March 26, 2012
BUNDANOON IS BRIGADOON – AND A REEL HOOT
IF marvelling at brawny blokes tossing around what appear to be scaled-down power poles with nary a wince is your thing, or equally so watching them lift great round stones that weigh as much (or more) than they do, then come April 21 little Bundanoon – half-way between Sydney and Canberra in the NSW Southern Highlands – is the place to be.
Or if such shenanigans may be a bit too hernia-worrying, ponder others playfully hurling water-filled balloons impossible distances for partners to catch without getting a drenching by bursting them (the record is 40.4 metres,) and even others tossing fresh-laid eggs great distances for another to deftly catch without suffering the consequences of gooey breakages (the record for this bizarre activity being an amazing 59.6 metres.)
Then again, as we do, go there simply to graze through 30 food stalls offering treats Scottish, salivating and more-ish: Highland shortbreads and Scots pies, drop scones, gingerbreads and Abernethy biscuits, butterscotches and other home-made confections, and if the stomach is up to it, blood pudding and haggis.
All because like Brigadoon in the stage show and movie, for just one day of the year Bundanoon raises itself out of its early morning Highlands mist, and for that day becomes Brigadoon and all things Scottish.
So popular has it become in it's 35 years that it now attracts over 11,000 visitors, which is more than five times the local population. And every one of them will attest that Bundanoon is Brigadoon is one of the great family outings on the country calendar (and has become one of the largest gatherings of all things Scottish outside Scotland.)
Even City Rail gets in on the act: so those visiting by train know they are getting off at the right place, the BUNDANOON signs on the local railway station are replaced for the day with BRIGADOON.
But Bundanoon is Brigadoon is not just all about grown-up's games, competitions and filling the tummy, there's something for all ages – right down to a Bonnie Bairns Highland Dress Competition for little ones five and under, and more than 100 arts, crafts, Scottish and Tartan variety and specialty stalls.
The 92nd Gordon Highlanders, named after a regiment first formed in 1794 and who later fought in the Battle of Waterloo, will also re-create a "company street" from the time of Waterloo, including mess tent/kitchens, headquarters, a surgeon's tent and military supply hut.
They'll also have men, women and children dressed as Georgian era "camp followers" (those who followed armies and sold them goods and services,) as well as a display of historic firearms, swords and bayonets, demonstrations of muzzle-loading, and will talk about military life during the time of the famous Battle.
There'll also be Scottish Country and Highland Dancing demonstrations – with visitors invited to join in reels and jigs – and a demonstration by the Swordplay School of Theatrical Fencing and Stage Combat.
Other highlights will include individual pipe band displays, and at 9.30am a Street Parade with 25 Pipe Bands, marching Scottish Clans and Societies, and decorated floats.
At 2.30pm there'll be the main Caber Toss with those scaled-down 6-metre power poles, and at 3.10pm the Tartan Warriors will see who amongst them goes home Champion by lifting The Bundanoon Stones of Manhood from the ground onto the tops of wine barrels in the fastest time… the five massive round stones weighing progressively from 115 to 165kgs.
There'll also be a hay toss, shott putt, those egg and water tosses, kilted races, and on stage several times during the day Newcastle's famous Highlander Celtic Rock Band with their unusual combination of bagpipes, fiddles, electric and acoustic guitars, percussions and vocals…
Then finally as the sun sets, the mists descend and the crowds drift off into the gloaming, or stay on for Ceilidh (dancing) in the local hall, Auld Lang Syne rings out as mythical Brigadoon falls again under a magical spell to sleep once more for another year… and Brigadoon Station reverts again to simply Bundanoon.
Entry: $18 adults, $15 Age Pensioners with card, $5 children (5-17 years,) $40 Family (2 adults/2 children.) For pre-purchase of tickets and assistance with accommodation phone 1300 657 559 or visit www.brigadoon.net.au; for general information about Bundanoon is Brigadoon phone the Publicity Officer (02) 4883 7471.
 HERNIA-making stuff, tossing the caber – photo Corinne Dany.
 NOW that's a stone: lifting the Bundanoon Stones of Manhood – photo Corinne
 STIRRING sounds in Bundanoon's Highlands air, the pipes and drums – photo
 EVEN Bundanoon railway station becomes Brigadoon for the day – photo
 PLENTY of stalls to entice you away from the games – photo Jeff McGill.