2022 Freedom of Entry

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Hundreds of locals and visitors are expected to line the streets of the Nowra CBD on Friday 21 October for a Freedom of Entry Parade. The military parade will mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. The formal ceremonial event will take place in the early evening and will also include a family friendly street party with live music, food and drinks, a flypast of Navy helicopters and a special Navy sunset ceremony.   

Shoalhaven City Council is encouraging residents from around the region to attend the historic event and cheer on Royal Australian Navy personnel from local bases HMAS Albatross, HMAS Creswell and the Fleet Air Arm.  

Event timeline 

6:20pm: Navy parade step off at the Nowra Showground. Over 800 military personnel from HMAS Albatross, HMAS Creswell and the Fleet Air Arm will march from Nowra Showground to the Freedom of Entry Challenge Point at Rauch Park, Junction Street.  

6:30pm: Freedom of Entry Challenge: The parade will be stopped by NSW Police and Local Indigenous elders at Rauch Park on Junction Street. Local Indigenous Elders will welcome the Navy to Country and conduct a smoking ceremony. NSW Police will request the Royal Australian Navy provide proof of the right and privilege to enter Nowra. The Navy will present to NSW Police a signed ‘scroll’ from the Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, granting freedom of entry.  

6:50pm: Flypast of Naval Helicopters over the Nowra CBD. 

7pm: The parade will finish at the intersection of Junction Street and Kinghorne Street.  

7:10pm: Family friendly street party: The community is invited to join Royal Australian Navy personnel for a family friendly street party. Live music will be provided by the Navy Band and food and drinks will be available for purchase from local cafes, restaurants and food vans. Power FM Breakfast Radio Presenter Abby Hopkins will be your MC.  

8pm: The Navy Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset will commence at the intersection of Junction Street and Kinghorne Street. 

8:30pm: The event concludes, and streets will begin to reopen to traffic from 10pm. 

Event map

For important information about the parade, eateries, kids activities and more:

Download the event map

Kids' Activities

The Freedom of Entry Parade and Street Party is a family friendly event. There will be face painting and kids amusement activities available as well as lots of yummy food options for dinner.  

Road closures - Friday 21 October

  • Junction Court, Nowra: Between Kinghorne Street and O’Connell Lane will be closed from 7.00am – 10.00pm 
  • Junction Street, Nowra: Junction Street between Berry Street and Kinghorne Street will be closed from approximately 4.00pm – 10.00pm to all traffic
  • Junction Street, Nowra – A rolling road closure along Junction Street, will commence from the Nowra Showgrounds at West Street to Berry Street and follow the Naval Parade with road closures occurring from approximately between 6.00pm – 7.00pm  
  • Kinghorne Street, Nowra - Kinghorne Street between North Street and Worrigee Street will be closed from approximately 6.00pm – 10.00pm
  • Detours will be in place for the duration of the road closures
  • Every effort will be made to keep delays to a minimum
  • Resident direct access will be restricted during the rolling closures for a short period (approximately 15 minutes)

What is a Freedom of Entry ceremony?

The Freedom of Entry to the City is a right which is granted upon a military unit by a Local Government, authorising that unit to march through the streets of the City on a ceremonial occasion with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, colours flying and band playing. The granting of the Freedom of Entry to the City represents the highest civic honour that the City can confer on a military unit and is a symbolic honour, demonstrating trust, loyalty and sense of community between the City and the military unit. The Freedom of Entry is restricted to Australian military units which have, through their command, a significant attachment to the City. 

The tradition dates back to medieval times in continental Europe where citizens of walled cities wisely refused to allow entry to armed groups, including troops, unless they were absolutely sure that those arms would not be used against them. The granting of permission to a formed body of armed men to enter a city became the mark of trust and confidence in which that body was held by its citizens. In modern times, a Freedom of Entry parade is a symbolic honour and often granted to mark an anniversary or significant milestone.

The ceremony of granting Freedom of Entry to a military unit is centred on a parade that begins at a suitable staging point within the city. The military unit is formed up and marches to the 'challenge point', where it is halted by the NSW Police, local Indigenous Elders and the Lord Mayor. The unit then presents a 'scroll', issued to them from the local government, authorising their right and freedom to enter the city. NSW Police respond to the scroll and the unit continues to march throughout the city. Modern ceremonies also include a welcome to country and smoking ceremony from local Indigenous Elders.

What is 'Beat to Quarters' and 'Ceremonial Sunset'?

The ‘Beat to Quarters’ and ‘Ceremonial Sunset’ are derived from the oldest of naval ceremonies, dating back centuries to the age of sail. Originally, the ship’s drums were beaten as a call for the ship’s company to man the quarters, or action stations, when battle was imminent. Ceremonial Sunset reflects the world wide naval tradition of saluting the lowering of the ensign at sunset each day in ships in harbour and shore establishments.

For this Freedom of Entry Parade, the Royal Australian Navy Band, led by their Music Director and Officer-in-Charge Lieutenant David Coit and Drum Major Chief Petty Officer Lucas Kennedy, will commence the ceremony by marching on to the official march of the Royal Australian Navy. On completion, the drummers will ‘Beat to Quarters’ to honour the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy who have served their country for over one hundred years in war and in peace. It will feature a rendition of ‘My Island Home’, led by Yidaki performer, Able Seaman Lynton Robbins and Leading Seaman Kirsten Robinson. On completion, the drummers will return to the band and the Guard, under the command of Lieutenant Nabil Attie, will advance to commence the Ceremonial Sunset.

At five minutes to sunset, the ‘Evening Hymn’ will be played. Please be warned, there will be a loud volley of shots fired by the guard during the playing of this hymn. This is an echo of a very old practice to salute the knell of parting day. At sunset, a bugler will sound the ‘Alert’. The guard will ‘Present Arms’ and the band will play a harmonised version of the bugle call ‘Sunset’ as the Australian White Ensign is slowly lowered. The Officer of the Day overseeing the lowering of the Ensign is Lieutenant Commander Thomas Higgs. Song of Australia will then be played as the flag orderlies fold the Australian White Ensign. For this ceremony, the Flag Orderlies are Leading Seaman Georgia Locking and Able Seaman Mathew Batt. The ceremonial flag folding will be followed by the Australian National Anthem. All guests are asked to stand, if able, during the anthem.

We recognise the contribution of Indigenous veterans and serving members with a prelude to the Australian National Anthem from Able Seaman Robbins, a Gamilaraay Man of Kamilaroi Nation.

On completion, the Guard Commander will seek permission from Commander Australia Fleet Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley, CSC, RAN, to ‘Carry on the Guard and Band’. The Guard and the Royal Australian Navy Band will then retire.


  • Friday, 21 October 2022 | 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM


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