Scotland Australia Cairn
Here Frai A’The Airts, Stane Upon Stane Haud The Gither Thru Wind And Rain Minders O’Scotland That Aince Was Hame – the words engraved on the plaque at the Cairn.
The Scotland Australia Cairn was built in 1988 to celebrate the landing of Captain Arthur Phillip in Australia in 1788. The Scottish Australian Bicentennial Committee conceived the idea of a memorial cairn with a stone from every Parish in Scotland. The Cairn stands majestically atop the highest point at Rawson Park, overlooking a vista of Sydney’s unique harbour.
In the Highlands of Scotland, cairns have always been built to commemorate great events or tragedies which happened there, or as a memorial to someone connected with the area. The cairn in Mosman is a fine example built by Duncan Matheson from Wester Ross, a distinguished craftsman and Gaelic tradition bearer.
There are 1,750 stones in all, collected by Sunday school children, and Ministers, one of whom climbed to the top of the Cairngorms. Some stones are engraved with their origins. Most are richly coloured, reflecting the geological tapestry of Scotland.
Embedded in the top of the Cairn lies a stone originating from the hillside of Ulva, birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie, fifth governor of Australia. The stone is engraved with a Celtic cross and Macquarie’s personal motto: An t’Arm breac dearg – the red tartan-ed army.
Links between Scotland and Mosman began as early as 1789, when the flagship of Australia’s First Fleet HMS Sirius spent five months being repaired in what is now known as Mosman Bay. In the absence of Captain Arthur Phillip, and for many of her major voyages, Captain John Hunter commanded the HMS Sirius. Captain Hunter was born near Edinburgh, and is likely to have been one of the first Europeans, and perhaps the first Scot to step ashore on Mosman’s soil. More than 40 years later, the first major industry came to Mosman in the form of whaling, established by an enterprising Scot, Archibald Mosman after whom the suburb is named.
Nearby the Cairn, stands an enormous Celtic cross, erected over the grave of a brave young aviator, Keith Anderson, who lost his life whilst searching in the Australian desert for his missing colleague and friend, Charles Kingsford Smith.
A time capsule was buried deeply under the sandstone foundations of the Cairn on St. Andrew’s Day, 30 November 1989. It contains Australian and Scottish memorabilia which will convey visual and written pictures of Scotland and Australia in 1988.
The Scotland Australia Cairn shall remain as a permanent testimony to the goodwill shared between the peoples of Australia and Scotland.
Vale Duncan Matheson
The builder of the Cairn, Duncan Matheson, passed away on 30 October 2010. A Service of Remembrance was held at the Cairn.