I WAS trying to explain to a friend from Brisbane recently what exactly a "highland gathering" was.

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She was fascinated by the idea of pipe bands marching down the street, and all the festivities of the gathering at the showground.

"Such interesting things seem to happen in your small town," she said.

It got me thinking. When I was younger, I didn't have an appreciation for all the events that go on in the Clarence Valley, from the gathering to the Jacaranda Festival and Surfing the Coldstream.

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Now that I'm a bit older, and having just moved back to the region after six years in Brisbane, I appreciate just what these festivals mean to the community.

I met people at the showgrounds from across Australia, who travelled far and wide to be a part of the highland gathering. They ranged from first-timers to seasoned veterans, and one thing they all had in common was how they enjoyed their time and an intention to come back next year.

These types of festivals are what make regional areas like the Clarence Valley unique, and entertain visitors and residents alike.

If the valley is going to make the most of the opportunities presented by the upgraded highway and the increased traffic travelling through, festivals like Jacaranda and the highland gathering should be supported as best they can.

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