The Westernport Festival in Hastings, Victoria, is the largest annual civilian event in the HMAS Cerberus neighbourhood, and gives base personnel the opportunity to stand alongside other groups to celebrate their community.
The festival is traditionally led by the Royal Australian Navy Band.
This year's festival also included Navy participants from local Navy Cadet unit TS Tingira and members of the Navy Steam Club.
This year an exception was made to have the volunteer Crib Point Country Fire Authority crew lead the way in honour of their service in January, when they fought the bushfires which threatened Crib Point and Cerberus boundaries.
Able Seaman Musicians Russell Oxley and Jonathan Rendell were equally proud to march with the Navy Band and watch their fellow Country Fire Authority volunteers receive the crowds cheers.
Both sailors joined the Country Fire Authority after fires threatened the community more than 12 months ago. After being one of many residents forced to evacuate, Able Seaman Oxley thought volunteering would be a good idea given his experience with Navy and fire fighting training in particular.
“Doing something for the community other than performing music is fulfilling and being involved with the recent Crib Point fire and seeing the community’s response to what we were doing was really overwhelming,” Able Seaman Oxley said.
Having come to Australia from the United Kingdom where he served in the British Armed Forces, Able Seaman Rendell is amazed at the dedication of volunteer fire fighters.
“Bushfires are really prevalent here and I realised fighting fires was mostly done by volunteers and I was astounded by the high level of their commitment to the organisation,” Able Seaman Rendell said.
“Part of being in the Navy Band is really engaging with our community; I couldn’t think of a better way of complimenting that than engaging with the Country Fire Authority as well.”
Crib Point Country Fire Authority Captain, David Jarratt, has been a volunteer for 23 years and says the structure of the Country Fire Authority is similar to the Defence Force, and that they shares many of Navy’s values, making it a good fit for Cerberus personnel to volunteer.
“It’s fantastic to have Cerberus members as part of the Country Fire Authority," he said.
"Their military background helps and their discipline is often naturally adopted by others.
"They bring a secure feeling within the brigade and a great attitude to making this their home and their mates while they’re posted here."