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Monday, April 21, 2008

Brigadoon at Bundanoon: the 32nd Annual Highland Gathering

Who doesn't appreciate a man in a kilt?

We made the trip to Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands for the 32nd annual Brigadoon Highland Gathering a few weekends ago. The promise of haggis, black pudding and shortbread was too good to resist, let alone the excitement of watching the Highland Games that included caber tossing, haggis throwing and lifting of the Stones of Manhood, a feat that features in the World's Strongest Man competitions.

But first, a detour via Berrima for a breakfast of Devonshire tea. The Old Bakery Tearooms were closed (the owners were at Bundanoon, we heard) so we made do with scones, jam and cream at Berrima Bakery across the road.

Date scones with jam and cream and a pot of tea $7.50

The scones were light and fluffy, although not quite as wondrous as my memory of the ones at the Old Bakery Tearooms. Although the little glass servers for the jam and cream were cute, they did present a precarious balancing act for our server. Cream was also disappointingly the aerated kind.

Pots of tea did well to warm our bellies though, the air crisp and clean at a bracing temperature of about four degrees.

Plain scones with jam and cream and a pot of tea $7.50

It wasn't much further to Bundanoon, a picturesque town (population about 2,000) that was visibly overflowing with cars, coaches and tourists. We joined the crowds on the pilgrimage to the oval and with our $15 entry badges secured, we were soon witness to an impressive display of 25 pipe bands marching in unison in the centre of the grounds.

Haggies, neeps and tatties $7.00

More impressive was the prospect of digging into the award-winning haggis from Anderson's Haggis, a South Australian company bringing joy to many a homesick Scotsman or Scotswoman. Most haggis I've tried has been overly peppery, but this version was deliciously nutty, sweet with onion and only faintly recognisable as offal. Traditionally made with sheep's heart, liver and lungs, we noted oatmeal, barley and a pleasing blend of salt and spices.

It's hearty stuff. We're soon struggling with the two scoops of haggis and matching mounds of mashed potato (tatties) and swedes (neeps). It's the kind of meal I could quite happily eat on a cold winter's night in front of the telly, slowing savouring each spoonful.

Scottish confectionary

So many choices...

Hand-decorated fruit cakes

Egg tossing (the Highland Games are open to one and all)

Caramel meringue sundae $3.50

The fooding continues with a wonderfully simple caramel meringue sundae - crunchy meringue, a spoonful of fresh whipped cream, a dollop of ice cream and a generous swirl of caramel sauce. I'm replicating this one at my next dinner party.

Scottish square slice sausage $4.00

I'd been intrigued by the selling of Scottish square slice sausage, which looks like slab of sausage mince generous with cereal. It tastes that way too, quite soft and fatty on the tongue, but pan-fried to a golden crisp that marries well with a hearty dollop of HP sauce.

Black pudding on a roll $5.50

Black pudding, also from Anderson's, isn't as rich as I'd expect, with less blood than I'd hoped. Its charred surface does make it a tasty delight though.

Caber tossing

The art of caber tossing is one that requires supreme strength and skill. The goal is not height nor distance, but to toss the caber so it somersaults and lies on the ground at a position of 12 o'clock, as if the tosser were standing at 6 o'clock. It's no mean feat as most people discover.

Lifting of the Bundanoon Stones of Manhood (110kg stone pictured)

The Lifting of the Bundanoon Stones of Manhood is the biggest crowd pleaser. These smooth perfectly spherical stones must be hoisted onto the top of barrel as fast as possible. The five stones start at 90kg and ascend to 100kg, 110kg, 130kg and 150kg. Only the reigning champion can lift the fifth one. Everybody cheers.

We end the day with iced coffees at a cafe in Mittagong. A long but happy day out that is fun for all the family, and all the kids at heart.

Berrima Bakery
Shop 5, Oldbucks Corner,
Wingecarribee Street, Berrima
Tel: +61 (02) 4877 2366

Brigadoon at Bundanoon is held on a Saturday every year in April.
The 32nd annual Highland Gathering was held on Saturday April 5, 2008.
Entry fee was $15 for adults, $4 for children, $35 for a family
2 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/21/2008 09:23:00 pm


  • At 4/22/2008 11:43 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    I only just heard of this festival recently. I'm glad you captured it well. It looks like a fun day, even with haggis involved ;) Great that you could make such nice stopovers fro morning and afternoon tea as well.

  • At 4/26/2008 9:25 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Rachel - The haggis was the best part!! The festival was lots of fun. Maybe one to attend next year? :)


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