28 June 2021

Whitehaven welcomes locals to Kurrumbede for historic Open Day event

Whitehaven was proud to open the grounds of the historic Kurrumbede homestead to members of the local community and visiting public for the first time in over 100 years, on Saturday 12 June 2021 on the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend.

The Kurrumbede property, which is owned by Whitehaven, is located on the outskirts of Gunnedah in North West NSW and is best known for its links to one of Australia’s great poets, the late Dorothea Mackellar OBE, who authored the iconic Australian poem, My Country.

Previously closed to the public, the inaugural Open Day offered a rare opportunity to view the homestead and associated outbuildings and to reflect on the role the property and its surrounding landscapes played in inspiring Dorothea and shaping part of Australia’s literary history.

In addition to the serious business of poetry appreciation, Whitehaven joined forces with a range of community, volunteer and business groups to showcase local food, music and a selection of historic activities and entertainment including sheep shearing, sulky rides, early Twentieth Century kids’ games and prizes for the best Edwardian costume on the day.

Whitehaven is proud to present the Open Day in partnership with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, a local community group dedicated to promoting Dorothea’s works and preserving her memory for future generations. Whitehaven’s Chairman, The Hon Mark Vaile AO, is one of the Patrons of the Society.

While the Open Day is a first, it is hoped the property will play host to more community events in the future as part of Whitehaven’s broader commitment to preserving the historic site, which also includes a $500,000 investment in the progressive upgrade of Kurrumbede’s gardens.

“Whitehaven has always been focused on supporting and engaging the local community, so it was a pretty easy decision to co-host an event like this – and we are thrilled to have been able to welcome more than 1,000 people to Kurrumbede for the first time in more than a century,” said Andrew Garratt, Whitehaven Coal General Manager – Community Engagement.

“Given the success of the day, we’ll continue to consider what else might be possible with such a special property in the future,” he added.

Whitehaven is also a longstanding sponsor of the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards, which were established in 1984 and have since grown into a nationwide competition for Australian school students and poetry enthusiasts.

Whitehaven has always recognised Kurrumbede as a place of local heritage significance and is working on the completion of a Conservation Management Plan to guide its continuing investment in the property in consultation with the Society and other stakeholders, including the NSW Office of Heritage.

Whitehaven acknowledges the Gomeroi people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Kurrumbede is located, and pays its respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. Whitehaven warmly thanks Gomeroi Traditional Owner Greg Griffiths for performing a special Welcome to Country at the Open Day.

About Kurrumbede

The property known as Kurrumbede was originally part of the Burburgate run, a vast pastoral holding in the 1800s.

In 1905, this estate was subdivided into 58 blocks and sold at auction. Two of these blocks were purchased by prominent doctor and politician, Sir Charles Mackellar, Dorothea’s father, who completed building the homestead on the eastern side of the Namoi River in 1908. The property became one of Mackellar’s favourite holiday retreats, with the landscapes of North West NSW later being evoked in a number of Dorothea’s works.

The Mackellars sold the property in 1939. The Waugh family bought Kurrumbede in 1954 and it was sold to CoalWorks in 2010. Whitehaven assumed ownership of Kurrumbede through its acquisition of CoalWorks in 2013.

Pictured: Darren Swain, Whitehaven Coal, Philippa Murray, Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, Georgie Rourke, Andrew Garratt, Whitehaven Coal and Anthea Guest at the inaugural Kurrumbede Open Day.

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