As the classic score of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture sounded at Gallipoli Barracks, the roar of M2A2 105mm Howitzer ceremonial artillery guns and fireworks blasted in synchronisation.
The incredible performance from the Band of the 1st Regiment, Australian Army Band Brisbane, Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra and soldiers from 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery was the grand finale and highlight of the Gallipoli Barracks Open Day on October 12.
More than 15,000 people flooded the barracks as 7th Brigade opened the gates of the garrison to the public for the first time in years.
On display was a range of Army equipment, including the Australian Army’s new Boxer, the M1A1 Abrams Tank, ARH Tiger Helicopter, as well as various weapons and gadgets soldiers use on a daily basis.
Units put on military demonstrations, including a section attack with blank ammunition, attack dogs, Army combatives and a physical training instructor fitness challenge, while 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery celebrated its 70th birthday with a Beating Retreat ceremonial parade.
Janelle Petersen, the wife of an Army reservist, enjoyed getting up close to the vehicles, medical equipment and watching the Army Band.
“It was fantastic, just to be able to see what you all do and come into the barracks was great,” Ms Petersen said.
“The main reason for today is to say thank you to the community for supporting us, to thank families for their sacrifice in supporting soldiers and, most importantly, to thank soldiers for their commitment, sacrifice and duty to their country.”
7th Brigade Commander Brigadier Andrew Hocking said it was an important day of thanks following an intensive 14 months as the Army’s ready brigade.
“The main reason for today is to say thank you to the community for supporting us, to thank families for their sacrifice in supporting soldiers and, most importantly, to thank soldiers for their commitment, sacrifice and duty to their country,” Brigadier Hocking said.
During its time as the ready brigade, 7th Brigade deployed more then 2500 people on five different operations overseas, sent about 400 personnel for training to Malaysia with Rifle Company Butterworth and participated in numerous exercise in Australia and overseas, as well as having a dedicated ready battle group on call to respond to short notice contingencies.
As an end-of-ready treat, soldiers and their families were invited to a private three-act concert with 1980s band the Hoodoo Gurus headlining.
Australian rock band Kingswood and the Australian Army Band Brisbane also performed sets.
Ashley Howells, the daughter of a 7th Brigade Army officer, said the concert was a great way to end the evening.
“The concert afterwards was such a lovely gesture, the fact that everyone can come and enjoy it together,” Ms Howells said.
“Rather than the marches, which are great for the family but not so much for the Defence members, this is something that we can all sit with together and really enjoy.”
The Gallipoli Barracks Open Day was organised in conjunction with RSL Queensland, which helped plan, sponsor and coordinate the event for soldiers and the community.