Although, the digital scoreboards were switched off, the basketball courts of Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre (ALAC) looked lively as it transformed from a regional sports arena into accommodation for more than 200 Defence force personnel during the Albany commemoration period.
The HMAS Stirling guard, the Royal Australian Navy Band and other participating personnel got to work setting up stretchers on the parquet floors of the courts so it soon resembled a large clipper’s deck.
Albany born Stirling guard member, Able Seaman Michael Frank, said the ‘welcome sign’ above the entry door was a poignant homecoming gesture for him.
“The staff in the centre warmly welcomed us and we are grateful to be here in Albany. Coming back to here is special to me in so many ways. I am proud to be playing such an important part of the Commemoration and paying tribute to the courageous people that died during the Great War,” said Able Seaman Frank.
The open-styled accommodation provided people the opportunity to bond as a mini-community.
Leading Seaman Musician Bruce McIntyre from HMAS Cerberus said that he was honoured to part of the events and would also be attending ANZAC Cove, in Gallipoli, as part of a musical detachment next year.
“The bacon and egg rolls served at breakfast time by the volunteers have been awesome. The ALAC staff have offered us mate’s rates to work out in the gymnasium, which is a privilege, and not always possible when on deployment,” said Leading Seaman McIntyre.
The Royal Australian Navy Band and Stirling guard have settled in while, fine-tuning their rehearsals in preparation for the forthcoming Ceremonial Sunset and Troop March as part of the program of events to commemorate the departure of the first convoy from Albany in 1914.
They will be joined by Air Force, Army, New Zealand and French personnel in the coming days.