May 31, 2010

Australia Highlanders cancel 2010 World’s plans

The Grade 1 Australia Highlanders won’t be competing at this year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. The band has  decided to pull the plug on travel plans to return to the World’s, citing financial challenges as the reason.

“It is a huge task that we embark on each year,” said the band’s Pipe-Major, Danny Boyle. “Collectively it costs the band around $150,000 per year to attend and it has been a tremendous effort to get the band over there in the last five years.”

Boyle said that in the past the band has depended on local council grants and independent sponsorship support – as well as members paying from their own pockets – to raise enough funds to make the journey. But this year, as in 2009, the band has missed out on grant funding.

He added that airfare to Scotland has skyrocketed this year, each flight prices at more than $2,800. Boyle said that, as a result, the band would have been able to attend without key personnel, thus not able to compete at full-strength. Australia’s economy has been hit hard by the recent global financial crisis and the ash plume from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano has compounded problems for the air travel industry.

“This is disappointing, especially seeing the improvement and form the band is currently in,” Boyle said. “But we are a very determined group. We will continue the momentum and return to Glasgow in 2011.”

The Australia Highlanders qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the 2009 World Pipe Band Championships, and then finished fourteenth overall in the 14-band Final competition


  1. Bad luck. UK bands can never relate to this sort of problem. It’s a trememdous sacrifice. As an aside, I’d really like to know what the scribe of this article has used as a credible reference to then go on and write that the economy of Australia has been hit hard” by the GFC. Economists will tell you Australia dodged a bullet and has remained pretty much unharmed

  2. This is sad news indeed, not just for the band itself, but for the Grade 1 scene in Australia. There are only a handful of G1 bands in Australia, and of those, only really two of them that are serious entities. WAPOL is all but defunct as a competitive outfit, City of Blacktown is (according to some) on the verge of being downgraded, Queensland Highlanders are a small band just marking time, leaving The Pipeband Club and Australia Highlanders to fly the aussie flag aroung the world. So, with Australia Highlanders announcing this news, one has to wonder what is happening to the upper echelon of piping and drumming in the land down under.

  3. I would just like to say that it’s very sad Australia Highlanders won’t be making the worlds! The pipers at the Aussie nationals sounded great and I feel they would of done well this year in Glasgow. I think the PBC will still fly the flag high for Australia and good luck to them. As for Wapol, I know a few of the players and know they are building to get back out competing and should be competitive within Oz next year. I think people need to realise how hard these bands have to work to get the funds for travel. I take my hat off to all overseas bands that make the long trip to Glasgow.

  4. …it’s not THAT bad. The standard in Australia is very good. Aussie Highlanders are still a very decent grade 1 band…. they just wont be at the worlds. Next year, they will be back and will probably be even better. So they have to go every second year, that’s not uncommon. Manawatu do that, primarily for financial reasons, and are skipping this year. A&D (Auckland and District) go to the worlds once every 15 years, so skipping one worlds is nothing in comparison!

  5. What a shame- that will be a big ‘miss’ on the day, but given those costs, it’s a wonder the band can come even once in its lifetime, never mind every year!

  6. To be honest, it’s a wonder that any bands outside of Scotland and the greater UK can afford to travel to the WPBC. With the relatively recent increase in the size of bands (take S&D @ 52+ members setting the new size standard for example + the mid rift expansion to 10+ members?, etc) and the inflation rate applied to flight costs. food, accomodation, uniforms, elephant transportation, and super high priced uber drums, it’s a wonder that anyone can make the leap over the pond! The old price tag of $50K is becoming a distant memory….

  7. I would have thought that this year would have been a great year to travel overseas from Australia, given that Australia’s economy is one of – if not the the only economy in the world NOT to enter recession from the GFC and is actually booming. Granted flight prices have increased 2 – 5 % however the Australian currency has gained almost 15 – 20% against the British Pound, so its the cheapest year on record to attend Scotland. As suggested before the additional numbers may have a bearing.

  8. To give you a thought on price of travel from another location, the City of Dunedin Pipe Band from Florida has to spend more than that dreamy 50k to take the bands over, but at the same time we do lots of playing and plenty of fundraising. Also to add to this, our members take on very little of the cost to attend. A modest amout is required for each member (not disclosing), and the band foots the rest to help get the players over and in a way reward them for their years effort. The gr. 3 band travels on average every 2 years, and takes both bands (3&4) every 3-4 years. You canot do enough fundraising and to achieve this you have to raise money every year like you are going over seas, even when you have no intention. Hope to see them back next summer.



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