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Gunnedah

Thursday, 11 November 2021 10:22 am

When we arrived in Gunnedah it was 29 degrees with close to 100% humidity. Thick cloud banks overhung the town with more severe rain predicted. This spurned us on to tour the major sites before a possible downpour. 

On ANZAC hill was our first encounter with Dorothea McKellar, Gunnedahs favourite daughter and one of the most wellknown writers and poets of Australia. Growing up on a local farm in the late 19th century, she was an accomplished horsewoman and very proud of this skill. Nearby is the Dorothea Mackellar Center with photos and paraphenelia of the poet. From here the D. Mackellar Price is alloted for the encouragement of young Australian writers. Amusing were the displayed poems of 9 year old pupils, one of them putting his yearning for a MacDonald big Mac into poesie.

The large water tower overlooking the Gunnedah plain depicts one of the few memorials of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war where in 1966 a small army of ANZACs tried to hold back an overwhelming number of Vietcong in the horrendous battle of Long Tan. This battle has reached legendary status in Australia. 

Dorothea Mackellar is again immortalised on another silo painting. While home sick in London she wrote “My Country”, a poem which probably every school child in Australia knows. The lines “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains…” is often quoted and is an iconic description. 

Inspired by the 100 year old poem, local painter Maree Kelly,created a set of the landscapes in various lights and states which are displayed at the tourist office. With all the recent rain we didn’t see so much of the sunburnt country but a lusher, greener version. 

The town itself is very green with several parks, a golf course and beautiful gum trees which are known to harbour Koalas at times. 

We were told that the so-called Pensioner’s Hill is one of those areas favoured by the koalas. The Hill got it’s name in the Great Depression when the poorest of people sought refuge there. 

All their rickety abodes were later removed and today the hill is a restful place