Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
The unmistakable sounds of the bagpipes and drums which filled the air above Maclean during the Easter long weekend, signalled the triumphant return of one of the Clarence Valley’s most characteristic, culturally significant and popular local events.
After being cancelled in 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and faced with the possibility of history repeating itself this year, the 116th Maclean Highland Gathering went ahead as planned on April 2 and 3.
While abiding to social distancing, upwards of 2000 spectators enjoyed a colourful and competitive display of Highland Dancing, Highland sports such as the caber toss and log wrestling, and traditional pipe band performances at the Maclean Showground.
Describing himself as “relieved and extremely happy” that the event was able to go ahead, Secretary of the Lower Clarence Scottish Association Alister Smith, said the return of the Highland Gathering this year was fantastic and the weekend couldn’t have gone better.
Mr Smith also revealed that 13 of the 16 bands who attended and competed at the event were from Queensland, and the recent lifting of Covid-19 restrictions north of the border, significantly boosted numbers over the weekend.
“There was a pretty high standard of bands which competed,” Mr Smith said. “Thankfully, most of the bands from Queensland were able to travel to Maclean and most of the prizes were taken out by interstate bands.
“Fortunately, we had no rain in Maclean during the Highland Gathering and despite crowd numbers being lower compared to the last time the event was held, it really
couldn’t have gone better.
“It was a fabulous time and all the locals and visitors enjoyed themselves.”
Official guest of the 116th Maclean Highland Gathering Andrew Fraser, who served as a Member of the Legislative
Assembly in NSW as a Member for Coffs Harbour for close to 30 years, said it was great that the event was able to be held and he enjoyed watching the Highland band competitions alongside his grandchildren.
A regular attendee of the popular local event, Mr Fraser said he is already looking forward to attending the 117th Maclean Highland Gathering in 2022 and commended
the organisers for making the event so successful.
Mr Smith also thanked and acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the Maclean Show Society for their commitment and hard work to ensure the Maclean Showground was in
pristine order to host the event following the recent flood which saw the grounds disappear beneath the Clarence River less than a fortnight ago.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 7 April 2021.