Boondooma Homestead’s parking manager Brownie, Paige Plunkett from the Rum City Highland Dancers and Boondooma Homestead manager Buddy Thomson were ready to welcome guests with highland dancing, a tot of Scotch and a very big stick if they misbehaved

August 23, 2017

This year’s annual Scots In The Bush Festival at Boondooma Homestead set a new record for attendances, with 405 caravans packing the grounds and an estimated 1000 visitors taking part in the three day event.

Boondooma Homestead manager Buddy Thomson said he was astonished by the roll-up, which was more than a third bigger than last year, and believed the festival could soon rival the Homestead’s popular Bush Balladeers Muster, which is held each April.

Scots In The Bush started in 2010 and attracted about 72 visitors to its first outing.

It was set up to acknowledge three Scots who settled the area in 1842 and went on to found Boondooma Station, which once covered a 1000 sq mile area stretching from Proston to Brovinia Creek, Darr Creek and west to the Great Dividing Range.

While the station itself no longer exists, Boondooma Homestead’s museum and grounds preserve the 175 years of history in between.

Scots In The Bush, like the Muster, is a fundraiser to help the Homestead’s volunteers continue to expand and improve one of the South Burnett’s most unique tourist attractions.

And this year it paid off in spades.

Guests came from all over south-east Queensland to enjoy three days of non-stop Celtic music and Highland dancing, along with the Festival’s often hilarious Highland Games.

Along the way, bolder souls also had the opportunity to sample some rare Highland delicacies like haggis, while less bold souls got to enjoy more traditional Aussie fare from the Homestead’s camp kitchen.

This year’s Festival was officially opened by South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell, who partnered Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff to the event.

Mayor Campbell said he was a bit wary about coming because he’d heard there might be some McDonalds in the audience (the ancient enemies of the Campbell clan).

However, in a spirit of friendship he was willing to set aside any urges to commit a highland atrocity if they were willing to do the same.

Laughing, the McDonalds who heard his speech agreed.

The Festival began last Thursday night with some evening performances in the Homestead’s amphitheatre while caravanners found campsites in the densely-packed grounds, before swinging into full gear on Friday.

However the official opening was postponed until Saturday so weekend visitors could enjoy the Kirkin’ O’ The Tartan, the Address Tae The Haggis and the Homestead’s own contribution to Scottish mythology, solving the mystery of what Scotsmen wear under their kilt.

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff explained that each year since the festival began the Homestead added an extra inch to its tape measure and then lifted a kilt that distance to see what might be found.

This year, she said, the tape measure had expanded from its original setting of seven inches to 14 inches, so she was certain the mystery would be solved at some point in the near future.

Scotsman Gervie Fullerton assured Cr Duff the only thing under a Scotsman’s kilt was a pair of socks and shoes.

But Cr Duff was not to be dissuaded and had her assistants hold Mr Fullerton while a third lifted his kilt the prescribed distance.

Then Mayor Campbell and Cr Duff each took a turn on the bagpipes, followed by a tartan ribbon cutting.

Afterwards the pair admired the Homestead’s latest addition – a giant covered awning that shades the area in front of the spacious amphitheatre and provides an almost cathedral-like entrance.

The new awning was erected by the Homestead’s volunteers in May this year, and Scots In The Bush was its first road-test in front of a large crowd.

Related articles:

Before the official opening began, guests gathered on stage to parade their individual clan tartans …
… and this year there were so many clans on stage the musicians were soon pushed to one side …
… to make room for all the Scots (and some Irish) who were in attendance
The official opening ceremony began with a glass of Scotch, and all glasses were dutifully filled on stage in front of a freshly prepared haggis …
… then downed in short order
After this, the haggis was sternly addressed …
… before the annual quest to find out what’s under a Scotsman’s kilt began …
… and the answer (once again) turned out to be socks and shoes
After this, Mayor Keith Campbell took a turn on the bagpipes …
… and so did Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff, who gave a virtuoso performance
Unwilling to be upstaged, Mayor Campbell produced a tartan ribbon for the final ribbon-cutting ceremony, which Cr Duff noted approvingly was pink
As part of the opening, Buddy Thomson presented Leslie and Bob Somerset with life memberships of Boondooma Homestead; Bob had been instrumental in persuading the former Wondai Shire Council to buy the Homestead when he was the area’s local Councillor many years ago
A new feature at the Homestead that drew lots of favourable comments is an extension to the front of the amphitheatre, which was built in May this year; the extension provides extra shade for guests and adds a dramatic entrance to Boondooma Homestead’s entertainment area
Young fiddle players Isla Russell, 12, Emma Horn, 10, and Amelie Russell, 10, came from Noosa with their parents to enjoy the festival
Highland dancing teacher Amanda Plunkett has been bringing her Rum City Highland Dancers to Scots In The Bush ever since it began; her daughter Paige, 6, is now dancing at the festival too
Mayor Keith Campbell and Cr Kathy Duff chatted with Gervais (“Gervie”) Fullerton after the opening ceremony; Gervie recently celebrated his 88th birthday and attributes his sprightliness to a fondness for bagpipes, haggis and aged single malts
Members of the Noosa Pipe Band prepare to enter the amphitheatre for their performance

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