Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Mural
Gunnedah, Country and Outback NSW
2021 Winner: Best Mega Mural
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
Gunnedah boasts two new tourist attractions – this silo art and the Mackellar Centre. Like the silo art which features the second verse of Mackellar’s famous ‘My Country’ poem, this second landmark takes poetry lovers from far and wide on a journey into the “wordy” world of Australian poetry. Both offer visitors the chance to experience the genius of Dorothea Mackellar in the town that inspired some of her works. There is also a bronze statue and other complementary experiences.
Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar was born in 1885 overlooking Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour, a long way from Gunnedah. From a well-to-do family, she apparently loved both the gentile social life and country sojourns.
Before turning 20 she penned a poem called ‘Core of My Heart’ and three years later it was first published in the London Spectator. Its descriptive terms gave readers from distant shores an insight into the real Australia. Gaining popularity, the poem was published again on home soil more than once before Dorothea included it under a new name in her inaugural book, The Closed Door and Other Verses. It’s new name? 'My Country'.
The inspiration for this seminal work which helped forge an emerging national identity came from the golden green fields surrounding Gunnedah where Dorothea spent time on some of the Mackellar family owned properties, including ‘Kurrumbede’ and ‘The Rampadells’. These two remained in the family after her father sold others, with two of her brothers taking them over and giving Dorothea an avenue to continue enjoying the Gunnedah region. She returned regularly until retreating to Sydney to care for her ageing parents.
This silo art piece, painted by Heesco, commissioned by the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.
Where? Barber Street, Gunnedah. There is a viewing platform and interpretive information on the walkway of the nearby overpass and at the mill’s entrance. Please note: this is a working mill and trucks seasonally access the site on a 24-hour basis.
Best viewing times: The silos face north north west, so can be viewed all year round.