More than 1000 proud Australians bearing flags and a belly full of admiration for HMAS Parramatta’s crew lined Church Street Mall on Tuesday for their Freedom of Entry Parade.
The parade took more than 250 sailors through the mall, up Church Street and on to Riverside Theatres where the ship’s commanding officer, Commander Simon Cannell was presented with the key to the city by Parramatta Lord Mayor John Chedid.
‘‘You don’t have to come knocking on our door anymore,’’ Cr Chedid told Commander Cannell.
‘‘You have the keys to our city.’’
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Commander Cannell also came bearing gifts — a commemorative plaque for the city of Parramatta which he presented to Cr Chedid, saying: ‘‘Thank you for your ongoing support.’’.
But it was deputy lord mayor Paul Garrard — who was bestowed the title of patron of HMAS Parramatta last month — who perhaps summed up the feeling in the room best when he said: ‘‘The best kind of ship is friendship.’’
He said this before asking everyone in Riverside’s courtyard to raise their glasses in a toast.
Earlier the ship’s crew had marched with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and ensign flying.
Among them was the ship’s leading seaman communicator Darren Watt of Bardia, near Ingleburn.
‘‘I didn’t expect such a turnout,’’ an overwhelmed Mr Watt said after the march.
We caught up with him at Riverside in the company of his proud wife Leanne and daughters Sienna, 6, and Cassie, 18 months.
‘‘I joined HMAS Parramatta IV in June; before that I was at HMAS Watson instructing,’’ he said.
Before the parade, the lord mayor and deputy mayor met Commander Cannell at the stern of HMAS Parramatta I in Queen’s Wharf Reserve, Parramatta, where Cr Chedid presented the Freedom of Entry Scroll to the commanding officer.
The pair and other dignitaries, including Parramatta MP Geoff Lee, also laid wreaths at the memorial of HMAS Parramatta II.
The ceremony commemorated the 138 sailors who died on the second HMAS Parramatta when it was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine in 1941 and included a minute’s silence to remember the fallen.
‘‘Every captain of Parramatta HMAS IV is an honorary member of the Parramatta and District Historical Society,’’ Trevor Patrick, the society’s president, said.
‘‘So when they’re in the harbour a contingent from the ship visits us to update us ... we have constant communication with the ship [which] recently rescued a couple of hundred asylum seekers off Christmas Island.
‘‘They do a good job for us.’’
Asked about the ship’s history, he imparted this pearl: ‘‘The joke is it’s the longest ship in Australia because the stern is in Queen’s Park Reserve and the bow, which is the front, is in Garden Island.’’
Did you know? HMAS Parramatta IV turned 10 on Friday.