Historic Freedom of Entry parade to be held in Singleton

Published on 20 February 2023


Hundreds of uniformed soldiers from the Lone Pine Barracks School of Infantry will parade through Singleton Town Centre on Friday 17 March as part of a traditional ceremony to formally request Freedom of Entry to the Singleton local government area.

Singleton Council has joined with the Lone Pine Barracks School of Infantry to hold the special event, marking the 55th anniversary since the first granting of Freedom of Entry to the Singleton Military Area in 1966 (postponed from 2021 due to COVID-19) and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the School of Infantry in Singleton.

The granting of the Freedom of Entry is the highest civic honour a city can confer on a military unit. It is restricted to Australian military units which have, through their command, a significant attachment to the city.

Up to 300 uniformed personnel will be involved in the parade led by Senior Australian Defence Force Officer Singleton Military Area and Parade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thapthimthong, CSC. He said the march has historic and significant meaning, with a quarter of all Australia’s soldiers being connected to Singleton through the School of Infantry for half a century. 

“The Freedom of Entry is a historic event and reconfirms the connection that the Military, especially the Army, has with Singleton – a connection that’s older than 50 years, but is well-versed with the School of Infantry,” he said.

“For the soldiers at the start of their careers, getting to be part of something so significant before they get to their home battalions anywhere around Australia, with that added layer being the 50th anniversary of the school, will just be something extraordinary to hang their hat on as they leave this place as qualified Infantry soldiers.

“Infantry represents 25 per cent of the Australian Army, so for the last 50 years for every single person that has served in the Army, at least a quarter of them have lived here in the Hunter Valley to complete their training through the School. They link their lineage, historically through their training, to this little town called Singleton, and it’s really important for us to be able to reconfirm the connection that this town has to generations of soldiers.”

Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore said Singleton held a unique place in Australia as a centre for Infantry training.

“It’s a privilege for Singleton to be a stop on the journey for a large number of the men and women who go on to protect our country and our way of life in conflicts and in peace time,” she said.

“It’s sometimes easy to forget that there could be up to 1,000 people at any one time undergoing their training at the base right here in Singleton, and I hope as many people as possible from our community will line the streets to pay tribute to all of our soldiers and celebrate with the School of Infantry.”

The Freedom of Entry parade will step off from Hunter Street at 11am on Friday 17 March and continue onto John Street before being halted by a senior police officer under the New England Highway flyover, who will formally grant permission to enter before the procession continues onto Queen Street to Civic Green where the Mayor will inspect the troops. Members of the public are encouraged to line the street.

A community gathering will be held after the Freedom of Entry at the Civic Centre forecourt, including refreshments, free icy poles and an Australian Defence Force display.

For more information about the event, including road closures and parking restrictions, visit www.singleton.nsw.gov.au/freedomofentry