When entering the town Maclean in Northern New South Wales, you immediately notice the Scottish heritage with the tartan poles along the streets.
The tartan poles started as a project by The Maclean Scottish Town Association in 2000. The idea was to paint six poles with tartan designs to coincide with the Olympic Torch being conveyed through Maclean.
The poles proved to be popular and followed with requests for family tartans to be painted. The poles have extended from the centre of town to Harwood Bridge in the north and to Ferry Park in the south. Many more tartan poles are scattered on the streets throughout Maclean.
There are well over 200 tartan poles in Maclean. Residents are able to request a pole to be painted for their family or clan tartan.
The maiden name of my grandmother, Pat Crossley, is Menzies. At the Scottish Information Centre (a few doors north of Wootijdi House), we found there is a Menzies tartan pole and they gave us directions to find it.
We met the person the pole was painted for when he arrived home and spotted me taking photos of the Menzies tartan pole. It was a gift from his wife for one of his birthdays, and interestingly, Menzies is his maternal grandmother’s name as well.
The volunteer at the Scottish Visitor Information Centre was very helpful in providing information about the Menzies Clan family name.
- Arms – Argent, a chief Gules
- Crest – a savage head erased Proper
- Motto – Bil God I zal
- Plant badge – Menzies heath
- Standard – The arms in the hoist and of two tracts Argent and Gules, upon which is depicted the Crest three times and with two sprigs of Menzies heath in the fly, along with the Motto ‘Vil Got I zal’ in letters Argent upon two transverse bands Vert
We tried looking up Greenhill too, as it is Fiona’s surname, and it has been a difficult name to find Scottish information about. There is no Greenhill tartan pole in Maclean but they found some information:
GREENHILL. Local, from one or other of the many small places of the name. Bryce of Grenehill in record, 1478 (ALC). Thomas Grenhil witnessed an appointment by John, earl of Lennox, 1521 (Pollok, I, p.246). James Greinhill was examined for the Test in 1685 (RPC., 3. ser. xi, p. 434).
GREENHILLS. Local. Katherine Greenhills in Hamilton, 1607 (Campsie) probably derived her surname from the old twenty-shilling lands of Greinhillis in the barony of Kilbryde, Lanarkshire. A commission was issued in 1558 for the trial of Johne Grenehillis in Lanark (ER., xix, p. 422). John Greenhills in Brunsie, 1772 (Dunkeld).
Maclean Talking Trail
Tartan Poles were part of the Maclean talking trail, the brown sign is there as part of the talking trail. Headphones were borrowed and audio played as you walked the trail. Below is what was included in the talking trail audio.
As you wander through the streets of Maclean, you cannot help but notice the myriad of decorated power poles featuring the numerous individual Scottish clan tartans.
This amazing project began life in 2000 and was initially developed by the Maclean Scottish Town Association to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Maclean that year.
At first, only a small number of poles were painted however, following much favourable comment from the community, the committee decided to extend the project.
Today, Maclean’s streets feature more than 200 tartan poles stretching from the Harwood bridge through the town and all the way to Ferry Park at the town’s southern end.
The striking artwork was carried out Maclean’s own resident artist, Linda Elmir
My name is Bob Macpherson, and I’m the president of the Maclean, the Scottish Town in Australia Committee, and I’m representing that committee here this morning and talking about the tartan poles here in Maclean.
I fly the flags in Maclean on a Friday and, down on McLachlan Park, I was flying the flags and I noticed there was an old man sitting in the park and he seemed to be there on a day‐to‐day basis, and one week when I was down there on a Friday he called me over.
He said ‘hey sonny, come over here’ and I took that as a great compliment calling me “sonny” at the age of 70, and he said ‘I’ve done an enormous amount of travelling and I sit here each day and I’m totalling engrossed with watching people moving, and coming and going,’ and he said ‘I’ve never in my life been in a town and seen people stop, get out of their car, and give a telegraph pole a hug!’
So the tartans mean a lot to different people so, yes it’s been a wonderful project.Bob Macpherson, Maclean Talking Trail
The location on the map for this destination marks where the brown sign is located. The tartan poles cover a large area and there is no specific spot where they are centred. The location of the brown sign has been chosen as most of the Maclean Talking Trail destinations are nearby the signs.
To get there:
From the Pacific Hwy, take the Yamba Rd exit for Maclean. Turn left (west along the Clarence River) and from the brown sign for Tourist Drive 22, follow Yamba Rd for 5km. Passing the pedestrian crossing at Woolitji House on the left, continue into the main shopping street in Maclean for another 130m, the Hollywood Theatre is on the left at the next crossing.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes