Historical society launches Scotland to Australia Felix to honour Camperdown history

Heritage: Camperdown and District Historical Society's Maree Belyea and Bob Lambell with the book on the region's Scottish heritage that will be launched as part of the Robert Burns Scottish Festival on Saturday.
Heritage: Camperdown and District Historical Society's Maree Belyea and Bob Lambell with the book on the region's Scottish heritage that will be launched as part of the Robert Burns Scottish Festival on Saturday.

A mammoth history project more than five years in the making has uncovered just how much Scottish settlers shaped modern-day Camperdown.

The town’s historical society has compiled the book, Scotland to Australia Felix, and even the experienced research team were surprised at the stories they uncovered.

President Bob Lambell said research began before 2012, and three booklets were published until they took the plunge and wrote the book.

“What really struck us during that process was just how dominant the Scots were in the founding of the district and their lasting legacy as well,” he said. 

“They were the movers and shakers, the leading pastoralists, the doctors, they founded the Presbyterian church, they founded the schools they founded the roads boards, they were councillors, magistrates, store keepers.” 

Mr Lambell said it was Major Thomas Mitchell’s exploration of the Western District in 1836 that encouraged many more Scots to follow in his footsteps.

“He was so impressed with it that he called the Western District Australia Felix, Felix in Latin is the word for pleasant or good,” he said.

“Between 1839 and 1842, basically the whole of the Western District was settled, mostly by Scots.” 

The book documents the lives of 38 pioneering men and women and will be launched at this weekend’s  Robert Burns Scottish Festival, where Camperdown will celebrate its heritage.

The launch will be held at 3.30pm Saturday at Camperdown’s Killara Centre. An exhibition of the founding Scots of the Camperdown district will also be held at the town’s heritage centre.

For a full festival program visit www.camperdownburnsfestival.com.au

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