The formation of cultural associations has long been a crucial way in which immigrant communities have maintained and fostered cultural traditions in their new homeland. The first documented appearance of Scottish societies in Victoria occurred after the discovery of gold: the Comunn na Feinne in Geelong (1856), the Highland Society of Maryborough (1857), the Caledonian Society of Victoria (1858, reconstituted in 1884 as the Caledonian Society of Melbourne), and the Caledonian Societies of Ballarat (1858) and Bendigo (1859). These associations organised a variety of activities, including aid for ill or widowed Scots, social gatherings, sporting meets and concerts.
The Comunn na Feinne Society, also known as the Fingalian Society, was established in Geelong by Scottish Highlanders. Members would almost certainly have spoken Scottish Gaelic and membership may have been restricted to Highlanders and Gaelic speakers. The Society lasted from the 1850s to the 1940s and in its early years featured the traditional Highland game of 'shinty' (akin to the Irish game of 'hurling') at its New Year gatherings. Sport played an important role in this endeavour to preserve Scottish culture and Highland Games were held across Victoria, often with an open policy for entrants.
Museum Victoria holds a silver medal (NU 34518) that was awarded to the Secretary of the Scottish Comunn na Feinne Society of Geelong, Mr JS Mackay in 1877, in recognition of his services. The iconography of the medal is very interesting. The Society marks its Scottish-Australian identity by portraying a Scotsman alongside a traditional Aboriginal figure as supporters of its arms.
Cumming, Cliff (1996). 'Emigrant Scots and Indigenous Australians - Comunn na feinne Geelong, Australia and the Aborigines'. Scots and Aboriginal Culture Conference, Scottish Studies Spring Colloquium, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, 1996.