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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 152 – The group was

- 152 – The group was deployed to enhance Kanimbla’s visit to Broome with performances ashore and to support a cruise from Cairns to Sydney with family members and a large contingent of Australian Navy Cadets embarked. The deployment also gave five of our members their first taste of life at sea. The trip began with the musicians participating in Procedure Bravo as line handlers and standing on the upper decks for the departure through Sydney heads; always a spectacular sight for sailors. The weather was fine and warm and a gentle sea state ensured that the musicians settled into daily routines without the problem of discomfort from seasickness. The musicians were integrated into the ship’s routines immediately, with all members sharing the responsibilities of keeping watches on the bridge, and the AB’s rotating through the Café to help out with the dishes and general cleaning. LS Brett Douglas was quick to display his strange affinity with sorting rubbish, and rehearsals began in earnest for the performances in Broome. The music repertoire quickly came together and the embarked musical element performed for a steel deck barbeque in the Whitsunday Islands for the ship’s company after a swim and some beach cricket was enjoyed by all on a secluded island. Throughout the trip, the ship’s company were fundraising for one of their shipmates who had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident just weeks before the trip, and musicians got involved heavily in this fun, but very important activity onboard. AB McGann was narrowly defeated in the beard-growing contest, and any of us who forgot to take our caps off as we entered the main café were “fined” a gold coin for the effort. The trip across the top end of Australia and around to Broome was largely uneventful, and good weather made for smooth sailing all the way. Kanimbla’s ship’s company were very welcoming, and certainly made us feel at home within days of joining the ship. This is another indicator of the good reputation that the Navy Band enjoys within the Fleet these days, and this will only continue to grow as more and more musicians are deployed at sea in the coming years. On arrival in Broome, we were met at the wharf by the Director and AB Carl Riseley, who were to join us for the 72 hour stay in Broome. That afternoon we took our equipment over to the Broome High School and set up for a workshop with the local students. A small, but appreciative audience enjoyed a question and answer time with us, as we demonstrated how to take an existing song, and put our own twist on it, thereby making it ours. The students were interested to see professional players getting down to the nuts and bolts of rehearsals, and building a performance list, and gained much valuable knowledge from our 60-minute workshop. The next morning we performed for the Broome High School, and several Primary Schools from around the area, shows which were very enthusiastically received by students across all age groups. The heat and humidity were a real challenge, and the performances became more like workouts as the day progressed. On completion of the school shows, we moved the equipment over the Broome RSL Club for that evening’s performance for the ship’s company. Joining the men and women from HMAS Kanimbla were the ship’s companies of two other Fleet Units. This resulted in an audience of about 300 for our three-set show. The night began with about 45 minutes of jazz fronted by AB Hughes and AB Riseley on saxophones and vocals respectively, and added a real “Sunset Jazz” flavour to the evening. The Rock Group then played two sets, during which money was raised for the charity to pay for the performance of “Khe Sahn”. In the end, the piece was performed, with the assistance of the Major (OC of the Ship’s Army Department) and $501 was donated to the charity. The performance was a huge success, and the total proceeds from that evening alone for the benefit of the injured Kanimbla sailor were just over $1500. The next morning we performed at the local markets; a bustling, multicultural feast for the senses, highlighting Broome’s ethnic heritage. The jazz performed was well received, although the extreme heat cut short our performance just a little. Many of the Broome locals who had seen our Jazz and Rock Groups were impressed with the standard of playing and the overall professionalism of the musicians did much to increase the reputation of the Navy Band in Broome; this achieved in just 72 hours. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 153 – The AFL Grand Final was watched over a cold drink or two, and the afternoon was ours to explore and see the sights of Broome. We spent some time on Cable Beach, and drove out to the local indigenous peoples’ spiritual birthplace. The ancient, rugged landscape of red dirt and spectacular cliffs were most impressive, and the musicians all felt a special privilege in being able to see such a spiritually powerful place for the local Aboriginal community. The following morning saw the ship leave Broome and commence the ten-day journey back to Sydney, with a quick stop-off in Cairns to take on some 35 Australian Naval Reserve Cadets and to allow about 40 family members of the ship’s company to join the ship for the final four-day cruise to Sydney. My fiancée, Robyn Heard, joined the ship and gained some valuable insights into life at sea for a musician, including a ship’s concert and a swim on the Great Barrier Reef. The remainder of the trip was largely uneventful, and with a rolling swell (which caused a few moments of sea-sickness for some) on the last morning, we were all glad to steam proudly through the Sydney Heads and into Garden Island. In conclusion, we were happy to have had the opportunity to deploy to sea, and the members all contributed positively both to the ship (and ship’s company) and to the solid and still growing reputation of the RAN Band within the fleet. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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