Queensland Pipe Band championships Gathering of the Clans at Limestone Park. Judge Hazel Osborne.
Queensland Pipe Band championships Gathering of the Clans at Limestone Park. Judge Hazel Osborne. David Nielsen

Why hundreds flocked to Ipswich over the weekend

IT'S that time of year where the streets of Ipswich are filled with the distinct beauty and often haunting sound of Scottish music.

Presented by the Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band, pipe bands from around the country came to battle it out today as part of the annual Gathering of the Clans and Queensland Pipe Band Championships.

Men, women and children competed in the band and drum major competition and Ensemble judge, Hazel Osborne said the passion people displayed for the art form was amazing.

"We've got bands competing from Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and McLean and have other visiting bands who come every year who put in a lot of effort to make that journey, so that's wonderful,” Mrs Osborne said.

"I have played the bagpipes for a very long time myself, since I was a teenager and now I play the bagpipes in the Emmanuel College Highlanders group who will perform today.

"I have also just played at the funeral of fallen police officer Brett Forte where it was our job to lead the procession with the police motorcycles leading the way.

"Our job was to slow march right through the concourse which was very emotional and there must have been around 2000 officers lining the street, so it was very moving.”

The competition which draws people from all walks of life is Ipswich's premier Celtic event and continues to grow from strength to strength.

The amount of women coming through is also increasing and now you can find women in all kinds of leadership roles within the bands.

Sunshine Coast Caledonia Pipes and Drums Tenor tutor Janelle Ballard said bagpipes and drums ran thick in her blood and was proud to share her Scottish heritage with the community.

"I'm a second generation Australian and was raised to believe I was an Australian, but of Scottish heritage and above all, a McLean of Duart,” Mrs Ballard said.

"Once upon a time you had the old school of thought which said women weren't allowed to pipe and unfortunately that carried through in some cases up until the 70s and 80s.

"As early as the 1900s you had all-women pipe bands though, particularly during the war and now there are a lot of female pipe majors and drum sergeants.

"When I first started at the Sunshine Coast there were only three women but now there are 12 of us, so we're kind of taking over.”

Hundreds of people turned out for this year's event held at Bill Paterson Oval in Limestone Park which included Scottish supplies, highland dancing and market stalls.



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