HMAS Newcastle – One Ship, One Culture, One Family
16 July 2015
As HMAS Newcastle patrolled the Indian Ocean in support of Operation MANITOU, the sound of the Didgeridoo and singing from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders' quartet rang out from the galley.
The cultural theme was designed to celebrate NAIDOC week with an Indigenous and Islander banquet fit for a family gathering for Newcastle's crew.
The event's mastermind was LSML-C Nick 'The Chef' Collins who wanted to ensure Newcastle’s crew celebrated the history, culture and achievements of its impressive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community with fitting recognition.
To make the celebration a success LSML-C Collins and the galley team gathered as many of the required ingredients as possible from the ship’s port visit to the Seychelles.
With sound advice from the indigenous experts, the menu was precisely planned to bring the ship's company an array of food from the pristine waters of Arnhem Land to the Great Melanesian and Polynesian islands, and the Spinifex deserts of the Red Centre.
The ship's company queued in anticipation and were surprised to find the ship's Indigenous members playing traditional tunes on the Didgeridoo, wearing traditional Mugra and Ocre (face paint) with traditional head attire, ready to serve the traditional food.
The delicacies included Magpie Goose Stir fry, Wild Turkey Kumara Coconut Curry, Crocodile Tail poached in Water Lilly and desserts ranging from Native Coco Bean Coconut Panna cotta to Queensland Mango Rice Pudding to satisfy the fussiest of taste buds.
Newcastle's Indigenous community of LSCSO Khory Beezley, LSCSO Rebecca Florance ABBM's Kaleb Cohen, Alan Patterson, Desmond Taylor and Kyh Mye agreed that the celebration meal onboard was a beautiful and special occasion and that they were all proud to be part of a ship's company that recognises and celebrates such an important part of their culture.
ABBM's Patterson said the Indigenous Recruiting program and the positive culture in Newcastle are proving successful.
"The number of indigenous personnel in Newcastle is proof of that," he said.
"We hope our success and the respect and recognition we are shown onboard will help the younger generation of Indigenous personnel better themselves and be proud to represent their family and culture as part of the RAN on operational deployment".
LSCSO Florance, Newcastle's only female indigenous member, was delighted with the show of support.
"I was impressed by the ship's company being able to support our culture onboard and it was a memorable experience to be able to prepare and serve traditional meals to my Newcastle family. I am proud to be part of one ship, one culture and one family," she said.
NAIDOC week is held annually to recognise and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians have a long and rich history of contributing to the defence of Australia.