The History of the Clan MacRae Society in Australia and New Zealand
Content by: Ian McRae – 15 February 2007
On 26th March 1988 a group of twenty-one clan members met at the Pitt Club in Sydney and formed The Clan MacRae Society of Australia. Since the first A.G.M. held 15″‘ February 1989, the Society has met continuously at our present meeting venue, The Combined Services RSL Club in Barrack Street, in Sydney CBD apart from two visits to other venues, Armidale and Ballarat.
Our first president was William Ray. In 1989 Mrs June Christian was elected president, which position she held till 1995, when Kenneth MacRae was elected. In 1996 June Christian held the position again. In 1997 our current president Ian McCrae was elected to the position, which he has since held.
Kenneth MacRae was Vice-President 1988-1994 and 1996-2003, giving great support to the Society.
Mrs Christian and her husband Roy held annual BBQ/picnics at their Canyonleigh property “Maranoa” for several years. They were wonderful occasions which brought clans folk from far and wide. In Brisbane’s northern outskirts at Narangba, Flora Willmott had a highly successful Gathering in 1994, attended by members from as far away as New Zealand and many from interstate. She held two more successful gatherings, at Kallangur in 1998 and Narangba in 2002. When ill health prevented June and Roy Christian from holding their annual picnic we held picnics at Sydney venues for several years. BBQ lunches were held at Ian and Joan McCrae’s Seven Hills home on a few occasions.
Many New Zealanders were becoming members and New Zealand appeared in the Society’s title in 1991. Mrs Eileen McMillan became our first “representative” there. Following her resignation, Mrs Molly Akers accepted the position until 1996 when Mrs Sue Tregoweth became NZ representative. In 2006 Ian Rae of Dunedin accepted the position of representative for NZ’ s South Island to assist Sue. In 1996 we held a very successful quarterly meeting and dinner in Armidale (NSW) and the following year a meeting and dinner were held at Ballarat which attracted Clan members from all the mainland states. Since 1997 when Sue Tregoweth held a Gathering at Te Kuiti, New Zealand Gatherings have been held at Gore, Dunedin (2), at Palmerston North and Nelson.
In Australia, Gatherings have been held in Armidale (3), Orange, Sydney and Muswellbrook in NSW, Ballarat (2), Bendigo and “Glenwillan” B&B, a McRae property at Dimboola in Victoria and at Hobart and Bothwell in Tasmania.
We have been privileged to welcome Mrs Marigold MacRae to Clan gatherings in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2006. Accompanied by either daughter Miranda or grandson Tristan, she has attended gatherings in Armidale, Sydney (both at the Wahroonga home of Bruce McRae a former Vice – President and an active member since 1988) , Bendigo and Muswellbrook in Australia and also Gore and Dunedin gatherings in New Zealand. The journey from U.K. is very tiring and we are most appreciative of the support given to MacRaes “down under” by Mrs MacRae and her family.
In 1996, the purchase of a Clan tent was approved. During the past ten years we have had our tent, or the substitute canopy, at Bundanoon and Drummoyne /Castle Hill Gatherings with one or two exceptions at Aberdeen Highland Gathering every year since the inaugural gathering in 2000 and at Toukley except in 2000 when we were in Scotland. The tent has proved very successful as a meeting point for Clan members. Sue Tregoweth and supportive members take the Clan tent to the many Gatherings in New Zealand, though it is sometimes a challenge in the windy conditions which prevail at some venues. I have photos of Sue still smiling surrounded by a very tangled tent! Australian and New Zealand Clan members were well represented at both the 2000 Millennium Gathering and the 2005 Clan Gathering in Scotland.