The Port Arthur Historic Site was fairly bursting at the seams on Saturday afternoon with an estimated 2500 people on site for the inaugural Port Arthur Tattoo. Blessed with magnificent sunshine and light breezes, enthusiastic audience members arrived hours early to stake their spot on the lawns in front of the iconic Penitentiary to ensure the best views in the house.
The scene was set with an opening performance by the massed pipe bands of Tasmania which was received with delight by the crowds and demonstrated Port Arthur’s qualities as a natural amphitheatre with sound reverberating dramatically around the site.
The program went on to feature an array of performances from bands from across the state including the Tasmanian Police Pipe Band, the Clarence Concert Band, City of Hobart Highland Police Band, St Andrews Caledonian Pipe Band, Derwent Scottish Pipe Band, Hobart Australian Navy Cadet Band, Army Band Tasmania and the enchanting Hobart Irish Dancers and the Hobart Highland dancers.
The traditional Lone Piper appeared atop the Penitentiary to an awed audience as the sun was beginning to sink from the sky.
“It was just amazing to witness such an assortment of entertainment amidst this spectacular scenery. I was expecting it to be quite traditional but still got a little thrill out of watching my children dance to the Army Band’s version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller!” said one spectator.
For those that didn’t pack a picnic, there was a hearty selection of fare to select from at the gourmet barbeque. Local winemakers Alastair Christie of Cape Bernier Vineyard and Fred Peacock of Bream Creek were on hand to provide tastings of their popular and delicious local wines. Port Arthur distiller Bill McHenry donned his kilt to pour drams and discuss the fine points of all things whisky with enthusiastic visitors.
While entertainment was the key outcome in this collaboration of bands, an additional bonus was an injection into the tourism sector with local accommodation providers reporting that they were at capacity having hosted people that decided to make a weekend of the event.
The event was staged as a show of support to the community following the January bushfires and was generously sponsored by the RACT Rosny Branch and presented by the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.
Donations were collected for the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal during the free event.