Gunnedah was a second home to one of Australia’s favourite poets – Dorothea Mackellar. Dorothea wrote the much-loved poem My Country and other poems, some inspired by the beautiful countryside around Gunnedah.
Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar was born on 1 July 1885, at her family's home "Dunara" at Point Piper, overlooking Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour. The Mackellar family owned properties in the Gunnedah area, including "Kurrumbede" and "The Rampadells" about 25 km north-west of town.
In 1983, Gunnedah paid tribute to Dorothea Mackellar by unveiling a bronze statue of the poet sitting side-saddle on a horse drinking from a stream. The statue is in ANZAC Park and was the result of several years of fundraising by locals – led by post-war immigrant Mikie Maas (OAM PHF).
In 1983, Mrs Maas, with the support of volunteer judges Rosemary Dobson and Joan Phipson and local poet Anne Bell, started the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society Inc. The society organises the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards – the largest children’s poetry competition in the country, attracting up to 15,000 entries each year.
In 1982, artist Jean Isherwood heard on the radio that a statue was to be erected as a memorial to Dorothea Mackellar at Gunnedah, on Australia Day, 26 January 1983. Prompted by the celebration, she created a series of 34 watercolour paintings for exhibition in Gunnedah in conjunction with the unveiling of the statue.
In 2021, Liverpool Plains artist Maree Kelly also created a series of paintings inspired by the poem.
The Kurrumbede homestead is now owned by Whitehaven Coal but the gardens can sometimes be visited during an open day.
For more information, visit www.dorothea.com.au.