During the second week of October, HMAS Cairns held its annual Navy Week highlighting an array of free events for members of the public around the Cairns area.
Kicking off with the Russ Renne Cup Fun Run, with the start and finish at the ‘pirate ship’ on the Cairns Esplanade, the cheerful weather added to the excitement and easy going air of the event. Navy Musician Leading Seaman Bruce McIntyre was on his first visit to Cairns and was able to beat the heat to win the Veterans division and come third overall with a time of 19 minutes and 35 seconds.
“The heat was a real shock to the system, but what struck me most was the family atmosphere,” he said.
Of the 66 Cairns personnel that competed, Able Seaman Kim Martyn placed first in the Men's Open, with a time of 18:03 and Able Seaman Leigha Golding won the Women’s Open in an even 22 minutes.
A Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters followed at the Cenotaph that same evening. This custom demonstrates Navy’s traditional ceremonial side, dating back centuries to the age of sail. The Ceremonial Sunset reflects the world-wide Naval tradition of saluting the lowering of the ensign at sunset each day.
The Melbourne detachment of the Navy Band opened the ceremony, marching onto the Cenotaph to present the armed guard with spirit and gusto. Five minutes before sunset, the mood became sombre with the dulcet melodies of the band in perfect complement to what could be called the epitome of military tradition.
Parade Commander Midshipman Zac Smith is in his first year in the Navy, curently serving in landing craft HMAS Brunei, learning to become a Maritime Warfare Officer and said it was an honour to be part of such a tradition and share it with the community.
"When I stood out there I got butterflies," he said.
The ceremony was a hit with locals and holiday makers, with one member of the audience commenting that the ceremony had been the highlight of their holiday.
The band also showcased their talents around Cairns during the week, performing at St Therese’s Catholic Primary School in Bentley Park, Stocklands Shopping Centre in Earlville and at the Lagoon on the Esplanade. At every performance they were well received, with audience members often singing along to the jazz, rock and pop tunes repertoire that included recent additions such as the theme song from Frozen.
Navy weeks are held across the country annually to create a greater understanding of the roles the men and women in the Royal Australian Navy perform whilst raising awareness of the Navy’s involvement in each region.