Pipe Bands at Brigadoon

Brigadoon 2011By Alex Masso, March 2012

When I was growing up in Bowral we would sometimes visit "Brigadoon", one day each year when the town of Bundanoon becomes a major Highland Gathering for the day.  When I was in my late teens I joined a newly formed pipe band in the area – The Highlands Pipes and Drums - and one of our first big gigs was at “Brigadoon”.  Some of the most distinctive things I remember about playing in a pipe band - the street march, the massed bands, and the comeraderie withing the pipe band community (and within bands of course) - are all a major part of Brigadoon.  

I asked Alaistair Saunders from Brigadoon about this year's event on 21 April, and what it means after 35 years as a gathering for Pipe Bands.

Alex Masso: Tell me how Brigadoon has evolved as a musical event.

Alaistair Saunders: In 1977 a group of community minded people got together and decided that the Boronia Festival which had been running in Bundanoon for some considerable years was faltering and there was a need to inject a new project into the village. This passionate steering committee consulted with various community groups and decided to create a Scottish gathering, named The Bundanoon Highland Gathering, “Bundanoon is Brigadoon".


This annual event which began in 1978, its principle aim to raise funds for local charities and bring tourists to Bundanoon in particular and the Southern Highlands in general thereby benefiting local businesses, guest houses and hotels. Continuing to this day, “Bundanoon is Brigadoon” has become one of the most successful events staged in the area. From its humble beginnings of a handful (6) of pipe bands and spectators, the day has grown to into the Premier Highland Gathering in Australia.

The musical performance has changed from a very simple standard of pipe band performance to an outstanding choreographed performance by our Bands coordinator and the Senior Drum Major of the event.

AM: Many people would associate the Brigadoon Highland Gathering with the Pipe Band.  What role do the pipe bands play in the event?

AS: The Pipe Bands initial involvement with the gathering is the Street Parade which start at 9.30am, it is attended by thousands of spectators watching all the preliminary setting up, then the whole of Erith Street from the Village to the oval is packed with spectators watching up to 25 pipe bands participate in the march.

The opening Ceremony, as is the closing ceremony, is a Massed Band spectacular, something that stirs the heart of every migrant Scot, but you don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy the day.

Watch: Massed Bands at Brigadoon 2011 (YouTube)

Brigadoon Street ParadeAM: Where do the bands come from, and do they come every year?  Do you attract interstate or international bands?

AS: The event over the past 35 years has grown in stature and is now on the “must visit” list of pipe bands, we have had to limit the number attending because of our popularity to 25 bands.

It’s a case of first come best dressed, bands throughout NSW, the ACT attend on a regular basis. In 2008 we had our first overseas band attend the gathering, “The Drones and Sticks Pipe Band” from Napier, New Zealand. In 2011 we had the Ringwood Pipe Band from Victoria and in 2012 we will have the City of Launceston RSL Pipe Band from Tasmania.

Every band is given the opportunity to present their own individual performance during the day for a period of 10 minutes. This can involve every, and any, type of music

AM: I understand you feature a different band and drum major each year. What role do they play in the event?

The “Band of the Day” has the distinct privilege of leading the street parade, being the centre band in the massed bands and are accorded the centre field to present their individual display, and they normally designate the “Lone Piper” for the closing ceremony.

AM: What excites you most about the event in 2012?

I suppose the main Item is the massed bands followed by the lone piper. The Closing ceremony is the one part of the day when everything that we have worked so hard to achieve comes to fruition, as the sound of the pipes fade away its time to realise that we had better start planning for the next year.

However I will say two other items that really set the programme on fire are the Tartan Warriors lifting the Bundanoon Stones of Manhood and “Highlander” Celtic Rock Band Australia from Newcastle.

Watch: Amazing Grace, performed by the Massed Bands at Brigadoon (YouTube)

Brigadoon 2011Event: “Bundanoon is Brigadoon” 35th Annual Highland Gathering

Date: Saturday 21 April, 2012

Time: Opening with a Street Parade at 9:30am. Closing Ceremony at 4:30pm

Location: Bundanoon, NSW. (once you get to the village you can’t miss it!)

Cost: Adults $18, Child $5, Family $40 (2 adults + 2 children) Pensioners $15

For more info: www.brigadoon.net.au

If you’re going, check out their excellent Frequently Asked Questions section.

About the Festival

“Bundanoon is Brigadoon” is a non-profit making, registered charity event that readily distributes the funds from the day to local charities and groups that assist the organisers in the administration of the gathering. Read more.


Bands Performing in 2012

The Parramatta RSL Caledonian Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Bruce Craig / Drum Major: Stuart McMillan / Drum Sergeant: Philip Ross

Tartan: Campbell Of Loudon


Canberra City Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Dina Kinsman / Drum Major: John Larkings / Drum Sergeant: Phillip Jones

Tartan: Drum- Canberra



Batemans Bay Soldiers Club Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Gary Dumbrell / Drum Major: Angus McLean / Drum Sergeant: Caitlin McLean

Tartan: Elliot


Lithgow Highland Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Joanne Cambridge / Drum Major: Ray Burgess

Tartan: Royal Stewart



St George Sutherland Scottish Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Max Clark / Drum Sergeant: Ian Gregory

Tartan: McGreggor


The Highlands Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Rob Parker / Drum Sergeant: Alex Packer

Tartan: Macduff



Hornsby RSL Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Graeme Bolton / Drum Major: Brian Thompson / Drum Sergeant: Clive Hutchens

Tartan: Maclaine of Lochbuie



Canberra Celtic Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Fran Emerson / Drum Major: John Roxburgh / Drum Sergeant: Charlotte Uren

Tartan: Irish National



The Scots College Old Boys Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Gordon Robinson / Drum Sergeant: Steven Patterson

Tartan: Various


Burwood RSL Sub Branch Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Frank Fraser / Drum Major: Geoff Lazar / Drum Sergeant: Damien Marshall

Tartan: Black Stewart



NSW Police Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Sam Young / Drum Major: Clarrie Lemme / Drum Sergeant: Gary Sweet

Tartan: Ancient Mackay



City of Queanbeyan Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Richard Harris / Drum Major: Joe Vavra

Drum Sergeant: Chris Vavra

Tartan: Duke of Rothesay



Hills District Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Linden, Mary Neale / Drum Major: Neil Reid / Drum Sergeant: Peter Moroney/Fred Hocking



Illawarra Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Gordon Smith / Drum Sergeant: John Hamilton

Tartan: Wallace



Knox Old Boys Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Allan Watts / Tartan: MacPherson



City of Newcastle RSL Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Merv McMillan / Drum Major: Richard Face / Drum Sergeant: Steve Dorse

Tartan: Gordon



Northern Suburbs Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Robert Pearce OAM / Drum Major: Ken Curran OAM

Tartan: Wallace



Ingleburn RSL Club and Campbelltown Community Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Graeme Noakes / Drum Major: Micheal Donachie / Drum Sergeant: Richard Cotterill

Tartan: Campbell of Cowdor


Castle Hill RSL Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Nick Train / Drum Major: Alex Todd / Drum Sergeant: John Tate

Tartan: Cameron of Erracht


Goulburn Soldiers Club Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Allison Fleming / Drum Major: John Beazley / Drum Sergeant: Murry Fleming

Tartan: Maclean of Dewart


Shoalhaven City Pipes and Drums

Pipe Major: Christopher Langmaid / Drum Major: Michael Jenner / Drum Sergeant: Shane Langmaid

Tartan: Forbes


Liverpool City Pipe Band

Pipe Major: Andrew (China) Iverson / Drum Sergeant: Alan Iverson

Tartan: Macquarie