Robert Burns Scottish Festival

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Robert Burns Scottish Festival

After five successful years running, the Robert Burns Scottish Festival is making its way back to Camperdown to mark the sixth year of Scottish filled festivities. I spoke to Corangamite councillor Ruth Gstrein who is just one of the busy people working behind the scenes to put this   year’s celebration on and who gave a great insight into what to expect over the weekend.
The festival actually originated from quite a local upset, as Ruth explains. “It came about because in our Camperdown botanical gardens we have a statue of Robert Burns – who was a famous Scottish poet. This statue got vandalised years ago, and we had actually discovered that it was the oldest Robert Burns statue in the world. So the statue came out of the garden and went into safekeeping. It was going to cost a lot of money so a few of the local guys got together and put on a fundraiser concert, and they did it again the following year and again it was successful. So the year after that we started the festival.”

Talk about finding the good in a bad situation, but thankfully, it has been all-uphill since then.

“It’s a small festival, but it is definitely growing in reputation,” Ruth says, with this year looking to be the biggest yet. The excitement is already buzzing.

“We call it a celebration of all things Scottish – a community festival. With a local community committee that works alongside the Corangamite shire. It’s a combination of a lot of things. This year we have Eric Bogle who is a well-known folk musician. We have artists from all over Australia. We have dancing, golf, whiskey tasting and talks on Burns, and a discussion about that. This year we are also having a shortbread completion, which is just another little facet of Scotland,” she says.

This year’s line-up also delivers the absolute best of Scottish music in Australia, featuring the likes of the aforementioned folk legend Eric Bogle, Danny Spooner, Scottish Opera singer Vivien Hamilton and many others. It’ll be a jam packed weekend, with the event spreading across the local town.

“We use different venues, and a lot of historic venues around Camperdown; the courthouse, two of the pubs have live music, there are lots of Scottish themed activities, and we have a lot of activities for children,” Ruth expresses.

“We also have the president of the World (Robert) Burns Federation, from Scotland, coming down to attend – which is a real treat. We couldn’t have the president down last year so it’s great to have them back,” Ruth eagerly states.

With there also being multiple accommodation options for people making the trip to Camperdown (including three motels and a caravan park) this year’s event is looking to bring in quite a crowd.

“We have over 50 artists playing. You [can] sit there and listen to the music and you just can’t keep still – you have to get up and dance! It’s a really good weekend. There’s something for everyone of all ages, so I really encourage people to take advantage of it!”

Written by Alex Callan

The Robert Burns Festival is being held from May 20-22  in Camperdown. More information is available on the festival’s website (

When & Where: Camperdown – May 20-22