Sunday, April 8 was lining up to be just another day for Taree’s Jessica Gross, until she found out Prince Charles was planning a visit to Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Cairns, coincidentally, her place of work.
Located adjacent to the Trinity Inlet on the shore of Trinity Bay in Cairns, Queensland, the HMAS base isn’t a place that hydrographic surveyor, Jessica spends a lot of time at, but in this instance, timing was everything.
“I don’t think I’ll really see him or anything,” Jessica had said to her mother, Veronica when she heard about the visit.
“I’ll probably be at the back.”
Still, it was an exciting prospect, catching a glimpse of the prince as he stopped in to inspected HMAS Leeuwin, the ship Jessica works on.
“She ended up being in the guard of arms when they received him,” Jessica’s mother, Veronica said.
“She was in the front row, and as he walked past he stopped and had a chat with her. He asked her what her role was, and when she told him she was a hydrographic surveyor he actually told her that’s what he had done when he was in the navy too which is pretty cool.”
Currently in her third years of service, Jessica was understandably thrilled to have been picked out of the crowd for a chat with Charles.
“She was very excited about it, and said he was very lovely and nice to talk to,” Veronica added.
Growing up in Taree, Jessica attended Chatham High School, graduating in 2006. She was a passionate hockey player, representing a number of teams around the Manning region throughout her childhood, before moving away to get an undergraduate business degree.
“After she finished studying, she worked for a bit, then moved overseas,” Veronica said.
“She worked as an au pair for a year in Italy, then moved home and joined the navy.
“Her father, Andrew and I are so proud and excited for her, she loves her work and her job and it was just a bit of an exciting experience.”