An email arrived late last year asking for our Clan Society to participate in the inaugural Hayland Gathering at Hay NSW on the 11 March 2023.

Note their clever use of Hayland instead of Highland.

Well, Hay is long way from anywhere, but we decided that we would support the Hayland Gathering organising committee and attend with the Clan Tent. Hay is a town in the western Riverina region of south western New South Wales, Australia. It has an elevation of only 93m above sea level and was founded in 1859 with a current population of about 2,500 people.

Located approximately midway between Sydney and Adelaide at the junction of the Sturt, Cobb and Mid-Western Highways, Hay is an important regional and national transport node. The town itself is built beside the Murrumbidgee River. Hay is one of Australia’s leading wool growing and sheep meat producing areas. Cattle are also produced for sale for slaughter and, in recent years, for sale to feedlots for fattening. In irrigated areas, crops such as lettuce, pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic, corn, rockmelons, watermelons and broccoli are grown, picked and packaged in the area. Hay is also the leading producer in the Riverina of safflower, lettuce and broccoli. Googled information.

Fast forward to Friday 10 March 2023, the day came for us to head off on the 6.5 hour drive from Bathurst to Hay. We packed the tent, the information and our woollen kilts and ‘hit the road’. The drive was long, but uneventful and we arrived in Hay about 3pm on Friday 10/3/23. We first went to the Hay Oval to erect the tent. Stepping out of our airconditioned car into the 30+ degree heat at Hay was a shock. Anyway, we found our site. It backed up to a low fence which had the petting zoo on the other side. After setting up our tent, we went and checked into our accommodation.

With time to spare, Colin and I walked down the main street of Hay looking at the shop window displays entered in the Hayland Gathering Shop Window Display Competition. Low and behold, we found a piece of MacRae tartan and a short story about MacRae’s in the butcher’s shop window!

In we went and introduced ourselves to Garry McRae proprietor of the butcher’s shop. Upon leaving we noticed a plaque on the outside front wall of the butcher’s shop giving the history of ownership of the butcher’s shop. See Plaque & transcription at end of article.

Bright and early the next day, we went back to the Oval and finished setting up the Tent and Colin headed off with our Clan banner to take part in the March from the Tourist office to the Oval. We shared the Clans section of the Oval with the Clan tents of Young, Donald, Henderson and McLennan. These Clan folk are all based in Melbourne as it’s closer to Hay than Sydney is! Just a small number of Clan tents, but the numbers should grow in the years to come.

The Gathering was the setting for the Riverina Highland Dancing Titles with lots of young folk strutting their stuff on the stage. Three Highland Pipe Bands were in attendance and provided a musical accompaniment to the day. The Highland Muscle Heavy Events were eagerly contested throughout the day. 30+ degree summer heat, a westerly wind and woollen kilts meant that the Girl Guides bottled water stall was well patronized!

At the end of a full day, we packed our tent, went back to the accommodation for a night then we hit the road again for the 6.5 hour drive home. It was good to see another part of our State and to get the MacRae name out there.

Colin and Roslyn MacRae

Plaque outside Hay Butchers Shop

Mackers Meats and its adjoining premises are a pair of buildings which have had a long history in Hay. For well over a century, there has been a butchers shop in this site. The first butcher here was William Churche who had a double fronted brick shop built in 1876. This was operated in turn by A. Donohoe, W.J. Burcher, W. J. Ashcroft, George R. Horton, William and Robinson and H.S (Stewart) Carter.

In 1927 the owner, W.R. Donohoe had a new brick shop built on the site of the former skin shop next door, using some of the materials from the demolished structure. At the same time, the old butchery was renovated, and the pressed metal façade erected in front of both shops. The butchery business was continued, and the new shop was let. Jim Donohoe, then Creswell and Ashcroft, were butchers there in the 1930s. The firm of E.F. Ashcroft and Sons had the contract for supplying all the meat for the POW and internment camps at Hay during WWII, an enormous undertaking.

After the Ashcrofts, Ron Laracy was the next to have the butchery. Proprietorship passed to Paul McRae in 1979, to George Long in 1983 and to Sandra and Garry McRae (Mackers Meats Pty Ltd) in 1990.