Och aye! The tartan to wear Down Under

House of Tartan’s Jennifer and Greg McAdam flanking federal MP Patrick Gorman with their new tartan to be named “Spirit of Australia”.

A MAD rush is afoot to get a locally designed tartan recognised by the Scottish Register of Tartans in time for January 25.

Inglewood’s Craig Hollywood has been nominated in the local hero category of the Australian of the Year awards for his charity Short Back & Sidewalks, which gives free haircuts to homeless people and helps them make connections (‘Fringe benefits’, Voice, November 6, 2021). 

Mr Hollywood, originally from Scotland, won the WA local hero award last year and recently walked into the House of Tartan on Walcott Street looking for a kilt to wear to the nationals on January 25. 

House of Tartan’s Jennifer and Greg McAdam had coincidentally been working on a design that’d be perfect for the occasion, and meeting Mr Hollywood prompted them to come up with the name “Spirit of Australia”.

Mr McAdam tells us the design process is “similar to someone writing a novel: Jennifer and I sit down with a blank piece of paper and a glass of red and come up with some themes we’d like to incorporate”.

In this tartan the blue represents oceans, there’s gold for our minerals, white for beaches, red for the soils, and the grey “is the much-needed rains that we require in Australia,” Mr McAdam says.

Local hero Craig Hollywood gives free haircuts and connections to homeless people.

But the Keeper of the Scottish Register of Tartans in Edinburgh follows a strict process before registering a design, with many pages of requirements to be followed before the board bestows recognition.

And featuring the word “Australia” requires extra “evidence of authority” to use the name.

“It used to be a matter of getting the chieftain of a clan to endorse it,” Mr McAdam says. “They’ve now made it more difficult by requesting federal endorsement because it has the name ‘Australia’ in it… and we needed a federal member to support it.”

Spirit of Australia

With time ticking they contacted federal Perth MP Patrick Gorman, who wrote an official letter of endorsement supporting the use of “Australia” in the name.

Mr Gorman says “as I believed this tartan, the ‘Spirit of Australia’, has the potential to strengthen already strong ties between Australia and Scotland, I was happy to support Greg and Jennifer’s request. 

“This is incredibly exciting for both Australia and for the Scottish community here in WA.”

The board is due to meet before January 25 and Mr McAdam says he’s “been assured by the staff at the registry that everything for the application is complete and it lookç like everything is appropriate to lodge to the board for signing”.


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