City of Whitehorse Pipe Band

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City of Whitehorse Pipe Band
Glasgow2008 georgesquare australiahighlanders.jpg
Established 1956
Location Melbourne, Australia
Grade 1
Pipe major George Shepherd
Drum sergeant Olav Goud
Tartan Custom Tartan
Notable honours

Winner, Australian and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships: 2006;

Finalist - World Pipe Band Championships: 2006, 2007 & 2009
Website [1]

The City of Whitehorse (CoWPB) is a grade one pipe band, based in Nunawading, Victoria, Australia.[1] The band's previous incarnations had been successful on the Australian Pipe Band competition circuit for numerous years, and was placed 11th in the final tables of the World Pipe Band Championships in 2006. The band reformed in 2014 and was led by Pipe Major George Shepherd and Drum Sergeant Olav Goud. The band ceased operations in 2016 following the decision of Pipe Bands Australia to terminate the band's membership following a protracted period of behaviour deemed unacceptable by the association [2][3]


The City of Nunawading Pipe Band, as it was first known, was formed in 1956.[4] In the late 1970s, and early 1980s, the Pipe Major was Brian Symington, the Drum Major was Robert Counsins (followed by D/M Geoff Bellis), and the leading drummer was Bill Russell.[5][6] Three decades of local competition saw the band venture to New Zealand in 1989, where they won the national championships in Grade 2. Under a year later, Nunawading also secured first place in Grade 2 of the Australian and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships (held in Brisbane, Queensland) which earned their promotion to Grade 1. After several years competing in this grade, the City of Nunawading Pipe Band took another overseas trip, this time to the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. In the home of the Great Highland Bagpipe, the Australian contenders placed 18th. While this was a commendable effort, the band went into decline for much of the remaining decade, until its resurgence in 2001 under the leadership of Danny and Alistair Boyle, pipe major and drum major, respectively.[7] After this changeover, Nunawading climbed from Grade 3 to Grade 1 in the space of a single competition season. To fill the void left by the upgrading, and in order to make space for an influx of new members, a second band was created. Nunawading again travelled to New Zealand in 2003, and placed 2nd in Grade 1. The band subsequently attained 19th placing competing in Grade 1 in the 2005 world pipe band championships held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Australia Highlanders Era[edit]

For marketing reasons, in February 2006, the band's name was rebadged as Australia Highlanders Pipe Band.[8] In August 2006, the band returned to Scotland to place 4th at the Bridge of Allan pipe band competition, as well as to again compete at the World Pipe Band Championships wherein the band qualified for the Grade 1 final for the first time, finishing 11th. With an overall win at the Australian and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships later in the year, it was seen that the exceptional performances the band was already known for could still be expected under its new name. The 50th Anniversary of the band remains its most successful year to date.

In 2007 the band returned once more to Glasgow for the World Championships. Again, they qualified for the Grade 1 final and, this time, finished 13th.

The band released its second music album entitled 'Without Fear' in 2008. The band travelled to Northern Ireland, finishing 3rd in the Ulster Championships. The following week, the band failed to qualify for the final at the World Championships. Later in the year, the Australia Highlanders was placed 2nd to the Pipe Band Band Club (Sydney) at the Australian Pipe Band Championships.

In 2009, the band returned to Northern Ireland to again compete at the Ulster Championships. A week later the band again qualified for the final of the World Championships in Scotland and finished 14th.[9]

In 2010, Pipe Major Danny Boyle and Drum Sergeant Alistair Boyle resigned and the band was dissolved.

In 2014, the band was reformed under the leadership of Pipe Major George Shepherd and Drum Seargent Olav Goud. Under P/M Shepherd, the band's name was further rebadged as City of Whitehorse Pipe Band (CoWPB) and it competed in Grade 2 for its first season. In March 2015, the band placed 1st at the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Championships. In June 2015 the band was again upgraded to Grade 1.

In 2016, five members of CoWPB were suspended by Pipe Bands Australia (PBA)[10] for making a relatively innocuous but derogatory comment on the band's private Facebook page. The five members (including the Pipe Major and Drum Sergeant) subsequently resigned their membership of PBA prior to lodging an appeal.[11] The band then resigned its membership of the PBA[12] before accepting an offer to renew its membership/registration in order to be eligible to compete at the Australian Pipe Band Championships held on 2–3 October at Knox College, Sydney. However, at the 2016 Australian Championships, CoWPB was disqualified mid-way through the competition when "members of the public" assisted the band in the tuning-up area (it was obvious to spectators that other competing pipe bands also received assistance in tuning up from "members of the public" but were not penalised or disqualified). The band's membership of PBA was subsequently annulled and the band deregistered.[13] This episode in Australian pipe band history, is unparalleled, with the PBA Executive punishing the many innocent and dedicated playing members of CoWPB for what can only be described as a relatively trivial, if ill-advised remark on the band's private Facebook page.


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