Fifteen members of the ship's company of submarine, HMAS Rankin, recently exercised Freedom of Entry in Cobar, the birthplace of Lieutenant Commander Robert William Rankin, after who the submarine is named.
Led by Commanding Officer, Commander Doug Theobald, the crew drove almost 700 kilometres to the remote mining and agriculture town in North West New South Wales, for four days of community engagement.
“We were overwhelmed by the hospitality and generosity of the people of Cobar," Commander Theobald said.
"They were thrilled by our visit and the chance to show off their great town."
During the visit, the crew attended three schools and a retirement home which gave locals the chance to learn about the life of a submariner.
Crew member Lieutenant Jack Abbott said it was a learning experience for all.
"The questions were quite colourful with the favourite being why we all wear different costumes,” he said.
Even though the crew are used to working below the earth’s surface, the chance to visit two local mines and go 1.6 kilometres underground, was a highlight for many of the official visit.
With temperatures exceeding 60 degrees underground, they were relieved to be back on top at the end of the tour, but full of admiration for those working under such extreme conditions.
Other events organized by the residents of Cobar included a pistol shoot, community BBQ and a game of touch football played in 41 degree heat.
As part of the RSL-led fundraising efforts to construct a local First World War memorial, the crew also attended a Sportsman Ball where a number of items were auctioned, including a picture of ship’s company from HMAS Sydney II.
This was purchased by Commander Doug Theobald and Leading Seaman Marine Technician Submariner Andrew 'Dixie' Lee who very generously, donated it back to the RSL.
Commander Theobald said the response from the community was what made their stay so memorable.
“We are looking forward to maintaining the close friendship between HMAS Rankin and the community of Cobar,” he said.