The crew of the HMAS Ararat II returned to its namesake city for the Freedom of Entry to the City commemorations on Saturday.
The cloudy weather didn’t dampen the spirits for too long, as the crew marched down Barkly Street as part of the proceedings in the tradition that dates back many hundreds of years.
Ararat Rural City Council mayor Gwenda Allgood said it was a special day for the region.
“It was a great day and is probably one of the most important days I have been involved in, so I am very proud of that,” she said.
“There is an awful lot of work that went into planning the day.
“The navy has done a lot of work and there has been such a great relationships between them and Ararat.
“There is a lot of history between Ararat and the Navy and this has brought it all to a fruition.”
The date of the event also holds historical significance with Saturday being the 75th anniversary of the HMAS Ararat I being commissioned.
It was decommissioned in 1947 with the bell from the Bathurst class minesweeper on display in the Ararat RSL.
HMAS Ararat II commanding officer Lieutenant Fiona Simmonds said it was a great occasion for the crew to return to Ararat.
“It is very different occasion to the Anzac Day commemorations we were here for last year,” she said.
“But this is a great honour for us all. “Usually there is only one or two across the country each year, so it is a great honour for us to come to Ararat and be involved in this.”
For most of the crew, this will be the only time they are granted Freedom of Entry to a city.
Ms Simmonds said the magnitude of the moment was not lost on the crew.
“It is something most of them have never done before,” she said.
“It is something different for them and it is great to come back to somewhere we are welcomed so warmly.
“As you go through training, you learn about Freedom of Entry, so they are aware of it and know how unique it is to be involved.
The day also holds significance for Ms Simmonds with the ceremony being her last event as commanding officer of the ship and crew.
“This is definitely a fabulous way to finish my time with HMAS Ararat II,” she said.
The council hosted an event following the march with the crew, former mayors and other dignitaries.
Cr Allgood said she hopes the relationship between the city and the navy and HMAS Ararat II crew continues into the future. “The next one is the 100th anniversary, some of us may not be around but hopefully it’s a big occasion,” she said.