Scottish Week 2018


The Scottish Australian Heritage Council is proud to present ‘Scottish Week 2018’.

The programme runs in Sydney from Friday 29 June to Saturday 7 July and consists of the following:

Fri 29 June:  Welcome at the Castlereagh hotel
Lecture: “The Elightenment: The Library” by Paul Brunton OAM,
Emeritus Archivist, State Library of NSW
Sat 30 June:  Burns Themed Scottish Dinner, Castlereagh Hotel
Sun 1 July:    Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan, Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church,                                       Annandale.
and the Clans and Families Forum, including a speaker from Ancestry on DNA
Mon 2 July:   Joadja, NSW, shale mine excursion, constructed 1878 by Scottish families
(places are limited, so please book early)
Tue 3 July:    Scotland-Australia Cairn, Mosman – Annual inspection and report to                                       Scotland.
Wed 4 July:   Parliamentary Lunch in remembrance of Tartan Day
Thu 5 July:    Walking tour of Sydney – Scottish-Australian highlights from Circular Quay                            to Hyde Park Barracks.
Lecture: “The ‘Long Seige’ of Candia (1648-69): the Knights of St John, a                                  Venetian Protectorate, the Ottoman Empire and a Scottish Regiment”
by Dr Matthew Glozier, President, Sydney Society of Scottish History.
Fri 6 July:      Address by Grant Davidson of Davidston, Chief of Clan Davidson, Luncheon
The 18-Footer Sailing Club, Double Bay
Sat 7 July:      Aberdeen Highland Games.

The theme for Scottish Week is the History, Heritage and Archaeology of Scots in Australia

Bookings are essential. To book please download the application via this link.



Events for January 2018.

Unbelievably 2018 is already upon us and 2018 is looking to be a year jam-packed full of activities right across the land.

So to start us off we begin right away with activities commencing right now in Brisbane and throughout most of the month the Sunshine state in particular has a number of activities.

In January we celebrate the great bard, Rabbie Burns and our great nation.  On behalf of the Clan Douglas Society of Australia we hope you have “A Guid New Year”

Brisbane Smallpipe Session

January 2
Milton, QLD

Smallpipes session. Info: Malcolm McLaren 07 3820-2902 or

Brisbane Clans Pipes & Drums Burns Supper & Dance

January 20
Mitchelton, QLD

Celebrate the Bard with food, music and friends at Gaythorne RSL, Samford Rd. Info 07 3369 2232.

Happy Burns Night

January 25

A night to celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns. The tradition of the Burns Night Supper was first held in 1801 by the poet’s friends, five years after his death. Today events take place around the world with Scottish music, poetry, food, drink and dance.



Burns Supper

January 25
Wongawallan, QLD

Greeted by a lone piper to celebrate the great poet Robbie Burns at the Burns Supper at Fox & Hounds Country Inn, 7 Elevation Dr. Info: 07 5665 7582 or

City of Hobart Highland Pipe Band Burns Night

January 25
Hobart, TAS

Celebrate Burns with music, food and more at the Hobart Function and Convention Centre. Info: or 0418 107 175.

2018 Burns Supper

January 25 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Perth, WA 

Celebrate the bard with the Saint Andrew Society of Western Australia. Info:

Happy Australia Day

January 26

Mackay & District Pipe Band Burns Supper 2018

January 27
Mackay, QLD,

Celebrate the 259th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet, Robert Burns. There’ll be pipes & drums, Highland dancing, a buffet dinner, the haggis ceremony, poetry, and Scottish country dancing at North Mackay Bowls Club, 74-76 Malcomson St. Info:

2017 Christmas message.

‘Christmas 2017’. It’s hard to believe we are almost at that time on the calendar already!

We recently marked the first anniversary for our society and in fitting fashion we celebrated that milestone with a gathering at the Burns Club in Canberra. The gathering was well attended by 15 people! Wow! We were very happy to see so many turn up.

Now we’re winding down the year with the traditional festive season. We reflect back on the year and look forward to more special moments with those special people in our lives.

Unfortunately December is a quiet month for anything traditional from the old homeland to enjoy with the community. If you’re fortunate enough to be living in or near Sydney there is a large event called ‘a Joyful Celtic Christmas’.


If you’re interested in a fun evening out contact the Box Office 02 8839 3399 or visit their website.

But if you’re looking to do something traditional at home in a fine Scottish way, then I’m afraid I have some bad new for you. There aren’t too many!

Unbelievably Christmas was banned in Scotland for some 400 years! Even baking Yule bread was banned! So instead the Scottish new years celebration ‘Hogmanay’  became the main festival everyone talks about. But I’m not sure everyone is up for days of drinking and revelry!

However some Scottish traditions did survive over the centuries and still practised in many a household today.

The baking of Yule bread; although its origins is reportedly across the border in Yorkshire; the baking of this delicious bread is a long-held Scottish tradition that survived Cromwells ban.


A loaf of unleavened bread is baked for each individual in the family, and the person who finds a trinket in his or her loaf will have good luck all year. This reminds me of the tradition of placing a sixpence (or five cent piece) into a pudding, resulting no doubt in many chipped teeth and choking. Not a good way at starting a year of good luck!

To bake your own Yule Bread follow these ‘simple’ steps:

  • 1½ cups water

  • 2/3 cup raisins

  • 2/3 cup dried currants

  • 4 cups flour, more if needed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, creamed

  • 1/3 cup chopped, candied orange peel

  • 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm milk (for glaze)

9 x 5 x 4 inch loaf pan

1. Bring water to a boil, pour half over raisins and currants and leave to soak.  Let remaining water cool to tepid.  Sift flour into a bowl with salt, cinnamon and cloves and stir in sugar.  Make a well in the centre and add tepid water with water drained from fruits.  Crumble or sprinkle yeast over water and leave 5 minutes or until dissolved.  Add eggs and, with your hand, gradually mix in flour. If necessary add more flour to form a smooth dough that is soft but not sticky.

2. Transfer dough to an electric mixer bowl and knead until elastic using the dough hook, 5-7 minutes.  Put dough in an oiled bowl, turning it so the top is oiled.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 2-3 hours.

3. Butter the loaf pan. Return dough to the mixer bowl and add creamed butter. Beat with dough hook at medium speed until butter is mixed and dough is smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Add soaked fruit and candied peel and mix at low speed until incorporated.

4. To shape loaf, turn dough onto a floured work surface. Pat it out with your fist to a rectangle 9 inches wide. Roll dough into a cylinder, pinch edge to seal, then drop carefully into loaf pan, seam side down.  Cover loosely and leave to rise until pan is full, 1½-2 hours.

5.  Heat the oven to 200°C. Brush loaf with glaze and bake for 20 minutes.  Brush again, lower heat to 175° and continue baking until the loaf sounds hollow when unmolded and tapped on bottom, 30-40 minutes. Transfer it to a rack to cool.  Yule Bread can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 month, and the flavor matures.  It can also be frozen.  Makes 1 large loaf to serve 8.

But be warned! On Christmas Eve, a Scottish custom has a single person cracking an egg into a cup. The shape of the egg white determined the profession of the possible mate. The egg was mixed into a cake, and if the cake cracked during baking, the person would have bad luck in the next year.

Another, perhaps even less popular Scottish tradition during the festive season is ‘Redding the House.’ 

This annual house cleansing rids the home of bad luck from the previous year and encourages good luck in the new. Part of this custom may include burning juniper branches within the house until it fills with smoke, then opening all the windows to cast out spirits.

This custom does not come with my endorsement during the heat of the Australian summer! But, burning something small perhaps isn’t such a bad idea. Many Scots still burn a twig of the rowen tree at Christmas as a way to clear away bad feelings of jealousy or mistrust between family members, friends, or neighbours.

Of course Redding doesn’t necessarily mean burn all the things (and your house included). It is one of the most important Scottish New Year traditions. Scottish families spend the New Year eve together. They start preparing for the grand event by cleaning their houses and other belongings. It is said that a clean and tidy home can welcome the good spirits of the New Year in the best way. Special attention is given to the fireplaces. The fireplaces should be cleaned and polished.

There are a number of things, which the Scottish families do to bring good luck. According to Scottish New Year traditions, people think that debts bring bad luck, so they clear all debts before New Year eve. They place Rowan trees at the entrance of their houses. They place a piece of mistletoe in the house, which is thought to bring good health for the family (although I’m not sure of the origins of the custom of lovers kissing under the mistletoe). Hazel and yew are kept to bring magical power and protection respectively. Some pieces of holly are also placed inside the house in order to keep away the evil spirits.

To the observer, it certainly appears that all the customs associated with Redding appear to have an ancient origin. Perhaps long before the arrival of Christianity and its subsequent domination over local customs.

If burning things, cleaning your house spotless or turning it into an arboretum isn’t your thing then perhaps a more agreeable custom to observe is when the first visitor to arrives to your home on Christmas Day; Scottish custom has this person called the ‘First Footer’. The person must bear gifts of peat, money, and bread to symbolise warmth, wealth, and lack of want. This also became a New Year’s Day tradition.

Although, peat may be hard to find in this country.

Another custom is placing candles in the window to welcome a stranger is a long-upheld Scottish Christmas tradition.


Whichever way you and your family celebrate Christmas we all still observe customs and traditions even when we don’t realise it. That all just adds to the fun of the occasion while paying a respectful nod to our heritage.

Clansfolk, on behalf of the Clan Douglas Society of Australia I would like to extend my warmest wishes to you for a Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr’ (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year).

Until next year! Lang may yer lum reek!


Events for June 2017.

As the weather cools down into winter the events heat up!

There are some great events coming up this month, don’t forget your flask of Whisky to keep warm.

Come back to the BBC Pipe Band

June 2
Brisbane, QLD Australia

An event for anyone who has ever played with the BBC Pipe Band, reconnect with former members and hear about the bands trip to play at the 2018 Edinburgh Tattoo , includes band performances. Info:

Toowoomba Caledonian Society Ceilidh

June 3
Toowoomba, QLD Australia

A night of Scottish entertainment at Drayton Hall. Info:

Piobaireachd Group Queensland Social

June 4
Rochedale, QLD Australia

Piping event at Rochedale State High School, 249 Priestdale Rd. Info: 07 3397 4512.

Adelaide Pipers’ Gathering

June 5
Adelaide, SA Australia

Piping event in Adelaide. Info: Jack Brennan

Brisbane Smallpipe Session

June 6
Milton, QLD Australia

Small pipes session. Info: Malcolm McLaren 07 3820-2902 or

Scottish Highland Day Lunch

June 7
Sydney, NSW Australia

Be transported to Scotland at this outstanding annual lunch, held in Cellos Grand Dining Room at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel. Beautifully restored to it original 1920s Art Deco glory, Cellos is the perfect backdrop for a sumptuous 3-course lunch and some traditional Scottish entertainment. Enjoy performances by our charming Scottish Highland Dancers and Pipe Band plus you’ll be treated to the Haggis Ritual.
Gather a group of friends and book your table for a fun filled lunch in this breath-taking venue! Cost: $65.00 per person Includes: 3-course lunch with two beverages (soft drink, local beer or house wine). Book or call 02 9284 1006.

National Celtic Festival

June 9June 12
Portarlington, VIC Australia

A full long weekend of Celtic music, relax and experience the depth of Celtic culture through the festival’s cultural diverse arts program. Info:


Highland Cattle National Show 2017

June 10June 12
Mount Pleasant , SA Australia

June long weekend with Highland cattle and Highland dancers, Clan tents and more. Cattle from Victoria and local exhibitors. Free entry at Mount Pleasant Oval. Info:

Ipswich Highland Gathering of the Clans

June 10
Ipswich, QLD Australia

Scottish stalls, pipe band, solo and drumming competitions at Bill Paterson Oval, Limestone Park. Info: 0411 892 810 or

Scots on The Rocks Chaotic Ceilidh

June 17
Sydney, NSW Australia

Featuring music by ARIA Award winning Chris Duncan & Catherine Strutt, it will be a night of energetic and popular dances. Info: 0435 154 433 or

Townsville Clansmen’s Ceilidh

June 17
Townsville, QLD Australia

Celebrate Scotland on the eve of the Townsville Tartan Day events. Info: Marie Gibson 0413 456 542 or

The Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular & Fassifern Highland Gathering

June 17June 18
Boonah, QLD Australia

A celebration of Scottish arts and culture with a particular focus on celebrating the Scottish heritage of the Fassifern at Boonah Showgrounds. Info: or 0407 960 029

Scotland vs Australia

June 17
Sydney, NSW Australia

International rugby as the Aussies and Scots play at Allianz Stadium at 3pm. Info:

Townsville Tartan Day

June 18
Townsville, QLD Australia

In the Cotters Market, Flinders Street with street parade of Clan Banners and bagpipes. Info: Marie Gibson or 0413 456 542.

The National Piping Centre’s Virginia Piping and Drumming School

June 18June 23
Winchester, VA United States

Back for 2017 learn from this fantastic line-up of piping and drumming teachers at Shenandoah University. Info:

Scottish Heritage Week

June 22July 1
Sydney, NSW Australia

The Scottish Australian Heritage Council is delighted to announce that John, Chief of Macleod of Raasay, and Elizabeth, Madame Macleod of Raasay, have accepted our invitation to be the Honoured Guests for Scottish Heritage Week. A variety of events will take place across the city such as Clans and Families Forum, Parliamentary Lunch for Tartan Day, annual inspection of the Scotland Australian Cairn, Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan for Tartan Day and more. Info:


Scottish Dancing Association of Australia’s Ceilidh Debutante Ball 2017

June 24
Newtown, NSW Australia

Ceilidh dancing, Scottish Highland dancing performances by SDAA Dancers, live pipe band music and prizes at The Great Dining Hall, St Andrews College, University of Sydney, 19 Carillon Ave. Info: Alison Hughes 0404 145 622 or

Scotland in the Park 2017

June 25
Greenbank, QLD Australia

A full day of Scottish events including pipe bands, entertainment, Scottish stalls ands more at Middle Green Sports Complex, 720  Middle Rd. Info: Neil Macdonald 0412 090 990 or

Queensland Highland Pipers Society Pipers Night

June 26
Toowong, QLD Australia

Strathspeys and Reels at BBC Band Room, Moggill Rd. Info: 07 3397 4512.

Celtic Piping Sessions

June 27
Melbourne, VIC Australia

Piping music session 2pm – 5pm, upstairs at the Exford Hotel, 199 Russell St. Info:

The Bay City Rollers Australian Tour

June 29July 21
Nationwide, Australia

Rollermania with the greatest hits tour featuring Les McKeown with a new energy for all the classic hits. Info:

Scotland the Brave

June 30
Melbourne, VIC Australia

The international smash hit features over 100 choral singers, dancers, pipe-band and drum corps, soloists, Highland dancers and electric Celtic fiddlers at Arts Centre Melbourne, 8:00pm. Info: or bookings:

Brunswick Scottish Society Highland Ceilidh

June 30
Brunswick, VIC Australia

Includes 2 course meal with entertainment from Highland Pipe Band, Highland dancing display, Scottish country dancing, old time dancing to the Hat Band. Dancing for our young patrons. Cost: adults: $50, students: $30,children under 12: $20. Info: Ina Graham 03 8361 0308.

Maclean – a wee piece of Scotland in Australia’s tropical heat.

Today I’m sharing a delightful little piece about a delightful little town in my home region called ‘Maclean’.

Located in the heart of the Clarence Valley, alongside the mighty Clarence River, Maclean boasts itself as ‘the Scottish town in Australia’. Of course it looks and feels nothing like anywhere in Scotland but the town does owe its very existence to Scottish migrants to the region in the 1860’s.

When the town was laid out it was named after the then New South Wales Surveyor General Alexander Grant McLean. Although how the spelling variation came about when naming the town is a mystery.

Main Street Maclean. 

Despite the vast distances to Scotland and the vastly different environment the residents of Maclean remained true to their heritage. Today the town hosts one of the oldest Highland Gatherings in the country where for the past 113 years the Maclean Highland gathering is held every Easter.

Although there is nothing physically familiar within the town itself that reminds people of our ancient homeland the town is colourfully decorated with Clan tartans on power poles, street signs are posted in English and Scottish Gaelic and in the Herb Stanford Memorial Park there is a Scottish cairn with Clan crests fixed around the base of the cairn, a fitting memorial to the contribution Scottish settlers made to the Clarence and to Australia. Also within the park are a number of totem poles painted in Scottish clan tartans.


If you’re fortunate enough to be visiting this stunning region, Maclean is located just off the Pacific Highway between Grafton and Yamba and well worth the visit. While you’re there pay a visit to ‘The Scottish Shop’ which specialises in the Scottish heritage of the area, with advice on tracing family clans.

They have a range of tartan samples to help identify family tartans. The shop is staffed by volunteers and managed by the Clarence Valley Council and the Lower Clarence Scottish Association. Tourist information and Scottish inspired souvenirs are also available as well as general inquiries on Scottish issues in Maclean.

Hours are 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 12 noon on Saturday.