Gympie Navy cadet leading seaman William Gear with petty officer Jackson Tomkinson and leading seaman Hayden Thefs.
Gympie Navy cadet leading seaman William Gear with petty officer Jackson Tomkinson and leading seaman Hayden Thefs. Contributed

Opportunity of a lifetime for Gympie Navy cadets

GYMPIE Navy cadet William Gear stood five metres from Prince Harry during the Australian Navy International Fleet Review last Saturday evening.

William, 17, was one of five Gympie Navy cadets selected to form a nation-wide 180-strong group of cadets witnessing the pomp and ceremony in Sydney.

The International Fleet Review was an opportunity for the Royal Australian Navy to mark 100 years since it first steamed into Sydney Harbour.

In 1913, when Australia's very first fleet entered Sydney Harbour, it heralded a nation coming of age.

The weekend celebration, consisting of giant projections on the Sydney Opera House and fireworks, was the biggest display in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics.

Joining William and representing Gympie were Jordan and Hayden Thefs, Tyronne McIntosh and Jackson Tomkinson.

The Gympie cadets had the perfect view of the ceremony on Garden Island.

"It was great being able to take it all in from there," William said.

"We had a perfect view of the harbour."

Prince Harry and Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce earlier greeted dignitaries after the cadets gave the royal guest a salute as he disembarked HMAS Leeuwin.

William was not able to personally greet Prince Harry but was able to view the Prince more closely than the general public taking in the spectacle.

"Prince Harry and the Governor-General were only five metres away and that was a real experience," William said. "I take away an awesome experience that money couldn't buy."

The Gympie cadet's impression of Prince Harry was to say "he seemed like a nice guy".

William now looks forward to an ongoing career in the Australian Navy.

 

At a glance

  • The Australian Navy's International Fleet Review marked 100 years since it first entered Sydney Harbour
  • A young and growing nation, this was a watershed moment in 1913, heralding the arrival of an independent and prospering Australia