Emotional harbour ceremony for new Australians

 

Under the beating hot Australian sun and on Sydney's sparkling blue harbour, I Still Call Australia Home rang out as 51 Aussies waited to be inducted as citizens aboard the HMAS Canberra.

As part of the Australia Day festivities it's not just a day for celebrating new community members, but also to honour the Rural Fire Service, with 50 fireys and their families on board.

HMAS Canberra, the jewel of the harbour on Australia Day. Picture: Jenny Evans
HMAS Canberra, the jewel of the harbour on Australia Day. Picture: Jenny Evans

For Jake Roarty from the East Jindabyne Rural Fire Brigade, the opportunity to be honoured on board with son Harrison, 3, was bittersweet.

"My first reaction was guilt that I'm here and there's so many other guys out there still on trucks and still fighting.

"My wife put it into perspective for me - that I'm representing them as much as I can," Mr Roarty said.

Paul Bryant has been with the rural fire service for 25 years and is Captain of the Upper Colo Rural Fire Brigade.

"Several people I know have lost homes, and we've been in situations where we've felt helpless," he said.

"But a lot of homes were saved … the community response has been incredible. We actually ran out of space in our fire shed because of all the donations."

"In the worst of times you see the best of people. "

The emotions were running high and with tears in her eyes, RFS volunteer Pat Rogers said the community had been amazing.

One new citizen, UK expat Dawn Francis, who dedicated her time volunteering with the SES said she loved the country and mateship.

"The whole spirit of just crack on with it and the great sense of humour."

"I've been with the SES for 5 years. We recently have been helping with the fires up at Gospers Mountain."

Those aboard the HMAS Canberra were treated to a spectacular view of the harbour. A hornet jet from the Williamtown Airbase conducted a fly over the ship, and a children's choir from Bathurst, the Upper Hunter and Albury sang a song in Eora language.

RFS fire-trucks on HMAS Canberra as it docks in Circular Quay. Picture: Julian Andrews
RFS fire-trucks on HMAS Canberra as it docks in Circular Quay. Picture: Julian Andrews


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