A stone circle amidst the highlands of Glen Innes - probably not something you would associate with subtropical Australia.
An Outlandish Gathering
In the pre-dawn light, 600 guests were greeted by lantern-carrying lasses in 18th century gowns. They were led to their places at the base of the huge granite monoliths that make up the Australian Standing Stones array.
Suddenly the site was plunged into darkness. The murmurs from the audience stilled as an unseen voice spoke the poem 'On Being Pictish'. Then, from out of the darkness came the lantern dancers, recreating the well-known scene from the Outlander series - the Dance of the Druids.
Right on cue, at the end of the dance, the rising sun kissed the rim of the escarpment and the lone piper began to play. As the sun began to gild the grey stones with gold, award-winning soprano Ella Roberts appeared, singing the Outlander theme, 'The Skye Boat Song'.
We had been transported back in time to our version of Craigh na Dun at the centre of the Outlander story. "Heart stopping!" was the main comment from the guests that morning.
Outlandish 2018 was a two day event celebrating the television series with fans from around the world.
It brought Australian and International visitors to the Glen Innes Highlands. Travellers came from every state in Australia, from New Zealand, USA, Germany and Scotland. We even had one visitor from Afghanistan!
The whole community became wholeheartedly involved in the event. Local retail and food outlets dressed their staff in costume, transporting Glen Innes back in time to the Highlands of Scotland 1743. On Friday there was an 18th century Push-Cart Market in the Town Square. Local restaurants also ran themed dinners with entertainment on Friday evening. Cafes and restaurants reinvented themselves with names associated with the Outlander series.
During the day, there were activities that ranged from a display of traditional martial arts of the period, presented by Brisbane-based group An-T’Arm Mhontrois, to games and Outlander-based competitions, as well as the Red Coats 'arresting' people (all in jest of course!).
Later in the day, fans became the guests at a re-enactment wedding based on Jamie and Claire’s wedding scene. The selection of the happy couple was made from entrants in a wedding competition which was held earlier in 2018 and the pair were legally wed Outlander-style on the day.
The evening event on Day 1 was a feast at Glen Innes Services Club, which had been transformed for the evening into Castle Leoch. With a jaw-dropping replica of Castle Leoch’s great hall fireplace and the soft dim light of the candelabra, the dining room was a sight to behold.
On Day 2, fans were treated to a Question and Answer session with special guest David Berry - Lord John Grey from Outlander. Fans were able to pose for photos with David and to have their posters signed by him. The fans were delighted to be able to spend time with a real, live star from the Series.
The Australian Standing Stones and Glen Innes are now firmly 'on the map' for Outlander fans. Our lovely, welcoming small town has happily embraced the opportunity to give the fans a unique experience and a real taste of the Highlands in Australia. Outlander fans have since returned many times to dance around the Standing Stones at dawn.
About our guest authors Julie Clement and Barbara McLennan:
Julie Clement is the Outlandish Event Manger and was the one who motivated the team to get 'Outlandish' off the ground, as Glen Innes is the home of the Australian Standing Stones. It was just screaming to be done!
Barbara McLennan is the managing editor of Celtic News, an E-newsletter created by the Glen Innes Services Club. Barbara produces Celtic News each month for our on-line Celtic community and works closely with Julie on all big events as a volunteer administrator and media officer.