Whitehaven Coal has committed $500,000 to restore and preserve the gardens of the Kurrumbede homestead, a property near Gunnedah once owned by the family of one of Australia’s great poets, Dorothea Mackellar OBE.
Whitehaven acquired the property in 2013 as part of its acquisition of Coalworks Ltd inclusive of the Vickery South tenement. The funding package was announced by Whitehaven at Kurrumbede together with representatives of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, a group dedicated to the promotion of Dorothea and her works.
Whitehaven Managing Director anEO Paul Flynn said the company’s half a million dollar commitment over three years will help ensure a local landmark is preserved.
“Today we’re investing in local history, in a region that inspired poetry loved by people across Australia and the world. Outside of routine maintenance undertaken by Whitehaven Coal and the property’s previous owners, this represents the first significant investment into Kurrumbede in more than half a century,” Mr Flynn said.
“We’re looking forward to working in partnership with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society to plan the works that will help ensure the site is preserved for the education and enjoyment of future generations of young Australian poets and poetry enthusiasts.”
Purchased in 1905 by Dorothea Mackellar’s father, who later constructed the homestead, Kurrumbede was one of Mackellar’s favourite holiday retreats and features a landscape evoked in a number of her works. The Mackellar family also owned other properties in the Gunnedah area, including The Rampadells.
Whitehaven Coal Chairman and Patron of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society Mark Vaile said he was proud of the company’s sponsorship and ongoing commitment to support the Society’s work and inspire young Australians through poetry.
“It’s our hope that by preserving a small part of our nation’s literary history in Gunnedah, future generations of Australians can learn about the mark Dorothea Mackellar made on how we perceive the beauty of this country,” Mr Vaile said.
Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society President Juliana McArthur welcomed the generous initiative to restore the Kurrumbede gardens and said the Society looked forward to working with Whitehaven Coal on the garden project.
“The Society regards this as a positive first step towards the conservation of the homestead and surrounds which represent a vital piece of both local and national history,” she said.
“We are committed to ensuring the legacy of Dorothea Mackellar endures and look forward to progressing the heritage management plan with Whitehaven. Having the gardens brought back to their former glory where they can be enjoyed by the community is an important start.”
Whitehaven’s commitment to Kurrumbede builds on its strong track record of contributing to the region. Since 2013, Whitehaven has invested more than $1.5 billion in North West NSW through wages, supporting local businesses and contributing to community and charitable causes.
Image: Whitehaven Coal’s Executive General Manager Corporate and External Affairs Michael van Maanen and Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society President Juliana McArthur with Society members at Kurrumbede.