History of Scottish Country Dancing

 in Canberra

Over a period of more than 70 years Scottish Country Dancing has been happening in Canberra. It has been sponsored by various groups over that time. One group has existed throughout the period, some groups have come and gone, another has arrived more recently and is continuing. Nobody has attempted to chronical the development and history of our dancing in a comprehensive way.


Several people have written accounts of their experience and recollection of Scottish Country Dancing in Canberra. It is to be expected that there are differences between the accounts and no attempt has been made to edit the documents which recount personal perspectives mostly with a focus on the activities of a particular group.


This page collects these writings together in the interests of conserving them and making them available to everyone who has an interest in the development of dancing in Canberra.

The link to past clubs is Here 

"Roots" by Tom Middlemiss  1987

'Roots' is an account of the early history of Scottish Country Dancing in Canberra which appeared as a four part series in Scotch Circle in 1987-88.

 It is available via the link below.

View/download the above history   

 History of Scottish Country Dancing 1954 - 2004  by  Bob Clark  

The original “draft” by Bob Clark and John Wanless gives a vivid personal account of the  early history of the Scottish Country Dance Club of Canberra. Events during the more recent  decade have been much more routine, so the present edition reproduces the original, which was entitled “40  Years and Still Dancing”, together with a very brief  update. 

It is issued for the Club’s 50th Anniversary Ball,  held in the Albert Hall on 16th October 2004, the venue  where the Club celebrated its first Ball in 1958. The  revised date in the title merely reflects the Club’s  continuation for another 10 years of joyous Scottish  Country Dancing - and may the forthcoming decades be  equally enjoyable! Read here 

The Canberra Ball 2004 Report. Read here 

Selected Images of the early days of Scottish Country Dancing in Canberra Here 

Visit of Miss Jean C. Milligan to Canberra, Tuesday 15th October 1974

The visit of Miss Jean C. Milligan, co-founder of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society to Canberra in 1974,  inspired the formation of a Canberra and District Branch of the RSCDS. Read about her visit here 

History of the Black Mountain Reelers 

A history of the Black Mountain Reelers from it's inception in 1980 at the Australian National University as a fitness initiative to the enjoyable and inclusive Class on Tuesday lunchtime.  Read here 

History of  the Scottish Country Dance Club of Canberra c 1980 - Present 

A personal recollection currently being compiled by Bruce Clark.

History of the RSCDS Canberra and District Branch

The history of the RSCDS Canberra and District Branch is contained within the articles of Scotch Circle, the Newsletter of RSCDS Canberra and District Branch, first published in 1980  an extract of Scotch Circle - First Edition 

The digital record held by the Branch can be viewed in the Scotch Circle page  Scotch Circle 2002 - Present 

The complete archive of past Scotch Circles is held at the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

The Scottish Country Dancing in Canberra  Logo  

In 2007 Canberra hosted the Australian Scottish country dancing Winter School, which is held in different cities around Australia each year. The  Canberra event had a floral theme with promotional material suggesting you “Promenade in the Floral Set” with the names of orchid varieties found in Canberra, used as names for the various classes. From this backdrop, the Canberra Bluebell Logo was designed explicitly to represent all four of the Scottish country dancing groups in Canberra at the time. 

Brian Gunning photographed flowers of the Canberra Bluebell (Wahlenbergia), the ACT floral emblem, in the National Botanic Gardens. He recalls that "one image had a nicely curved flower stalk which gave the idea for the logo’s central Celtic triskelion pattern".

Then "multiplying and rotating the stylised green stalk and flower six times produced the logo, symbolising Canberra (and perhaps some of Burley Griffin's city plans!) and the interlocking paths of some Scottish dance formations".

Scottish Country Dance Club of Canberra -Canberra Times  22 April 1979

Club of the week featuring the Scottish Country Dance Club of Canberra

Article here