Leading tributes to the 35 people who were murdered in cold blood by lone gunman Martin Bryant, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull solemnly addressed those gathered.
"We commemorate and honour your resilience, just as we mourn the loss of so many innocents, indeed, our loss of innocence," he said.
Also in attendance were his wife Lucy, former Prime Minister John Howard, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Like the Assassination of JFK and the death of Princess Diana, many Australians still remember where they were and what they were doing when news broke that on 28th April 1996 that Bryant had open fired on a café in Port Arthur, seemingly on a disgruntled rampage after earlier killings in the morning.
Shattered by the senseless bloodshed that occurred, residents still find it difficult to speak of the events. Many knew victims. Bryant was indiscriminate in his killings, even stopping on the side of the road to murder a mother and her two young daughters.
The seaside town, with a history of convict labour and barracks, now bears an eery modern story of mass murder and destruction
"The evil that was committed here must never be allowed to overshadow the memory of each of those individual lives ... of how they were loved and cherished before they were taken from us.
"You, the victims of cruel hatred have responded with love, “ said Mr. Turnbull.
Across from the historic site, Church bells rang out in Hobart for the victims and 35 candles were lit in remembrance.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Turnbull also paid tribute to the gun reform measures passed through parliament since the tragedy and acknowledged the difficult and dangerous jobs of emergency service workers, “"those who willingly run towards danger when most of us run from it".
After being captured by police, Martin Bryant is now serving 35 life sentences in prison with no chance of parole.