The Year Of Scotland in Australia (YOSA) launch took place in the northern foyer of the opera house, the harbour providing a beautiful but bush fire hazy panorama .

After being serenaded by piper Tom Morris the various speakers enthusiastically outlined just three months worth of events in what will be a year long celebration. In a way the Year began a few weeks earlier with Sydney hosting the largest ever staging of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the Olympic Stadium.

Produced and  curated by Showcase Scotland Expo and  Woodfordia Inc in partnership with Australia’s festivals and event organisers, YOSA is backed by Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, the Scottish Government  and Glenturret whisky.

Introducing the speakers Chloe Goodyear could barely contain her enthusiasm for what riches next year would hold.

Amanda Jackes of Woodfordia Inc announced that between January and March 2020 over 150 period performances by Scotland’s finest traditional Gaelic and Celtic musicians at over 70 Australian festivals and venues in more than 60 towns and cities nation wide.

As this was the initial launch many more events will be taking place throughout the year, some likely to be held by the more than 119,000 Australian residents born in Scotland, with over 2,000,000 claiming Scottish ancestry.

Rhoda Roberts, Indigenous Curator at the Opera House, outlined First Nation .contributions to the year. She stated she was a Bundjalung woman from the far north coast of New South Wales. The largest town in the area is Maclean  whose pioneers named it in winter because it reminded them of Scotland. Then the summer came and all resemblances disappeared but it still maintained its Scottish roots.

All the indigenous people in the area were called Robertson. Rhoda Roberts said her family were not the sons of Robert and hence her family name minus the suffix ‘son’.

Guest of honour was Creative Scotland’s Head Of Music Alan Morrison, complete with his clan’s kilt who outlined some of the outstanding Scottish musicians who are coming to Australia. He noted that in Perth, Scotland there was a bridge which was a miniature version of our Sydney Harbour Bridge. Morrison walked on the bridge and noted the two-way congested traffic and Sydney’s icon the Sydney Opera House. Hi hope for the coming year and yers to come would build bridges of cultural and touristic traffic going both ways between Scotland an d Australia.

Highlights of the first three months include Hogmanay celebrations at the Woodford Folk Festival, a Gelnturret/Burns Supper held on the 25th January  2020 at the Sydney Opera House with the Scottish band Breabach who will perform alongside indigenous  Australian performer Eric Avery.’

In April and May renowned performers Caper Caillie will undertake a 27 day tour which will take place in Australian towns which have Scottish antecedents including Campbelltown in New South Wales,New Beith in Queensland, snd Bannockburn in Victoria.

Woodfordia Inc is partnering with the National Trust as well as with private and council owned properties to tour Scottish grand houses and towns throughout Australia.

Over 36 community groups are running multiple events and over 200 are presenting Scottish themed concerts.

At the launch we were given a sample of lovely Scottish traditional music in the form of singer Fiona Ross and the duo the Jelly Man’s Daughter.

For more details go to and on social media use @YOSA2020 and #YOSA2020.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum