When I arrived in Australia from Scotland I was keen to find out more about the history of the Heavy Events in Australia. I was unable to find a suitable book so I decided to research it myself. As a result of all the research (and some encouragement from friends) I was able to produce a book on the subject.
This website was started to promote that book. However, I also wanted a place to blog about my on-going research in to the Heavy Events and share the stories that I found along the way.
Unfortunately, the Highland Games and the Heavy Events suffer from a lot of mythology and nonsense which is easily repeated on the internet.
If you care about the authentic history of the Scots, their ethnic sports and the athletes involved then you may enjoy what goes on here.
If you love Highland Games then you will love this book.
This is the definitive guide to the Heavy Events in Australia.
The true story of Heavy Events is told through the eyes of the athletes who took part in the Games. From its origins in 19th century Colonial Australia, right through to contemporary interviews with five times World Champion Matt Sandford.
A recent electronic-scanning process in Australia has granted access to many 18th/19th century newspapers that were previously unavailable to the public. This has allowed the author a unique insight in to the true history of the sport.
World famous athletes such as Donald Dinnie are covered in detail and many previously unknown facts are presented from his time in Australia. Long forgotten champions such as Eugene Kneebone and Paddy Roachock are also profiled.
The unmarked grave of Scottish Champion James Fleming, who died in Donald Dinnie's arms, has also been located.
Modern World Champions such as Joe Quigley, Aaron Neighbour and Matt Sandford are also covered.
It is a worthy addition to the canon of work on Highland Games and is uniquely detailed in its approach to the Heavy Events.
Thirty thousand words dedicated to the Heavy Events!
No filler. No fluff.
This book was written by a native born Scotsman who wanted to find out more about his beloved sport when he was in Australia.
Unable to find a suitable book covering the subject he undertook the task himself. In doing so he was able to document the origins of Heavy Events in Australia for the first time. It contains previously unavailable information about the athletes, the original equipment, the distances they threw, and the controversies and arguments that ensued.
This is a book for all readers (not just Australians) as the participants in the first Games were Scots who had recently migrated (voluntarily or by force) from Scotland. The development of Heavy Events in Australia IS the development of Heavy Events world wide.
Main chapter headings below
100 Years Of Caledonia
1840s - 1940s
Covers the arrival of the first Scots in Colonial Australia.
As a minority group in Australia, they faced fierce resistance from the established Anglo-Saxon culture.
The story of how they responded to this hostility is told in this chapter.
Early Caledonian Societies
Covers two early Caledonian Societies in detail to illustrate some key points about the Games in general.
Comunn Na Feinne (Geelong) was one of the first ever in Australia but collapsed during World War 2.
The Maryborough Highland Society is the second oldest continuously running society in the world (second only to Braemar in Scotland).
Early Heavy Events
An exciting and lengthy chapter covering
the first Heavy Events in Australia (and some of the earliest in the world).
-Putting of scale weights and canon balls.
-First Weight For Height records
Many, many details regarding the rules of throwing and equipment used to be found in this chapter
Packed with new, previously unavailable information covering
- His 3 assault charges
- Weightlifting competition v Prof. Miller
- Controversy at Adelaide Oval and near fist fight with Paddy Roachock and the accusations of cheating.
Fleming was the man who beat Dinnie in 1870 to interrupt his 20 year dominance of the Scottish Highland Games Championship.
He subsequently traveled to Australia and worked with Dinnie as an advance agent. Eventually he died in Dinnie's arms in Victoria.
He was buried in Melbourne but the location of his grave was long forgotten until the author located it after some investigation of the National Archives.
A profile of a long forgotten Australian champion.
-Fathered nineteen children
- Defeated Dinnie in his favourite events.
- Set shot put record that stood for almost 50 years
- Defeated Dinnie and Duncan Ross (USA) to set a new world record for the 56lb weight for distance event in 1891.
From Dinnie's perspective "probably the hardest man he encountered in Australia in field games was Eugene Kneebone"
An recent interview with the legendary Matt Sandford at his farm.
A collection of anecdotes and recollections of his time in Highland Games.
All of them amusing and all begin with 'allegedly'.
Tug o' War and Lazy Stick
Not considered Heavy Events in modern Games but were significant and noteworthy in early Highland Games in Australia.
Tug o' War could draw crowds of 25,000 in the late 18th century and titanic battles took place between individuals, international and travelling family teams.
Lazy stick was a traditional Scottish past time and currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity under the title MAS Wrestling.
However, 100 years ago Australian/Scots were contesting the same sport.
Australian Championships and Records
It is notoriously difficult to compile records and results from the Heavy Events. this is due to varying rules and equipment in use.
This chapter collates the most trustworthy of results and records from the early Heavy Events in Australia.
A must read for the statistically minded follower of the Heavy Events.
The memory of Donald Dinnie's feat of strength with the Dinnie Stanes is highly regarded in Australia and two competitions pay homage to that with stone walking events of their own.
The stone events at East Coast Highland Games and Amulet Highland Games are detailed here including best performances and records.
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