AN AUSTRALIAN band is among the hopefuls as the ­international piping festival approaches its climax with the world championships this weekend.

The Canberra Burns Club Pipe Band, led by pipe major Athol Chalmers, has returned to compete in the Glasgow event for the first time in ten years.

The 80-strong group includes around 60 pipers and ranges in age from 15 to 55.

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Mr Chalmers, who is 55, said he noticed an "enormous" difference in the standard of the competition since the band was last in the city a decade ago.

He said: "The standard of the bands is so much higher than it was ten years ago, an enormous increase, and the pressure of the festival itself - 10 years ago it had nowhere near as packed an agenda nor as many people as it has now.

"I've been here myself five or six years out of the ten since we were last here as a group and I've seen it progress, but the standard is so high and the week in Glasgow is really fantastic."

He added that the band would do their best to reach the World Pipe Band Championship finals on Saturday.

"We think we are playing to the best of our ability but the standard is so high that you can't be sure you're going to get through," he said.

"The bottom line is I think we're competitive and we have a chance to get through to the finals, but for us it's just important that we come off feeling that we did our absolute best.

"You can't do more than that, but if we get through to the final it would be a real bonus. Fingers crossed."

Mr Chalmers added that there had been widespread coverage in Australia of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, which added to the group's excitement as they headed across the globe to take part in Piping Live.

He said: "It got enormous coverage in Australia, it was fantastic. We knew it was finishing just as we were arriving. We just got the sense of Glasgow being so alive with that, there was a real high in the place.

"I love coming here every year myself. No matter how long you've been doing it, you learn so much because this is where the best pipe bands in the world are. You always learn every year you come back. It's great."