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Maclean Scottish Town Committee president Bob MacPherson (left) and secretary, Warren Rackham, are happy that their ‘fingerboard’ tourist information signpost and thematic banner poles and artworks are finally installed. Linda ElMir painted the pictures. Images: Geoff Helisma

Scottish committee’s tribute to ‘local cultural themes’

Geoff Helisma

A storm in January 2018 destroyed three banner poles along the roadway at McLachlan Park in Maclean; last week the Maclean Scottish Town Committee welcomed their reinstallation.

‘I’m happy to report that the poles are now back in place, with new banners showcasing the Clarence River’s history,” committee president Bob MacPherson said.

As well as the thematic poles, the Scottish committee has erected a “fingerboard” tourist information signpost adjacent to the pedestrian crossing.

Maclean Scottish Town Committee president Bob MacPherson (left) and secretary, Warren Rackham, are happy that their ‘fingerboard’ tourist information signpost and thematic banner poles and artworks are finally installed. Linda ElMir painted the pictures. Images: Geoff Helisma

Mr MacPherson said the pandemic most likely played a part in the delay, as did failed negotiations, facilitated by Crown land manager of the park Clarence Valley Council (CVC), with native title holders, Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (TOAC).

“To their credit, when council came good, they did the right thing and funded installation the new banner poles and fingerboard sign,” Mr MacPherson said.

“We’re very pleased the job is done and have to say thank you to CVC for its part to install them.”

The committee funded the tourist information sign and the artworks that adorn the poles, which were painted by local artist, Linda ElMir, who has worked with the committee for decades -– she painted Maclean’s tartan poles and the mural that featured on the old flood wall (among others), which was demolished to upgrade the park.

The association’s initial proposal included the erection of a ‘contemporary Scotsman statue’ within the park, however, the Yaegl TOAC has always “strongly” opposed the idea.

A report to the July 2020 CVC meeting outlined the Yaegl TOAC’s opposition to “proposed placement of the statue at this location due to the: proximity to the demarcation line and the enduring social impact that this social policy (demarcation) had on individuals and the community in general. It is noted that survivors of this policy remain in the community; apparent perpetuation of this social policy (Scottish person standing guard on the line); cultural activities that traditionally occurred in this location (identified corroboree site); and, impact of the construction of the statue on the Native Title rights that have been determined to exist on the reserve.”

The report noted that “the Scottish Association through its endeavours contributes to tourism in Maclean through the celebration of the town’s European heritage, namely, that the town was named after Alexander Grant McLean, who was the New South Wales surveyor-general from 1861-1862; and a large number of the early settlers in the valley were originally from Scotland.

“The association’s endeavours include (but are not limited to); staffing the Scottish shop that provides information on Scottish family names and Maclean generally; painting Scottish tartans on the base of the telegraph poles; construction of a cairn in the Herb Stanford Memorial Park, of rocks from all over Australia and from Scotland; erecting banner poles through the town centre and supporting the 116-year-old Maclean Highland Gathering.”

 

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