The Shire of Esperance hosted a Freedom of Entry ceremony and community celebrations to mark the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy Submarine HMAS Farncomb in November 2016. The Collins class submarine, commissioned in 1998 for defense and two-ocean surveillance, arrived to its affiliated home town on the 8th November, with the Freedom of Entry ceremony taking place on the 10th.

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Esperance is located 720 kilometers east south-east of Perth on the coast of the Southern Ocean. You can view the incredible sight of the submarine at the Esperance dock along with the Navy parade here at the Esperance U Tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7Lx4wqq2zg

For this momentous occasion, George H Lilley Regalia were delighted to make for the Shire of Esperance a Presidential gold chain and custom pendant. This chain and pendant was purchased by Shire President Councillor Victoria Brown and gifted to the community. The Shire hired from us a traditional mayoral robe for Councillor Brown to wear, along with the Presidential gold chain and pendant, at the Freedom of Entry ceremony.

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 So what is Freedom of Entry?

In western histories, Freedom of Entry is a privilege granted by a city or municipality to visiting outsiders such as armed forces and military troops. Some histories refer the origins of such ceremony back to ancient Roman times, when the boundary of a city was considered sacred. Other sources note the history of Freedom of Entry during the Middle Ages, when the walled cities of mainland Europe and the British Isles granted such status only to trusted outsiders.

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For the Shire of Esperance and the Farncomb visit, it was a special occasion that celebrated the history of the shire and brought the community together with much display of regalia that noted representations of the shire and its people, rank and identity, and historical and cultural relationships of significance.

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Much like such historical precedents of Freedom of Entry ceremonies, the Shire of Esperance welcomed the arrival of HMAS Farncomb and her crew with various community celebrations and fanfare. A Freedom of entry ceremony would typically include a parade of the visitors through the town, with ‘swords drawn, bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and band playing’. (1) In the Shire of Esperance ceremony, there was a parade of the Farncomb Navy crew marching through the town. There was also a welcome to country, smoking ceremony and challenge performed by Esperance Tjaltjraak representatives. During the parade, Commander Ian Bray displayed the traditional scroll representing Freedom of Entry to senior members of the community including Police Sergeant Richard Moore. The procession finished at the RSL Memorial.

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Community participation continued through the week with the Remembrance Day service, fundraising activities, school visits by crew members, sporting competitions, Saturday market and yacht club sail out as the Farncomb farewelled Esperance Bay.

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The Wearing of Indigenous Regalia at the Esperance Ceremony

As in the Banyule citizenship ceremony we blogged about in our last post for 2016, the local indigenous community also displayed their own ceremonial garments of significance, as can be seen here in our favorite picture showing Councillor Brown wearing the president robe and chain, and indigenous elder Doc Reynolds wearing indigenous ceremonial accoutrements.

For us at George H Lilley Regalia, the opportunity to design and make the president chain, pendant and robe has been a wonderful project for us. The Freedom of Entry ceremony and community activities also highlights the relevance that regalia presents for our Australian communities.

Many thanks to the Shire of Esperance for this wonderful opportunity to make regalia for your ceremonies.

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We were delighted that Councillor Brown was so kind to offer praise for our work, and mention the significance the regalia will now have to the community for years to come;

‘…such a beautiful design that will be timeless and worn with pride through the years by the President of the Shire of Esperance.’

Our pleasure to be of service!

References; 1 http://www.esperance.wa.gov.au/events/freedom-entry-parade

http://www.esperance.wa.gov.au/news/2016/oct/6/freedom-entry

 http://www.esperance.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication/files/hmas_farncomb.pdf

http://www.esperance.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication/files/history_of_freedom_of_entry.pdf