161st Maryborough Highland GatheringMonday 1st January 2024
A new year celebration like no other THERE aren’t too many events in Australia that can claim to have thrived and survived for over 160 years and after a two-year hiatus, the Maryborough Highland Gathering is back for its 161st instalment this New Years Day.
Maryborough’s Highland Gathering was originally formed by Scottish squatters and businessmen in an attempt to recreate the New Year celebrations of their native home. Today, the Highland Gathering attracts people from all across the country – athletes, dancers, musicians, and those who just want to soak up the incredible atmosphere of piped bands and traditional Scottish culture.
The program has something for everyone. A piped band street parade, all-day athletics, highland dancing on two stages all day, Highland games and traditional strongmen event. Track events on the day range from 70-metre sprints to middle-distance races over 1500 metres. There are events for both men and women, including veterans. The athletics program culminates with the running of the $15,000 Max Martin Memorial Maryborough Gift, contested over 120 metres; now one of the country’s most prestigious footraces.
Anyone who’s attended the event over the past 35 years will have a lasting memory of the Girl on the Drum spectacular that has become a highlight of the New Year celebrations. It features a highland dancer atop a base drum, lifted to the shoulders of three burly Scots. Flanked by a full piped band and other traditional dancers, it really is a sight and sound spectacular not to be missed. There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained too, with games, sideshows and rides happening throughout the day. The day concludes with a free evening concert and fireworks display – a great way to celebrate the new year.
Entry to Princes Park is $16 for adults, $8 for seniors, with children under 16 free. For more information call 5461 1480
History of the Highland Gathering
The Maryborough Highland Gathering has been conducted each New Year since its formation in 1857 with the enforced exception of the years of 1942-45 when the Australian Commonwealth was at war and the Highland Gathering went into recess for the duration of this national crisis.
The Highland Gathering was originally formed by gold prospectors, Scottish squatters and businessmen who had arrived in the goldfields and central Victoria from Scotland. They organised an event to re create their traditional New Year Highland celebrations in their adopted land.
Combined and melded with Australian sports, recreation and athletics this tradition has survived and thrived for over 160 years and is as popular now as in its inception in 1857.
The Maryborough Highland Gathering has a proven long and proud History and is now into its 161st year.