Welcome to the beautiful Southern Highlands – the Wingecarribee Shire of NSW – for this, the 37th Annual Highland Gathering here in Bundanoon.
Before I start I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of this land on which we meet today and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
Few would argue that today Bundanoon truly is Brigadoon!
A special welcome to today’s Chieftain, Ms Valerie Cairney and her husband who have travelled from balmy Florida, USA to join us.
I trust you enjoy our Scottish festival today – which I unashamedly think is one of the premier Scottish gatherings in the world – because it’s blended with the perfect amount of good old fashioned Australiana!
Valerie is of course the Editor and Publisher of the Scottish Banner newspaper.
First published in Toronto Canada 38 years ago, the Scottish Banner is now available across the globe with major distribution right here in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and of course Scotland.
I couldn’t help but think of the comparisons of the Banner’s readership than with our very own Highland Gathering here today.
We are all here first and foremost to celebrate all things Scottish, but for many visitors today, this will be their first taste of Bonnie Scotland.
Visitors with ancestry from around the globe can be found here today.
But whilst the nationalities may be mixed, our welcome is universal!
Perhaps like Valerie, you too may have even made the long journey from overseas! Perhaps even from Scotland?
Wherever you call home, I trust you have a fabulous day and enjoy the hospitality we Southern Highlanders are renowned for.
Because for me, this celebration of multiculturalism and friendship, make these Annual Highland Games here in Bundanoon so special.
Brigadoon really does create a wonderful sense of community in and around the village of Bundanoon and the greater Southern Highlands.
It brings people together from all walks of life to have a wee bit of fun.
But behind this fun and frivolity lies a great deal of hard work that has far reaching implications across our Shire.
ALL surplus monies raised from today will be disbursed to local charities and volunteer groups.
And it’s been that way for 37 fabulous years!
So whilst today’s event is obviously a boon for local tourism operators, retailers and accommodation houses, countless local charities and volunteer groups have also benefitted from this, the Shire’s largest single-day annual event.
In fact, over the history of the games, well over $1 million dollars has been returned to the local community.
These benefits alone are truly enormous and because of this, I pay particular thanks to the Games Committee and the many volunteers who selflessly give up their time to ensure Brigadoon magically reappears each year.
Much of their work is of course carried out long before the day and their efforts, in conjunction with Council, can be seen in the improvements to the ground’s facilities.
Their work has made Bundanoon Oval the envy of many public grounds across the Shire.
On behalf of Wingecarribee Shire Council and our wider community, I thank you all for creating and maintaining one of Highland’s premier tourist attractions…. and now one of the world’s largest annual single-day Highland Gatherings.
Again, welcome to the Wingecarribee Shire and welcome to Brigadoon!
And remember, unlike the theatrical version of Brigadoon, you only have to wait 12 months for this fabulous spectacle to reappear.
Please enjoy yourselves whatever the weather throws at you and I look forward to your return in April 2015!
Councillor Juliet Arkwright
Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council