The Australian Defence Force (ADF) took centrestage during four shows of the largest ever Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (REMT) at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Nearly 300 performers from the Combined Military Bands of the ADF, the Pipes and Drums of the ADF and Australia’s Federation Guard joined a cast of more than 1500 people from 13 nations, many taking part in the Tattoo for the first time.
In a precisely choreographed three-hour show, audiences enjoyed old favourites and new acts set against a backdrop of a huge purpose-built replica of Edinburgh Castle.
Seven South-West Pacific nations joined other cultural performance groups, musical groups, pipes and drums, and military bands from around the world in a huge and colourful line-up of traditional Scottish music, military ceremony, theatre and dance from a range cultures.
The logistics of making the Tattoo happen were impressive.
In a significant airlift, five Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft flew 286 performers and support staff from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu - together with their instruments, cultural items and regalia - in three C130-J and two C17A planes to and from Australia
As well as providing air transport, the ADF provided invaluable behind-the-scenes support in Operation Tartan Oceania 19, stepping up with ground transport, co-ordination for participating nations and logistical support during rehearsals and performances.
Themed At All Points of the Compass, the Tattoo showed the close connection shared by the participating nations, according to Brigadier David Allfrey, the producer and chief executive officer of the Tattoo’s parent organisation.
“This show is particularly special in that it celebrates Australia and its relationships with neighbours in all directions,” Brigadier Allfrey said.
“That includes friendships well established in the past, growing in the present and to be developed in the future.”
Australian Army Brigadier Phil Winter, the Director General REMT, welcomed all of the Pacific participants to Australia at RAAF Base Richmond on October 12, his thoughts turned to the impact the experience would have on their lives.
“It’s been particularly poignant for us to see our Pacific friends so happily embrace the Tattoo,” he said.
“For example, the Solomon Islands group – most of whom rarely leave their village in the northern region of Malaita Province – were transported to the airfield on the back of a flat-bed truck, then loaded onto a military aircraft and flown five-and-a-half hours away to Australia.
“Four days later, after just a few rehearsals, they performed their cultural dances and music live before tens of thousands of people and were filmed for a worldwide television audience estimated to be 100 million.”
The Tattoo showed that music, like sport, is a natural fit for the ADF and its regional partners, Brigadier Winter said.
“Every ADF cast member and all support staff were privileged to be involved in this Tattoo.
“Everyone could see the enthusiasm and top quality of the ADF’s musical and ceremonial talent. We have much to offer our Pacific partners.
“Hopefully we can all continue to build on this experience.”
Taking part in the Tattoo allowed Australia to promote the important and enduring relationships it holds with each of the participant nations, such as Vanuatu.
Vanuatu’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said showcasing its culture on the world stage was a huge part of his country’s identity and development.
“We feel we are an important country to Australia and it’s important that we participate as a member of the Pacific community in the Tattoo,” he said.
“The Tattoo is a great opportunity for Vanuatu to present its unique culture in an arena where it will be seen by so many people.”
See all the colour and highlights on the Defence Image Library.