A Scottish Gem in Australia
Maclean, the ‘Scottish Town in Australia’ is a hidden gem nestled in the Clarence Valley of northern New South Wales.
The small, friendly riverside town has always been proud of its history and ancestry and this remains highly visible along with the welcoming and vibrant approach to the modern day and the many visitors.
Maclean was settled by mostly Scottish Highlanders in 1835-40, who, as a result of the Highland Clearances and famine, left their homes in Scotland and migrated in large numbers to Australia, building a new home in this foreign land. The area was recognized as profitable due to the many valuable cedar trees, sought after by the growing colony, excellent fishing, and its superior location along the Clarence River. Many of the descendants of these original settlers still live in the area, and they remember and celebrate these people in many ways.
The town is still a base for a fishing fleet delivering fresh prawns and seafood. Maclean is also the southern gateway to the Australian sugar industry with the oldest working sugar mill located nearby at Harwood.
Modern Events and Attractions
Maclean residents show immense pride in their Scottish heritage. There are lots of nods to a Scottish homeland, including Gaelic translations on street signs, the Stone Cottage & Bicentennial Museum, and the ‘Scottish Corner’ information centre, not to mention the very Scottish main street, and the hints of Scotland at every corner. They also erected their own Cairn in Stanford Park, the Maclean Scottish Cairn celebrates the contribution made to building the area by early settlers, and those that carry on their legacy.
Another celebration of early settlers and others instrumental in the building of Maclean began in 2000, when the Scottish Town in Australia committee initiated a project to paint Maclean’s power poles in various selected tartans. These early settlers and contributors to Maclean have been immortalized with their Clan tartans decorating poles near to their original business or homes. There are currently over 200 poles painted in Clan tartans, which with their bright colours and beautiful designs, add a delightfully Scottish feel for travelers, and a reminder of ancestors, for many locals.
The widely recognized and hugely popular festival in Maclean is the Highland Gathering. This annual event has been delighting locals and visitors for well over 100 years and, is a major event on the Maclean calendar. Traditionally held on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, these games include a parade of pipe bands, drumming, highland dancing and competitive Scottish sports, bringing competitors from far and wide.
- Scottish Cairn
- Heritage Trail
- The Pinnacle & Lookout
- Tartan Power Poles
Planning your visit!
With its central location in the Clarence Valley, Maclean is also an excellent place to base yourself, while you explore nearby Yamba, Grafton, Brooms Head, Iluka and the beautiful National Parks in the area, plus the beautiful coastline, all in an area boasting arguably the best climate in the world.
For more information on Maclean visit the Clarence Valley website here. Maclean is a lovely place to visit. Come and experience for yourself!
Source: Clarence Valley Visitor Information Centre