This year Clan Cameron will be the ‘Honoured Clan’ at Townsville Tartan Day (Sunday 18 June) and Wayne and Kate Cameron will be marching proudly as they celebrate their Scottish heritage.
Thousands of Scots will be waiting to welcome the pipe bands as they march across Victoria Bridge towards Ogden Street for the opening of Townsville Tartan Day on Sunday 18 June. Among them will be Wayne and Kate Cameron and their family, including their three-year-old grandson Hamish, who will be donning a kilt for the special occasion.
“It’s very exciting for Clan Cameron this year as they are leading the parade,” Kate says. “My husband Wayne will be walking tall as he proudly represents his clan!”
Big fans of Scottish history and of the hit Outlander series set in Scotland in 1743, Kate jokes that Wayne is her very own version of Jamie and laughs “we may have taken it too far when our granddaughter was named Claire after the main character” in the series based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon.
Kate wasn’t born a Scot (she’s a Home Hill girl) but, make no mistake, the day she married her Scottish husband Wayne she become a part of Clan Cameron.
“When I became engaged to Wayne, he gave me a traditional Luckenbooth brooch. On our wedding day, he used it to fasten the tartan sash to my shoulder to symbolically welcome myself and my two daughters into the family.”
Sons-in-law are also symbolically welcomed to the clan with a tartan riband on their wedding day. “This brings implications of obligation to family unity, standing shoulder to shoulder so to speak,” Kate says.
“It’s a bit like traditional family values… just a little more intense.”
While the clan isn’t called upon to fight like it was in the past, that bond still remains strong – particularly as the Camerons were important in the Jacobite rising of 1745. When Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland, they were one of the first clans to join him. Many lost their lives at the Battle of Culloden while others dispersed across the world, many to America and Canada.
“One of the reasons Townsville Tartan Day is significant to us is because we were banned from wearing the tartan for so long for political reasons,” Kate says.
“Townsville Tartan Day is important as a chance to proudly display the tartan that was banned in Scotland from 1746 to 1782 following the Jacobite rebellion. Many Scots carried tartan secretly on their person and were flogged or went to jail for it, so it was very exciting when it was again legal to wear tartan in public.
“Townsville Tartan Day is a day of celebration and remembrance for what our forebears went through. A chance to stand together as proud Scots. Yes in another country, yes with so many things changed, but with a focus on finding a new way for the clan to mean something into the future.”
Now in its fourth year, Townsville Tartan Day drew a 10,000-strong crowd last year and this year it’s expected to be even bigger.
“The atmosphere is amazing, with people recognising their family tartan, sometimes for the first time in years,” says Marie Gibson from the Townsville Scottish Community Inc. “People will be able to flip through folders of actual tartan samples, recalling memories of what was worn by older members of their family or learning to identify their own tartan.”
“Townsville Tartan Day is important as a chance to proudly display the tartan that was banned in Scotland from 1746 to 1782 following the Jacobite rebellion.”
Volunteers from the Family History Association of North Queensland will be on hand to help people trace their Scottish family links. And with the 2016 Census revealing 20,499 Townsville residents have Scottish ancestry (with 410 actually born in Scotland) the chances of discovering a connection are high.
Bulletin Square will come to life with Scottish dancing and music by Celtyc Fyre, as well as a demonstration of Scottish feats of strength such as ‘lifting the stones’ by the big men from Iron Roots Strength and Conditioning.
Another event the Camerons are looking forward to beyond Townsville Tartan Day is the 2018 Australian Clan Cameron Gathering in the Gold Coast from Friday 20 April to Sunday 22 April.
“It will be so exciting to have the whole clan come together,” Kate says.
“We’d like all people with the surname of Cameron to come forward and walk under their banner in the Parade of Tartans at Townsville Tartan Day (phone 0413 456 542 to register your participation). We’re also working on building a stronger clan connection locally and would love to hear from Camerons through the Townsville Scottish Community Inc.”