Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey has congratulated weavers Fred and Marie Lawson on their officially registered The Koala Tartan, the first of its kind worldwide. Cr Chaffey, as Mayor of the Koala Capital of the World, attended the Cutting-off the Loom ceremony at The Crofters Weaving Mill at Spring Ridge recently, cutting the first weave of the new tartan. Cr Chaffey said: “It’s an honour to be here in this beautiful part of the world, where the very talented Lawsons have created another masterpiece – an officially registered tartan that celebrates our national icon – the koala. Gunnedah is known as the Koala Capital of the World, and Council is working towards helping the conservation of the koala in this region through our planned Koala Sanctuary and Hospital. The Lawson’s tartan is a wonderful tribute to this much-loved animal. The Koala Tartan, registered through The Scottish Register of Tartans, is now recognised worldwide as the pattern that represents the koala.”
The Koala Tartan is the work of Weaver to the Queen Fred Lawson and his sister Marie Lawson, who originally learnt to weave at a Gunnedah TAFE course more than 20 years ago. Since that time, the Lawsons have successfully designed and created about 10 registered tartans, using only natural materials which are often dyed at their property. As well as designing tartans for the Australian Heritage Tartan, the Australian Heavy Horse Tartan and many other designs, Fred was commissioned to weave a Victorian State tartan for the Queen as a gift after the Victorian bushfires. Marie Lawson says they have had The Koala Tartan in mind for some years, but were waiting for the right blend of colours. “You start with an idea and then come up with a colour set – the number of colour threads and the sequence,” Marie says. “You make a quick sample from the closest colours you have to see how it is balanced. Once you have worked on that, you do another sample weave. You can see how it looks on the computer, but it is totally different once it has been woven. We went through three weaves before we came up with The Koala Tartan.”
A sample was sent to The Scottish Register of Tartans where it went through the stringent approval process that includes ensuring the design is not too close to royal tartans and meets certain standards. It is also recommended the tartan is put on public view. The Koala Tartan was on display at the Liverpool Plains Military Tattoo where it met with public approval. The tartan was approved by The Scottish Register of Tartans, but the original name – The Australian Koala Tartan – was knocked back, so the Lawson’s second choice of The Koala Tartan was submitted and approved. The Lawsons will now work towards a range of products including scarves, silk scarves, shawls, mohair rugs, knee rugs and ties, woven in the distinctive The Koala Tartan. Each piece is individually hand-woven from natural materials. “The tartan has turned out absolutely beautifully,” Marie says. “Everything just blended so well together.”
About The Koala Tartan colours: Dark and light grey: the majority koala coat colour. White: for the speckles or patches on the rump and chest area and inside ears. Black: for the nose. Pink: for the skin colour around the nose and mouth. Dark brown: for their eyes. Green: for eucalyptus leaves which is their main diet and dwelling tree.
Main photo: Marie Lawson, Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey and Fred Lawson with the new Koala Tartan.