Were you working for OCL in the early 1970s?

Post date: Oct 26, 2014 2:37:8 PM

If so, do you remember the special shipment of two Scottish Highland Games' cabers from the UK to Australia which was mentioned at the time in the OCL magazine?

We've had contact from James Grahame, a Scottish Highland Games enthusiast. James, who was born in Edinburgh but now lives in Australia, is researching the shipment of several cabers from the UK 'Down Under' for a book which he is just completing and which he hopes to have self-published soon.

The first caber on James' list is one transported to Australia in 1965 on the MV Tenbury. This shipment is mentioned in a book by David Webster (OBE) titled "Scottish Highland Games" which describes how four kilted athletes boarded the Tenbury at the docks in Sydney only to find the caber (a telegraph pole-size wooden log) was missing. It was eventually found in one of the holds being used as a roller to move some crates by a team of dockers!

The shipment that James has approached us about is a later one, made in 1971. It appears that the original caber was showing its age and in 1970 a Heavy Games judge from New South Wales called Matt Davitt approached the Braemar Committee (which organises the Braemar Gathering, the major Highland Games event held each year in Scotland) to request help with sourcing a replacement. The Committee agreed as long as all transport costs were met at the Australian end.

Billy Binks, a famous 'Heavy' competitor in Australia undertook to organise the shipping arrangements. Billy contacted OCL in Melbourne and he was put in touch with Geoff MacDonald, then OCL's National Marketing Manager for Australia who had strong Scottish links.

Two Braemar cabers were selected, cut and prepared by Scottish 'Heavy' Henry Gray and shipped in a 40 foot container (as LCL?). On arrival at Melbourne's Swanson Dock they were met by representatives from the Australian Scottish Highland Games fraternity and OCL.

James understands that the shipment was covered by an article in the OCL house magazine and is hoping that someone might still have a copy of that edition from 40+ years ago. We are sure though that he would appreciate any information that anyone may have, so if you were around at the time and remember the event then James would really appreciate hearing from you.

James can be contacted by email (james_grahame@hotmail.com) or via his Australian Heavy Events Facebook page. If you do have something for James then we'd love to hear about it also, so please drop us a line too (ponlheritage@gmail.com).