallest parade contingent did not deter the local crowd from giving the Australians the biggest cheers of the day. We performed every day in various capacities: performing marches and jazz at the Australian Navy (HMAS Anzac) stall at the International Seafaring Exhibition. We also performed with the Russian Navy Band in the Armatulan district: They were very impressed by the performance of our detachment’s comparatively tiny (to the Russian Navy’s 60 piece contingent) Jazz Group. We then played Australian Rock songs to the excited crowd (including the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop who seemed to be enjoying herself more than anyone!) at the Areena night-club to end the week’s festivities. On to Malta and to Toulon in France where we all took some well deserved leave and dissipated over the country-sides of France and Spain to meet up with the ship in La Coruña Spain. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 145 – HMAS Anzac detachment of musicians has up to and including La Coruña Spain performed: 1 Freedom of Entry March (Albany) 3 memorial services on board (Kanimbla Helo crew, ANZAC day and the AE2 submarine) 4 memorial services ashore (Crete) 1 open day 1 Maritime Commanders Divisions (Stirling) 8 Cocktail parties (Albany - Australia, Goa - India, Alexandria - Egypt, Chania -Crete, Istanbul - Turkey, Valletta - Malta, Toulon - France), La Coruña - Spain) 7 Ceremonial Sunsets 1 Marching display (with guard) 2 Anzac Idol heats 25 Wakey wakeys 12 Procedure Alphas 2 Official receptions 1 Wardroom function 10 Public Concerts 3 Commanding Officer’s luncheons 4 Replenishment’s at Sea 3 Sail pasts (including the memorial sites on the headlands of Gallipoli) 10 Countries’ National Anthems and; 2 local songs: the Black Sea march supplied by Turkey and Rianxiera by Spain. The officials and guests of both countries were very impressed by our renditions of their local songs of which all sang along with great gusto, the Turkish Chief of Navy in fact, asked for an encore! I have to admit that some of my very favourite parts of the deployment did occur whilst I was on leave. I had the opportunity to travel to Paris and see some of the world’s greatest artworks at the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel tower (where I did have one of many chocolate croissants) and I climbed the Arc de Triomph (all 284 stairs). I strolled along the tree lined Siene and Champs d’Elysees. All the things I had imagined about Paris… the food (I did not however eat frogs legs or snails) the sights, the stylish (and those who think they are stylish) people, the extravagance, the expense! Catching the train through the provinces and across the Pyranees and the Spanish border to Barcelona where the fantastic (in the truest sense of the word) constructions of the master architect Gaudi were on every street corner. In Madrid I visited Picasso’s most famous, massive and moving painting “Guernica” (of the unprovoked bombing of the small Provencal town of that name). I also attended a bullfight in Madrid (which I will have to explain in depth at another time) which was, at the very least, a fascinating insight into Spanish tradition and custom. Others in our detachment travelled into Italy, to Monaco, into Provencal France and Spain and even back to Malta. As I walked with one of my shipmates from the train station to meet up with the ship in La Coruña (we had no idea where the ship was berthed) we crossed a large overpass and through the buildings I could see HMAS Anzac lit up like a Christmas tree. It was strangely like coming home. At the halfway point of the deployment it feels like we still have a seemingly long way to go before we are “home” home, but if the first half of the deployment is anything to go by the next half will be truly amazing! Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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