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Highland Fling

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Sydneysiders: dig out a tartan, iron your favourite kilt and annoy your workmates with bad Sean Connery accents. Because on July the 26th, the stately Elizabeth Bay House will be celebrating the heritage of its founders, the Macleays, "with a traditional Scottish program of live music, dancing, games, poetry, storytelling and homely Scottish fare."

The magnificent folly that is Elizabeth Bay House was the brainchild of the Colonial Secretary, Alexander Macleay. It was in 1826 that development of "the finest house in the colony" began, but thanks to the Scotsman's extravagant plans, his resources were unable to keep pace with his ambitions, with the result that the project was never completed and he was forced to abandon his half-finished home.

Macleay's loss, though, was very much Sydney's gain. Today, this mansion, which boasts splendid harbour views and the most extraordinary staircase, is one of the city's great pieces of colonial history- as these photos prove.

The inside
The outside
Staircase and domed roof
Harbour views
Period decorations

Appropriately, the flavour of Elizabeth Bay House's Highland Fling will be Scottish. Activities will be occurring in three locations: the house, the garden and the cellars. Proceedings inside the house will begin at 10am with a performance by the NSW Police Pipe Band, who will be followed by the Argyll Highland Dancers, a talk from the curator, the Art of the Scottish Fiddle and the Epping Scottish Country Dancers. The Great Tartan Debate will usher in the afternoon, which will also feature Burns' Address to the Haggis and the Southerly Gaels acoustic singers, before being rounded out by the lone piper at 3.45pm.

Games and dance lessons (provided by Scots on the Rocks) will take place in the garden from 10.30am. The cellars will open at the same time, for a series of talks and whisky tasting. Throughout the day there will be a display of genealogical research materials and clan banners. And if, like Alexander Macleay, you feel the urge to spend some money, the Scottish Accessories Shoppe, Eumundi Smokehouse, Natural Pancake Company, British Lolly Shop and Art of Espresso will be happy to let you.

All true Scotsmen will be delighted to learn that admission will be reasonably priced: $10 for adults, $5 for concession/members and $25 for families.

To plan your visit, click here.
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Why? If Mel Gibson can be Scottish, so can we
When: July the 26th, 2009; 10am to 4pm
Where: Elizabeth Bay House
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for concession/members, $25 for families
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