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92.9fm Regional News

  • Writer's pictureAlayna Fong

A step back in time

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Being opened to the public for only the second time in 100 years, residents and visitors in Gunnedah got to step back in time over the June long weekend at the historic Kurrumbede homestead open day.

Situated just 25km outside of Gunnedah, the historic property was once owned by the family of famed poet Dorothea Mackellar with her most well-known poem ‘My Country’ reflecting her experiences living off the land.

In 2009 the property was sold to Whitehaven Coal and as a company they worked closely with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society to host the open day and celebrate the region’s rich history.

As well as seeing the homestead, visitors also got to see demonstrations in ploughing and whip cracking.

Purchased in 1905, the Mackellar family ran a sheep, cattle and mixed cropping operation on the 6,600-acre property for close to four decades and in 2022, the property was officially listed under the state’s heritage register.

“Considering the mine, we are hopeful the addition to the register will give the homestead and its outer buildings including a wool shed and stables, some level of protection,” said Pip Murray, President of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.

But what people may not know about the Kurrumbede property is Dorothea was not the only famous person to occupy the residence.

Olympic gold medalist in swimming at the 1924 Paris Olympics, Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton, was a station hand on the property with his hut still standing to this day.

“He worked on Kurrumbede for seven years, arriving at the property with no experience even riding a horse,” said Pip.

“The hut where he lived is very basic. It would’ve had room for just a single bed and a few belongings, but he truly did love his time out there.”

Training for the Olympics outside of Gunnedah was no easy task but like the champion he was, he trained in the Namoi River, even swimming in an exhibition carnival against a Russian swimmer for the locals in 1925.

Open day visitors got to see Boy Charlton’s hut, along with the many other buildings still standing, transporting them right to the scenes of Dorothea’s poems.


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