Gardens get a $500k boost, but not Dorothea Mackellar's homestead

Whitehaven Coal commits $500,000 to restore Dorothea Mackellar's homestead gardens


Life & Style
Kurrumbede homestead a number of years ago. Photo supplied by Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.

Kurrumbede homestead a number of years ago. Photo supplied by Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.

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But the homestead wasn't included.

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The gardens of a homestead owned by the late poet Dorothea Mackellar will be restored and preserved over the next three years.

Whitehaven Coal, owners of the homestead near Gunnedah, since 2013, will put $500,000 into Kurrumbede's gardens but the homestead wasn't included in the funding announcement.

It comes after the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society called for the preservation of the homestead in late 2018 and submitted a nomination for it to be included on the state heritage register.

Society members met with Whitehaven representatives at the property, which borders the Namoi River, about 25km out of Gunnedah.

A Whitehaven spokesperson said the company would "continue to maintain the homestead as we have done since we acquired the property". 

The property is said to have inspired the poet's famous ode My Country, published in 1908.

Whitehaven acquired Kurrumbede in 2013 as part of its acquisition of Coalworks Ltd, which was inclusive of the Vickery South tenement.

In February, Whitehaven managing director and CEO Paul Flynn "publicly committed to preserving the Kurrumbede homestead" at an Independent Planning Commission hearing on the Vickery extension in Boggabri.

The society regards this as a positive first step towards the conservation of the homestead and surrounds, which represent a vital piece of both local and national history. - Juliana McArthur, Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society

He said last week the financial commitment would help to ensure the local landmark was preserved in the years to come.

"We're investing in local history, in a region that inspired poetry loved by people across Australia and the world," Mr Flynn said.

"Outside of routine maintenance undertaken by Whitehaven Coal and the property's previous owners, this represents the first significant investment into Kurrumbede in more than half a century.

"We're looking forward to working in partnership with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society to plan the works that will help ensure the site is preserved for the education and enjoyment of future generations of young Australian poets and poetry enthusiasts."

Members of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society meet with Whitehaven Coal representatives at Kurrumbede for the funding announcement.

Members of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society meet with Whitehaven Coal representatives at Kurrumbede for the funding announcement.

Society president Juliana McArthur welcomed the $500,000 in funding to restore the gardens.

"The society regards this as a positive first step towards the conservation of the homestead and surrounds, which represent a vital piece of both local and national history," she said.

"We are committed to ensuring the legacy of Dorothea Mackellar endures and look forward to progressing the heritage management plan with Whitehaven.

"Having the gardens brought back to their former glory where they can be enjoyed by the community is an important start."

Kurrumbede was purchased by Dorothea's father at the great Burburgate Station auction in October 1905 when 47,000 acres of freehold land was sold in 58 blocks.

The Mackellars bought four blocks, which totalled 6086 acres at an average cost of three pounds an acre.

Namoi Valley Independent

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