HMAS Stirling's Freedom of Entry Parade

HMAS Stirling's Freedom of Entry Parade Main Image

09 September 2023

The City of Rockingham and HMAS Stirling have had a long and historic connection spanning over decades.

Saturday 9 September 2023 marked a momentous occasion, celebrating:

  • 35 years since Rockingham became a City
  • 45 years since the commissioning of HMAS Stirling
  • 112 years since Garden Island was purchased by the Commonwealth

HMAS Stirling exercised its right of Freedom of Entry in Rockingham to celebrate these milestones with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, and the band playing. 

Freedom of entry is a traditional honorary privilege granted by a city or town to individuals, military units, or organizations. It symbolizes a gesture of trust and recognition of their contribution or special relationship with the community. Historically, in medieval Europe, this privilege allowed specific groups, often military units, to enter a town with their weapons drawn—a sign of mutual respect and the establishment of a level of trust between the military and the local authorities.

In modern times, the freedom of entry has evolved into a symbolic gesture, often accompanied by parades and ceremonies. It serves to honour individuals or groups for their achievements, dedication, or service to the community. The granting of freedom of entry represents a bond between the recipients and the community, signifying a deep connection and appreciation for their positive impact and contributions.

The community lined the streets of the Rockingham Beach Foreshore precinct on Saturday 9 September to watch as more than 150 navy personnel from HMAS Stirling exercised their right to Freedom of Entry to the City, with drums beating, band playing,swords drawn and flags flying. It was a sight to behold and one for the history books - it hasn't been done in Rockingham since 1988.

The ceremony was followed by a Defence Community Festival at Churchill Park with lots of defence-themed activities and competitions for the whole family.