Historic Freedom of Entry Parade Captivates a City

Date11 September 2023

Community members lined the streets of the Rockingham Beach Foreshore precinct as the City of Rockingham hosted a rare and prestigious Freedom of Entry Parade for the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Stirling on Saturday 9 September 2023. 

The event was held to celebrate and acknowledge the close ties between the City and HMAS Stirling. Freedom of Entry, which is a tradition dating back to medieval times, is a mark of confidence and trust that is the highest accolade a local government can bestow on a military unit. 

In conjunction with its celebration of Rockingham becoming a City, Freedom of Entry was first granted to HMAS Stirling on 12 November 1988. Now some 35 years later, HMAS Stirling has exercised its right to Freedom of Entry.  

Led by Commanding Officer, Captain Ken Burleigh, more than 150 navy personnel marched in the parade, which was highlighted by troops who were armed with swords drawn, drums beating and band playing. 

As HMAS Stirling sought to exercise their Freedom of Entry to the City, they were challenged by Senior Sergeant Ian Francis, Officer in Charge Rockingham Police, who acted as the City Marshall. 

A formal scroll was presented by HMAS Stirling, and after entry was granted navy personnel marched to the Village Green saluting Mayor Deb Hamblin and Commodore Heath Robertson at the War Memorial before being dismissed. After the parade the City and HMAS Stirling hosted the first ever defence-themed Community Festival at Churchill Park.

City of Rockingham Mayor Deb Hamblin thanked HMAS Stirling and WA Police for making the parade an event that would be remembered for years to come. 

“Our City has held close ties with HMAS Stirling since the base was commissioned in 1978, and we are proud that thousands of defence personnel call Rockingham home,” Mayor Hamblin said. 

The parade was a truly special occasion and granting Freedom of Entry to HMAS Stirling was an important step in honouring the longstanding relationship that we share. As the base evolves in the years to come, we hope this friendship will continue to grow further. 

Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling Captain Ken Burleigh said it was an honour to be granted Freedom of Entry to the City of Rockingham. 

“We are proud to be a part of the Rockingham community. Being granted Freedom of Entry means a lot to the Navy personnel who serve at HMAS Stirling,” Captain Burleigh said.  

Senior Sergeant Ian Francis, Officer in Charge, Rockingham Police Station said “It was an honour to be part of this event for me personally and for the Rockingham Police Station as a whole. The history between Navy, Police and the City of Rockingham is significant and a community event like this one often only comes once in your working lifetime, it was a great day.”

Image one: Community members lined the streets for the historic event.  

Image two: Senior Sergeant Ian Francis, Officer in Charge Rockingham Police Station, was the City Marshall during the event. 

Image three: Mayor Deb Hamblin inspects the guard before the parade begins. 

Image four: Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling, Captain Ken Burleigh, led personnel on the parade through the Rockingham Foreshore. Credit: All images courtesy of Department of Defence. 

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