160th Maryborough Highland Gathering

cancelled due to Covid 19

The Board of the Maryborough Highland Society has reluctantly made the hard decision to cancel the 160th Annual Maryborough Highland Gathering which was scheduled to be held on Friday 1st January 2021 at Princes Park, Maryborough.

Facing the uncertainty of what restrictions will continue to be in place in January, the prospect of having limited or no crowds at the upcoming Gathering, travel restrictions, and bands and competitors not being able to train, the Maryborough Highland Society was facing costs of up to $80,000 to host this year’s event, more than double what the Society budgets to host this community carnival. 


President of the Maryborough Highland Society Andrew Rae stated in relation to this decision:

“The decision to cancel the Maryborough Highland Gathering for 2021 was one that that the Board were very reluctant to make, but one that had to be made now in order to give athletes, bands and entertainment suppliers sufficient notice of our intention.” 

 “This decision was made in consultation with bands and athletes who had informed the Society that under the current restrictions that they had not been able to practice nor train and with the prospect of limited crowd numbers, the Society had no choice but to cancel one of Maryborough’s biggest events of the year”

This will be the second time since 1857 that the Maryborough Highland Society has had to cancel the Maryborough Highland Gathering, with the only other time being during World War II when no Highland Gathering was held between 1942 and 1945.

General Manager of the Maryborough Highland Society Malcolm Blandthorn added;

“This was a decision that no one wanted to make, however if the Gathering was to proceed, likely restrictions on numbers in a public place would have seen the public shut out as the number of athletes, bands and volunteers would have met any restricted number set”

In the end we could not justify hosting an event for the Maryborough Community, where the community wasn’t invited”  

The Maryborough Highland Society is yet to decide on whether the 60th Jubilee of the Australian Pipe Band Championships will proceed.  The Australian Pipe Band Championships were originally scheduled to be held in April this year but due to Covid restrictions were rescheduled until the 10th and 11th April in 2021.

Any future decision on the Australian Pipe Band Championships will be made in consultation with Pipe Bands Australia and in accordance with any restriction(s) that may be in place.

The Maryborough Highland Gathering is Australia's oldest continuous running sporting event.

Now into its 160th Year

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 150 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 158th year.