2018 Daylesford Highland Gathering

Over the past weekend we were off to Daylesford Victoria for their annual Highland Gathering. Last year was washed out with really heavy rains so I was delighted to attend this year. I took the family with me and it was an enjoyable little trip for all of us. Daylesford is located in Central Victoria about 4 hours from home:

Daylesford, Victoria is marked

It’s a bit of a hippy town with all kinds of interesting people wandering around and some really cool little shops. The Highland Gathering there is the kick off for the Victorian Pipe Band competition season and it’s a great way to start the ball rolling for a band. For us it’s the first weekend away with the team and a great opportunity to catch up, drink a few tins and have a tune or two. I’ve had many great experiences at Daylesford and this time around was no different.

There was an absence of Grade 2 bands this year, and only Scotch College competed in the Grade 3 MSR/Medley competition. Victoria Scottish (my band, and also in Grade 3) competed in the street march but we are in a rebuilding phase so skipped the main contest. Nonetheless Grade 4 was well represented and hotly contested. As usual there are the Clan tents and a sprinkling of food and assorted vendors around the grounds. Beautiful and sunny for most of the day, but a change came through around 3:30 and the wind kicked up. Results for the competition are available on the Pipe Bands Victoria website: http://www.pipebandsvic.com/ so check that out if you’re interested. Thankfully I managed to skip the formalities at the end and didn’t have to play in massed bands. The public love this, the bands less so. Kudos indeed to the organisers of the event – it runs smoothly and attracts a lot of people to it. I’m not sure of exact numbers, but apart from the normal band groupies, there were many members of the public there. Hopefully next year we’re back to compete and give it a red hot crack again. It’s great to see so many pipe band members out and about and my wife reckons I know most of them.

Yours truly on the march during the Street March in 2014. Image from: https://daylesfordhighland.com/

For us it was an exercise in how to make a family weekender work in a way where we didn’t spend a million dollars on necessities and instead spent money on the things we wanted to. So we took bread, ham, cheese and all sorts of other core ingredients for sandwiches and the like from home. It was great to stop along the way, bust out the esky and have lunch or dinner and not spend a cent – living completely out of the car and what we’d brought with us. I can recommend a nice chutney to spice up a ham/cheese/tomato sandwich – especially a chutney made by the little old ladies of Daylesford. Boom – flavour overload on a couple of them (and one was so hot I could feel my nose hairs burning!). The most expensive part of the trip was accommodation – and after the storm on Saturday night, it was money well spent. Howling winds, lashing rain, thunder and lightning were the staples of the late evening terrifying the kids and nearby dogs alike. I’m am very glad we weren’t in a tent or swags – I think the downpour would have overwhelmed the water proofing. There were branches and trees down all over the place in the morning, but fortunately no damage to us, our accommodation or the car. A four hour power outage meant things were very quiet for a while too (and thankfully dark – the nearby soccer field had it’s big lights on most of the night. We were glad to see them dark). There is a lot to see and do around Daylesford and that was the order of business for Sunday.

It’s a certainty on a trip to visit the Chocolate Mill. It’s a great little place just outside Daylesford and has great products coupled with a very good cafe. Check it out here: http://chocmill.com.au/ A trip to Hepburn Springs is always great too – there are quite a few mineral springs scattered around the little park. Wyuna is one the kids like and the Hepburn Spring got the thumbs up too. We filled a bunch of water bottles saved especially for the occasion. There is also a great kids playground there that we had to drag the kids away from.

A shot of the park where the springs are. Image from https://www.visithepburnshire.com.au/listing/hepburn-springs-mineral-reserve/

In summary it was a great weekender away, and by the time we got home late Sunday we were exhausted. The storm had hammered the kids and they hadn’t slept so spent most of the time in the car out of it. Once again, Apple Maps choose a different way for us to go home – making this yet again a new route for us to follow. I have never been on the same track twice going to Daylesford. The wonders of modern mapping technology… Highly recommend a visit down there and we will definitely go back again.


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