Kilts out in a cold westerly - brave Scot

BOB MacPherson is hoping the strong, cold westerly winds that have hit the Clarence Valley over the past few days will have dropped before International Tartan Day, to be celebrated at Cameron Park, Maclean, next Saturday.

That wind goes up kilts and 'blows up all sorts of issues' the Maclean, Scottish Town in Australia, president said yesterday.

International Tartan Day is held in early July each year to commemorate the day in 1782 when Scots were again allowed to wear tartan and speak Gaelic after a break of 36 years.

"There was a lot of heartache and blood lost over tartans," Mr MacPherson said.

He said tartans held great significance to the Scots.

They were originally designed as a full body wrap, but have now been cut down in size.

In Australia the pure wool material used to make the tartan is much lighter than that used in Scotland.

Mr MacPherson has one tartan, and has had that for the past 20 years. He said it was as good as new, but it took some care.

Once each year he has it dry-cleaned and moth-proofed, then locks it away in a clip-sealed plastic bag between uses and hangs it on special hangers.

"International Tartan Day gives us a chance to air our tartans and have a great family day," he said.

Included on the program for next Saturday is a celebrity kilted wheelbarrow race between Maclean-based Clarence Valley councillors Jim Simmons and Chris Gulaptis.

Neither are Scottish, but both wanted to be part of the family day, Mr MacPherson said.

Another feature will be the appearance of Brisbane-based Scottish band Jocks & Kilts, who perform a repertoire that includes rock, country and Scottish fused together with electric keyboards and pipes.

There will be competitions for the best kilted knees, best dressed dog, best dressed wee lassies and laddies, a women's hurl the haggis (thankfully nobody has to catch it) and the kilted wheelbarrow race.

Mr MacPherson said all events were focused on providing entertainment for the family.

"There is not much around for families to do together any more," he said.

The day will start with a lone piper playing at the St Mary's church tower at 7am.

The entertainment starts at Cameron Park at 10am. Entry is by donation.

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