Gunnedah to Gayndah

This is a quick post to share some pics from my trip to Gunnedah last week, for the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards Presentation Ceremony. I know many of my Poetry Friday friends are keen to see the winning poems – and if you click across to Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Award Winners (my previous post), not only will you see the poems, but you’ll meet the amazing poets, too! For today – pics of Gunnedah! Thank-you to Laura from Writing the World for Kids for hosting our Poetry Friday round-up this week.

I arrived Wednesday evening, to run poetry workshops on Thursday for children from Gunnedah and surrounds. (There are so many sites and towns with delightful names, including the nearby Boggabri.) Thursday afternoon, award winners and the secondary judge (Meredith Costain) arrived – though there were some hiccups with delayed flights, lost luggage and a broken-down bus… But we still managed to squeeze in a whistle-stop tour of Gunnedah, which is a town that has so much to offer tourists! Two lovely lookouts – with amazing vistas. (Pensioners Hill also includes stone carvings which are impressive.) I tried twice for a pic with Dorothea on her horse, opposite the Mackellar Centre but alas, Thursday evening I was too rushed, and Friday morning, the wind was gusting… (I look a fright!) I’ll have to go back again to try a third time for a better pic. (Sentiment runs strong on this!) But you can spot Dorothea on horseback in the collage below.

I’d printed a small canvas of my golden shovel inspired by Dorothea Mackellar’s iconic ‘My Country’ as a thank-you gift for the committee. I was touched by how much they loved it – and a little blown away to hear that it will find a place on the wall in the Mackellar Centre. It resonated with committee members who are also feeling the grit of dust, as they pour their lifeblood into this vast sunburnt land – and love her.

Less than 24 hours after announcing the award winners at Gunnedah, NSW, (and three chock-full, sometimes turbulent flights later) I was presenting a writing workshop for artists at Gayndah, Qld, where I was delighted to meet a young lass who rates ‘Bully on the Bus’ as her favourite book – has read it double-digits times and perhaps knows it better than me! She now has ‘On Track’ and ‘Too Many Friends’ to complete her collection…

After the dust of Gunnedah and Gayndah, I arrived home to more dust – and smoke. Numerous dams dried up in my absence, and grass is tinder-dry. We are all yearning for the drumming of the army, that Dorothea writes of;

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –

But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

From My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar


9 comments

  1. What a whirlwind of an event, Kat. Your photos share your joy. Congratulations on your poem being hung in the Mackellar Centre for all to see. May the rain come and soak your land so your grass can regain its color and hearts be happy.

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  2. Applause dear Kat! Your poem on a wall! We will look forward to those images, too, as we do scour this bright & wonderful tableau of your recent poetry trip. I can’t even think of a woman poet we have a sculpture-statute of – in our state (Florida) or in our region (The South. 0k. maybe there is Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta, but not a poet, she was.) I love it that Dorothea Mackellar is presented forever on her horse. So much goodness & hope in this travelogue. Brava!

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  3. Wow, yes, I see Dorothea on her horse, Kat, & how wonderful to have your poem on that wall! Congratulations! The description in the poem lines you shared remind me of us in Colorado. Though not quite as dry this year, we love “The steady, soaking rain.” Best wishes to you in that, too. You are a busy poet!

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  4. I am a bit exhausted reading of your hectic, but glorious adventure. I followed the link to your golden shovel poem. I loved both of the poems, but was struck by how similar the landscape is to the landscape of my heart where I grew up. Perhaps this is why these lines resonate so profoundly with me.
    But then the grey clouds gather,
    And we can bless again
    The drumming of an army,
    The steady, soaking rain.

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  5. Thanks for this virtual trip to your award conference Kat, and what an honor to have your poem included on the walls there, congrats! Fun to see the young gal who is entranced with your books too. Hope the rains will hear your call and come your way soon.

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  6. Kat, how wonderful that you got to celebrate these young poets and their excellent work. It sounds like a real roller coaster–very busy! Thank you for the pictures and for sharing that beautiful, painful drought poem.

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  7. There are awards….and then there are AWARDS. I do believe you have received AWARDS on your trip. How wonderful and fun and rewarding and I’m just so pleased for you and proud of you. I hope you can surf this success right into the next. Well done, Kat. Thank you for sharing beautiful photos with us. I love how much you are working with the next generation of writers.

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