Magic Maclean

20150830_054545 (2)There’s magic in the gorgeous riverside town of Maclean in northern New South Wales. It’s the Scottish town in Australia. Two hundred telephone poles painted in tartan. Annual highland gathering. Populated by descendants of the highland clearances. The first letters of the three pubs enchantingly spell M-A-C.

The place is a living museum. Its grocery store built in 1883 is the oldest in Australia. The Bank of New South Wales across the road is even older. The local sugar mill founded in 1874 is the oldest in production in the country. Cane fires still beat the sun my first morning here.

The middle pub is the Argyle Hotel last built in 1894. Its Cane Cutters Bar is so named for the cutters straight from the fields. Asleep on the floor. Up and cutting again before dawn.

Today they’re history. Cane knives bent for left and right handers, the optimum angle dependant on your height and amount of rough on the crop. Last century’s flame thrower. Twenty foot sugarcane barge pole. Ledgers with cutters’ daily count. The 140 year old vault-grade front door with its colossal lock.

Lively licensee Tanaya has innovative plans. She grew up here and cares for its charm. Please use the juke box. Like the Puddin’ it’s magic. The more music I play, the more credits remain. We end with Willie’s “Always On My Mind” as indeed Magic Maclean will be.

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