Having trouble reading this newsletter? Visit https://ymlp.com/archive_gesgjgm.php
Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackerel Beach

June 1, 2021

Newsletter for the Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia - Volume 22, Issue 1156

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of Pittwater, as well as our indigenous readers


What's So Scottish About Scotland Island?

Roy Baker

Neither the vegetation nor the climate of Scotland Island is reminiscent of Scotland. So why the name? A simple answer is that Andrew Thompson, the island’s first European owner, was Scottish. But is there more to it than that?

It is questionable whether the island's choice of name was just an act of patriotism. By the look of things, Thompson liked money. If he had merely wanted to honour his homeland then surely he would have selected his choicest piece of real estate for that purpose. But it’s hard to imagine that Scotland Island was economically significant to Thompson. In fact it constituted less than 5% of the 10 km2 of land owned by him at the time of his death. Most of the rest was quality arable and grazing land along the Hawkesbury River or in Minto, close to Campbelltown.

Green Hills
Thompson’s buildings and ships at Green Hills
(now Windsor), 1809

Thompson died a rich man. Forget any image of him as a simple islander who spent his time making salt and building boats in Catherine Park. This was a man with fingers in many pies: magistrate, farmer, hotelier, brewer, merchant and bridge toll-keeper. These were considerable achievements for a convict transported at 18 and dead by the age of 37.

Why should Scotland Island matter to Thompson? His main home was not here but at Windsor, where Governor Macquarie stayed while touring the area. Thompson built on Scotland Island, but there is little evidence that he spent much time here. After all, he wasn’t granted the island until a few months before his death.

The island wasn’t even Thompson's first choice as a site for his salt pans: they were originally on Dangar Island and presumably would have remained there but for stiff resistance from the indigenous population.

So what might this insignificant speck of an island signify to a money-driven entrepreneur? Behind this tale of wealth and success lies, perhaps, a sadder story: one involving remorse, heartbreak and rejection.

Thompson was born in 1773 and baptised in Yetholm, a village less than 3 km from the English border. By all accounts Thompson’s life started well: he was educated at the local school and seemed destined for a comfortable career in his father’s business or the public service.

Thompson's grave

Thompson’s grave (foreground) in Windsor

But something went wrong in Thompson’s teenage years. Already a slightly built boy, Thompson became ill. Around the same time he fell into bad company. Then, in August 1790, something propelled him to break into two houses, one of which belonged to his own brother. Thompson was caught, sentenced to transportation, and disowned by his family.

Thompson was raised among the Cheviot Hills, which straddle the Scottish border. Overshadowing his village is Staerough, a hill that rises to 331 metres. Viewed from Thompson’s home, Staerough has a distinctive shape, consisting of two mounds, one slightly higher than the other. Thompson grew up with Staerough, and the hill’s contours must have been indelibly printed on his memory.

We can only imagine what went through Thompson’s 17-year-old mind the last time he saw his childhood home and his family. And we don’t know the precise circumstances in which Thompson first caught sight of Scotland Island. But it is likely that he approached the island from the north. As any sailor on Pittwater knows, Scotland Island also has a distinctive shape, consisting of two mounds, one slightly higher than the other. Superimpose an image of Scotland Island onto one of Staerough and the similarity is uncanny.

Thompson died well-connected, yet he bequeathed half of his wealth to his relatives in Scotland. But his family’s rejection of their wayward son extended even beyond his death, and the bequest was refused. And so Thompson remains buried in Windsor, a world away from the lonely, wind-swept heather of Staerough.
Staerough Hill, viewed from Yetholm, the village of Andrew Thompson’s childhood

SI superimposed on Staerough
Scotland Island, superimposed onto Staerough Hill

Principal source: Pittwater Online News. Thanks to Bill Gye for the original idea.


Where Are They Now?

The Leimbach Brothers

Roy Baker

Louis and Oliver Leimbach
Louis and Oliver Leimbach of the Sydney indie pop group Lime Cordiale

Anyone living on Scotland Island in the 1990s might remember two cherubic boys with a penchant for music. And anyone who follows the Sydney indie pop scene will probably know that that musical proclivity never wore off. Late last year, Oliver and Louis Leimbach of the group Lime Cordiale won the Breakthrough Artist category at the ARIA Awards.

Leimbach brothers as kids  
Louis and Oli Leimbach around the time they lived on Scotland Island

The two boys, now aged around 30, grew up on the top of the island. Their mother, Karen, is also a well-known musician, directing three string orchestras on the northern beaches. Meanwhile Bill, their father, is better known for his involvement in the film industry.

Oli, the older boy, attended the island kindy, and is well remembered by Susanne Franki, who worked there at the time. Annette Ritchie's daughter, Sam, babysat both boys.

After leaving Scotland Island the brothers lived on the Bilgola Plateau and attended Pittwater High. Oli went on to study the clarinet at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, while Louis studied fine art at UNSW. They spent their teens playing pubs and house parties, receiving death threats from neighbours unhappy with band practices in their parents' garage.

But today Louis and Oli have a more appreciative audience. 1.4 million listen each month on Spotify, while their music enjoys global streams of over 100 million. Their album also hit number one on the ARIA chart. Success pays, and the brothers live in considerable opulence on Elanora Heights, although they have turned their helipad into a vegetable garden.

The boys remain connected with their former offshore home. A few years ago they recorded a video on a barge on Pittwater. Apparently the rental for the barge was a case of beer: 'you can get anything on Scotland Island with a carton of beer', says Louis.

Leimbach concert

Ecstatic fans at a Leimbach concert

The Leimbach brothers clearly have fond memories of offshore life. 'It's super beautiful', says Oli, describing their childhood selves as 'bush kids' who roamed free. 'We'd run out of the house in the morning and our parents wouldn't hear from us until the evening', they recall.

According to the brothers, Scotland Island in the 1990s was 'still quite artistic and bohemian'. But they don't seem quite so enamored with it 25 years later. 'It's a different place now, full of rich bastards', they say. 'But still lovely', they admit.

Thanks to Jane Rich for bringing this story to my attention.


The May Fire Shed Dinner

Fire shed dinner helpers
The fire shed dinner team: thanks go to everyone who helped to make the night a success

There was a certain post-lockdown frenzy to the fire shed dinner on Saturday night. It has been over a year since the last major celebration of island life. And it showed, with lots of eating, drinking, talking, laughter, dancing and very loud music.

Huge thanks go to everyone who contributed to the success of the evening. These dinners involve a great deal of work, and every effort deserves recognition. We have the shoppers, the cooks, the door staff, the servers, the bartenders, as well as those who helped set out and the clean up the shed. And, of course, there are the singers and musicians. All of this was ably coordinated by Annette Ritchie, the brigade's Social Secretary.

The good news is that we already have three groups vying to put on future dinners. We'll keep you posted.

Juliet Basil
Shane Natalie Bar
Peter Colin
Photographs kindly donated by Natalie Page of ONeill Photographics


Playgroup, Anyone?


After three decades of noise, fun and fundraising, the island children’s centre is sadly silent and deserted. While the preschool has closed, we could still have a playgroup for parents, grandparents and their little ones. It could be on one or more days a week, fortnight or month.

I have my four-year-old grandson on Mondays or Tuesdays and would be happy to coordinate a playgroup on either of those days. Someone else might be interested in doing another day. There are still a lot of parents and grandparents with young children: it would be fun to get together. And organising it can be simple: not a big deal.

If this sparks any interest, please email me at jennifercullen57@gmail.com.

Jenny Cullen


International Folk Dancing

Saturday, 12 June, 7:00 - 9:00 pm (NB change of date)

Saturday, 26 June, 7:00 - 9:00 pm

The first class (12 June) will be led by a guest teacher: Chris Wild, from the Sedenka Dance Group, Sydney. Chris has over 50 years' experience in teaching folk dancing internationally. Please be sure to arrive on time!

Folk dancing


Two Catherines Café

Sunday, 13 June, 10:00 am - 12:00 noon

Sunday, 27 June, 10:00 am - 12:00 noon



Sacred Cycles

Sunday, 20 June, 9:00am - 5:45pm

The Sacred Cycles workshop is for mothers and daughters, or for grandmothers and granddaughters, or for any pairing of an elder woman with a young maiden.

We spend the day journeying around the four weeks of the menstrual cycle through the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. We explore each season through creative and nature-based processes. Through journeying around the four seasons we experience the life/death nature of the menstrual cycle. We have the power each month to birth something new into our lives and also to let something go/shred something that is no longer of service to us. This is what makes the monthly journey around the menstrual cycle sacred, it supports us to grow and transform.

We explore the challenges and gifts of each season and what we may experience in each one, getting to know what we need to give ourselves if we slow down and listen deeply.

Sacred Cycles


Scotland Island Rural Fire Brigade AGM

Sunday, 27 June, 2:00 - 3:30 pm


Place: Scotland Island fire station (near Catherine Park)

All members are encouraged to attend. For further information, and to register your attendance, please click here.


Young (and Young at Heart) Musicians' Concert

Sunday, 4 July, 2:00 - 4:00 pm

This is the perfect opportunity to display your musical abilities in a friendly, supportive environment. Youngsters are especially welcome, but there is no upper age limit.

Alternatively, come and watch your neighbours, and the children of your neighbours, show what they can do. A gold coin donation will be appreciated.

If you would like to take part, please email Robyn Iredale on rriredale@gmail.com.
Markus Plattner

Advance notice:

Markus Plattner Concert

Sunday 18 July, 2:00 - 4:00 pm

An afternoon of jazz, blues and swing.
Featuring Scotland Island singer Jessica McGowan


Sydney Craft Week Festival 2021

Friday 8 - Sunday 17 October

Sydney Craft Week

Sydney Craft Week is an established festival on the Sydney event calendar. The fifth annual festival will run from 8 - 17 October 2021.

Australian Design Centre is calling for entries from makers, galleries, shops, guilds, libraries, councils and other organisations for exhibitions, workshops and events during and around the festival period.

Sydney Craft Week is about celebrating creativity and the handmade in all its forms. This festival showcases excellence in making and creates the opportunity for the whole community to engage with craft, experience the benefits of making, and purchase locally handmade work.

Application deadline: 25 June 2021
For details see the Sydney Craft Week webpage.

Missed out on a previous newsletter?

Past newsletters, beginning May 2000, can be found and read at https://ymlp.com/archive_gesgjgm.php or at Mona Vale Library.

To Contribute

If you would like to contribute to this newsletter, please send an e-mail to the editor (editor@scotlandisland.org.au).

Subscription Information

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to: http://www.scotlandisland.org.au/signup.

Follow the PON

Follow PON_editor on Twitter FB PON logo

The Online Local Contacts Guide

Click HERE to load

The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Scotland Island Residents Association (SIRA), or the Western Pittwater Community Association (WPCA)
Original Newsletter Design:Paul Purvis & Julian Muir