The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (August 2020) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2021.
The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Canberra – 2 nights
Day 1: Tuesday 20 April, Arrive Canberra
- National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA): Presentation by film producer Dr Andrew Pike, OAM
- National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA): Presentation by curator Dr Jenny Gall
- Talk Dr Jenny Gall: ‘Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet’
- Welcome Dinner
According to author and historian A.E. Samaan, “a forgotten past is a past that is yet to be. A forgotten history is a memory missing from our collective conscience.” Oral history – what is said on radio, TV and film – is hugely important to a nation. This is what is collected and preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive. We begin our tour with a special presentation by Dr Andrew Pike, OAM, at the NFSA. He will discuss the importance of landscapes and the bush heroine, an iconic figure in Australian popular entertainment on stage and screen, literature and art. In Australian cinema, she flourished from the early silent era of 1910-14, until her gradual disappearance in the 1950s. Dr Pike, is an Australian film distributor, historian and documentary filmmaker. His company, Ronin Films, began distribution in 1974. The company’s Australian releases include Baz Luhrmann’s BAFTA-winning Strictly Ballroom (1992) and Scott Hicks’ Academy Award-winning Shine (1996). For ten years until 2012, he served on various iterations of the Board of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and since 2017 has been Director of the Canberra International Film Festival.
Textiles are amongst the most fragile of items in the NFSA collection, which is why they are only rarely placed on display. Accompanied by curator, Dr Jenny Gall, we also view selected film costumes including examples from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), My Brilliant Career (1979) and The Getting of Wisdom (1978).
Dr Gall, who is the author of Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet, will also explain how Banjo Paterson’s short stories and poems like Clancy of the Overflow and The Man from Snowy River drew on his childhood upbringing in small country towns in New South Wales (close to Orange, and then Yass) and the influence upon him of strong women of the bush – women much like his mother, Rose.
Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Canberra) D
Day 2: Wednesday 21 April, Canberra
- Tour of Yarralumla Embassies
- National Gallery of Australia: Australian Art Collection
- Exhibition: Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London
Canberra is home to nearly 80 embassies and high commissions which mostly lie in the suburb of Yarralumla. We begin today with a leisurely drive to view some of the traditional and modern architecture from many countries, accompanied by quotes and short readings from some of the writers of those countries as we travel. This includes the spectacular contemporary architecture of the Finnish Embassy by Hirvonen-Huttunen and MGT Architects and the traditional Cape Dutch style architecture of the South Africa High Commission.
Arthur Streeton once commented that “Nature’s scheme of colour in Australia is gold and blue.” Do you agree? At the National Gallery of Australia we explore the development of Australian landscape painting. Highlights include works by John Glover, Frederick McCubbin (‘Bush Idyll’), Tom Roberts (‘In a corner on the Macintyre’), Charles Conder, Margaret Preston, Lloyd Rees, Russell Drysdale (‘The Drover’s Wife’), Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Streeton. Of particular interest is ‘The Squatter’s Daughter’ painted by George Lambert in 1923-4 which depicts Gwendoline ‘Dee’ Ryrie in white shirt and jodhpurs leading her horse across the family property at Micalago Station which we visit later in the tour.
We will also view the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art collection which is inspired by the land and the people’s relationship with it. The collection, which comprises over 7500 works, is displayed over a series of gallery spaces, each designed for a different geographic region or aspect of indigenous art.
Following our tour of the gallery, there will be time at leisure to view the exhibition ‘Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London’. The exhibition, which is exclusive to Canberra, features works by Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez, Goya, Turner, Renoir, Cézanne and Gauguin. “The great artist is the simplifier”, wrote Cézanne. This exciting exhibition will give us the chance to decide if he was right. (Overnight Canberra) B
Orange – 2 nights
Day 3: Thursday 22 April, Canberra – Orange
- The Great Hall Tapestry, Parliament House
- Canberra Museum+Gallery (CMAG): The Nolan Exhibition
- Canberra Museum+Gallery (CMAG): Seeing Canberra Exhibition
Arthur Boyd, who was celebrated for his painting, pottery and sculpture, is particularly famed for his landscapes of the Australian bush. Arthur grew up in a rural setting, and lived in the country as much as possible. As he himself said, “I stress the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and its metaphysical and mythic content.” This morning we visit The Great Hall Tapestry which brings Arthur Boyd’s vision of the bush to the heart of Parliament. The bush scene, set in the Shoalhaven River area of southern New South Wales, depicts that uniqueness he described with the textures, colours and essential spirit of the Australian bush.
Sir Sidney Nolan, one of Australia’s most important modernists, is best known for his depictions of the history and mythology of Australian bush life. His paintings on the theme of the 19th-century bushranger Ned Kelly are one of the greatest series of Australian paintings of the 20th century. Today we visit CMAG to view The Nolan Collection which includes 24 works that Nolan gifted to the people of Australia in 1974. The works include paintings from the Kelly, Burke and Wills, and St Kilda series, as well as examples of the artist’s central Australian landscape and carcase works.
Within the gallery’s collection are other important works including ‘Landscape’, painted by Elioth Gruner. One of his loveliest landscapes, it was painted in 1929 during one of his trips to the countryside around Canberra including the areas around Yass, Goulburn, Braidwood and Cooma.
We go on to visit the new exhibition entitled ‘Seeing Canberra’ which explores how artists have captured the development of Canberra through different lenses, and how this has shaped the way they understood and interpreted the evolving landscape. The exhibition includes works by Douglas Dundas, Dorothy Thornhill and Elioth Gruner, Frank Hinder’s ‘Office workers in Canberra’, and interesting works by Rosalie Gascoigne, Michael Taylor, Kevin Gilbert and Toni Robertson, who settled in Canberra in the late 1970s.
In the afternoon we depart Canberra for Orange, located in the Central Tablelands. The city, which has a well-earned reputation for producing good food and wine, is the birthplace of poet Kenneth Slessor, and is almost the birthplace of Banjo Patterson. He was born at Narrambla, very near Orange, on 27 February, 1864, at the home of his aunt and uncle, Rose and John Templer. (Overnight Orange) BD
Day 4: Friday 23 April: Orange – Bathurst – Millthorpe – Orange
- Orientation tour Orange: Emmaville Cottage & Banjo Patterson Park
- Bathurst Regional Gallery
- Abercrombie House: Light Lunch, Guided tour & Organ recital
- Free time in Millthorpe
- Dinner at the award-winning Tonic Restaurant Millthorpe
We begin this morning with a short tour of Orange, visiting a number of key sites with connections to Banjo Paterson, including Emmaville Cottage and the Banjo Paterson Park. Dating from the 1850s, the Emmaville Cottage made from American redwood is believed to be one of the last farm buildings from the Narrambla property. The exact location of the original homestead is much disputed. However, within the Banjo Paterson Park lies an obelisk which commemorates the poet. The site marks the location of John Templer’s flour mill which was located not far from the homestead.
From Orange we continue to Bathurst. When Charles Darwin visited Bathurst in 1836 “to get a general idea of the country”, he thought the local people too bent on acquiring wealth and lacking a strong interest in literature. Well, much has changed since Darwin’s day! We will visit the Bathurst Regional Gallery for a curator-led tour of the gallery’s permanent collection which features works by artists such as Jean Bellette, Donald Friend, James Gleeson, John Olsen, Lloyd Rees and Fred Williams. A highlight is the Lloyd Rees Collection which includes his major painting ‘May Morning No 2’, painted in 1981, as well as a large collection of drawings and prints. The artist’s connection with Bathurst began when he married Marjory Pollard in 1931. Marjory’s family had been in the district since 1886, and the couple would travel to Bathurst regularly to stay with her family at Duramana and Mount Rankin. For over 40 years Lloyd Rees continued to visit the region; his deep love for the Bathurst landscape is reflected in the numerous paintings and drawings he completed.
Bathurst had 5030 inhabitants when Trollope visited and he was more favourably impressed than Darwin had been: “Of Bathurst I cannot speak otherwise than kindly because of the kindness I received there”, he wrote. Much of what he saw is still there and we will enjoy a guided tour of the town centre exploring its rich history and gold rush heritage.
Gordon Neil Stewart was born in Melbourne in 1912 into a wealthy Australian family with pastoral interests in the Bathurst district. He developed a love of reading from long holidays spent in the library of his uncle’s home, Abercrombie House. He mixed in literary circles and met Pamela Hansford Johnson and Dylan Thomas. In 1936 he married Hansford Johnson with whom he collaborated on two thrillers under the name Nap Lombard. His fictional works include The Place of Gold, a story of mining in the early 1850s in the newly discovered goldfields near Bathurst. Lunch will be at historic Abercrombie House. We will also tour the 50-room mansion, built in the Scottish Baronial style, and learn about its history.
After lunch and at the end of the tour around the house, we will gather in the Ballroom for a glass of sherry or champagne. Here we will enjoy a short recital and demonstration of the small but incredibly historic Chamber Organ which was the first organ brought to Australia in 1840 by Robert Campbell of Duntroon, just 23 years after Jane Austen’s death and a perfect example of the type of thing which was likely in the refined country houses of the landed gentry of whom Jane Austen so often wrote!
We end our day with a visit to Millthorpe, a beautiful heritage-listed village in the Orange Wine Region. In 2003, Millthorpe was the setting for the TV mini-series Jessica, which is based on the Bryce Courtney novel of the same name. It tells the story of the life of one woman in rural NSW during the early part of last century. There will be time at leisure to explore the village’s boutique shops and galleries, before dining at the award-winning Tonic restaurant. (Overnight Orange) BLD
Mudgee – 2 nights
Day 5: Saturday 24 April, Orange – Sofala – Hill End – Mudgee
- Township of Sofala & the Studio of Amanda Penrose Hart
- Light lunch at the Sacred Heart Church
- The Artists of Hill End: Walking tour, Murray and Haefliger cottages, and artist studio
- Dinner at the Pipeclay Pumphouse, the fine dining restaurant at the Robert Stein Vineyard & Winery
Sofala, the second established goldfield in NSW, was “a poor little town, containing 644 inhabitants, of whom a considerable portion are Chinese”, when Anthony Trollope visited it. He watched them fossicking and pitied their hard lives. In 1947 Russell Drysdale and fellow artist Donald Friend visited Sofala and Hill End; they were both captivated by the ambience and character of these towns. Works inspired by these towns, their inhabitants and the surrounding landscapes, are among those for which Drysdale is now best known. The area is also associated with Joe Yates, one of Australia’s richest sources of rare colonial dance music and songs. After working as a boundary rider on Fremantle Station, east of Orange, and later on a farm at Botobolar, near Mudgee, he retired to Sofala where he was recorded by field collectors John Meredith, Chris Sullivan and Mike Martin throughout the 1980s. There are also two small books of his poems and stories entitled Out Sofala Way and A Bushman’s Scrapbook.
This morning we view some of Sofala’s historic buildings and compare its streetscape with Russell Drysdale’s famous painting ‘Sofala’, an expression of the quintessential qualities of an inland Australian country town. We also hope to visit the studio of landscape painter Amanda Penrose Hart. Her work is represented in public and private collections including the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
Following a light lunch at the Sacred Heart Church we visit the remarkably well-preserved colonial gold mining town of Hill End. The genesis of the Hill End Artists in Residence Programme dates to Russell Drysdale’s and Don Friend’s visit to the area in the 1940s. Friend eventually bought Murrays Cottage and lived there with his partner Donald Murray for a number of years. Drysdale visited regularly, and in 1948 painted possibly his best-known work, ‘The Cricketers’. Other artists who worked here include Margaret Olley, Jean Bellette, Paul Haefliger, David Strachan and Jeffrey Smart. We will take a guided tour through the historic village and visit the Murray Cottage which is largely unaltered. It displays works of art, books and furnishings. We also view the Haefliger Cottage which was owned by Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger. The cottage, which remained largely untouched when the Haefligers moved to Majorca in 1957, includes many artworks from friends and colleagues as well as their substantial library which lines the hallway shelves. By special arrangement with the Bathurst Regional Gallery, we also plan to visit an artist’s studio.
We continue our route to reach Mudgee, first established in 1821, and where Trollope spent a night. He described it as “a clean little town”. Mudgee’s wine industry was well established by the time of Trollope’s visit – he was fond of wine and accumulated a substantial cellar. We will enjoy wine and lunch at the Pipeclay Pumphouse, a unique fine-dining restaurant at the Robert Stein Vineyard & Winery. (Overnight Mudgee) BLD
Day 6: Sunday 25 April, Mudgee – Gulgong – Eurunderee – Mudgee
- Heritage coach tour of Mudgee
- ANZAC Parade Walk, Mudgee
- Lawson Hill Estate: Eurunderee Provisional School & Henry Lawson Memorial
- Henry Lawson’s Heritage Trail
- Henry Lawson Centre, Gulgong
We spend the day exploring the Mudgee-Gulgong district. In the morning we take a heritage coach tour of Mudgee, where Trollope visited the Mechanics Institute and was impressed at the number of novels available for borrowing there. Many of Mudgee’s buildings have been classified by the National Trust.
“And man will fight on the battlefield while passion and pride are strong”, predicted Henry Lawson in his poem The Star of Australasia. Our day will be planned to enable you to join the short ANZAC Parade in Mudgee.
Republican, nationalist, poet and short-story writer, Henry Lawson was the first Australian author ever to be granted a State Funeral. Yet his beginnings were humble ones. He was born at the Grenfell goldfields in 1867. His childhood gave him strong ties to the Mudgee-Gulgong district. When he was just a few months old, the family moved to Eurunderee (then known as ‘Pipeclay’) where they squatted on 2 acres for a few years before moving to Gulgong in 1871, following the gold rush. The family returned to Eurunderee in 1873 when Henry was 6 yrs old, and took up a holding of 40 acres. His father built their house in 1876, the remains of which are at the entrance way to what is now referred to as the Lawson Hill Estate. That same year Henry began his schooling at the Eurunderee Provisional School. This school still exists, although closed, on the corner of Henry Lawson Drive and Strikes Lane. This is on the northern boundary of Lawson Hill Estate. After a disagreement with the teacher Louisa withdrew Henry from the Eurunderee school and transferred him to St Matthews Catholic School in Mudgee. He lasted at this school for only a few months before leaving school permanently. Henry spent the next 4 years working with his father on building jobs around the district, before moving to Sydney with his mother in 1883.
At the age of nine, while attending Eurunderee Provisionary School, Henry developed an ear infection and became partially deaf. In spite of this he had an amazing ear for ‘the voice of the people’ in his writings. In 1897 he wrote about the school in his poem The Old Bark School. Above Eurunderee is about the town and surrounding area. Lawson famously told stories in the Mudgee’s Miner’s Arms Hotel and wrote much of his work while living in the area.
“There was one who first taught me my future to rule
In the dear old bark humpy where I went to school;
and the kind hearted master I’ll never forget
(Nor the brogue of old Erin that clings to me yet)
But his hair must be frosty and wrinkled his brow
If he teaches the school at Eurunderee now.”
Henry Lawson, Eurunderee
On 14 October, 1871, English novelist Anthony Trollope was guest of honour at a luncheon in Gulgong and had to make a speech. He complimented the locals on being “more English than they are at home” and thanked them for the warm welcome he had received. He was impressed by the town’s facilities – pubs, banks, a photographer, hotels, bakers, butchers and an auction house.
Lawson once called the Australian bush “the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds”, and it features in so many of his works. The Henry Lawson Heritage Trail covers a total of 15 sites associated with Lawson and his writings. Some of the places included are Sapling Gully which Lawson wrote about in His Father’s Mate, and the Budgee Budgee Inn (out on the Cassilis Road – and setting for the famous story The Loaded Dog). We will follow this heritage trail and visit the Henry Lawson Centre dedicated to Lawson’s life and works. Displays include photos, paintings, first editions and manuscripts. (Overnight Mudgee) BL
Young – 1 night
Day 7: Monday 26 April, Mudgee – Yeoval – Grenfell – Young
- ‘Banjo Paterson… more than a Poet’ Exhibition, Yeoval
- Lunch at the Railway Hotel, Grenfell
- Grenfell Historical Museum
- Grenfell Silo Art with the artist Heesco Khosnaran (by video conference)
Yeoval (known as Buckinbah in the 1860s) is a small village in the Central Western district surrounded by rich agricultural land known for its production of fine wool, wheat, orchards, vineyards, beef cattle and fat lambs. Banjo Paterson’s family lived on isolated Buckinbah Station until he was five, then his father lost his wool clip in a flood and was forced to sell up. When Banjo’s uncle John Paterson died, Banjo’s family took over John Paterson’s farm in Illalong, near Yass. This morning we visit the ‘Banjo Paterson … more than a Poet’ Exhibition which is the only exhibition in Australia dedicated to the life and times of the poet whose Waltzing Matilda is familiar to us all.
Gold was discovered in Grenfell in 1866. Among the early miners to rush to the fields was a Norwegian digger Niels Larsen. On 17th June 1867 Larsen’s wife, Louisa (who became a writer, publisher and suffragist), gave birth to a son they named Henry, changing their surname to Lawson at the same time. For a short time they lived together in the slab hut Niels built, before moving to the Mudgee region, where Henry Lawson spent most of his childhood. In 1924, following the death of Henry Lawson, a tree was planted on the site of the original slab hut. The ceremony to commemorate this site was attended by Lawson’s wife and daughter. Another literary figure with connections to Grenfell was Anthony Trollope, who travelled to Grenfell twice in 1871 to visit his son Frederick who worked on a nearby sheep station. “I went to Australia chiefly in order that I might see my son among his sheep. I did see him among his sheep, and remained with him for four or five very happy weeks”, Trollope wrote. Fred’s property at Mortray was the sheep station Trollope described so accurately in his novella Harry Heathcote of Gangoil.
On arrival in Grenfell we will have lunch at the historic Railway Hotel, also made famous for its appearance in the Australian Film 1915 starring Sigrid Thornton. We’ll make a short tour of the town and include a brief visit to the Historical Museum. Housed in the former School of Arts dating from 1896, the museum includes exhibitions on Henry Lawson and the history of bushranging.
In 2018 Melbourne based artist Heesco Khosnaran was commissioned to transform four silos into a canvas for Grenfell’s largest artwork installation. We will view this artwork which needed 180 litres of paint and 800 spray cans to complete. The artwork images represent contemporary farming with sheep, cattle, and native birds set against a depiction of the Weddin Mountains National Park. Heesco Khosnaran will join the visit by video conference.
In the late afternoon we drive on to the town of Young, another gold town and the cherry capital of Australia. (Overnight Young) BLD
Tumut – 1 night
Day 8: Tuesday 27 April, Young – Binalong – Killimicat – Tumut
- Grave of Banjo Paterson’s father Andrew Bogle Paterson, Binalong
- Mylora Homestead, Binalong
- Lunch at Nimbo Fork Lodge, Killimicat
- Award-winning author Sulari Gentill: ‘Crime Fiction’
We depart Young for the village of Binalong. Banjo Paterson’s family moved to the district in 1869 when he was five years old. He attended the primary school in Binalong but later went to boarding school in Sydney, returning home in the holidays. The district features in a number of his poems, including Pardon, the son of Reprieve. We will visit the grave of Paterson’s father who is buried in the local cemetery.
Mylora, a restored historic homestead in Binalong is immortalised in one of Banjo Paterson’s first published poems, The Mylora Elopement, based on his memories growing up on neighbouring ‘Illalong’. The first verse reads:
By the winding Wollondilly where the weeping willows weep,
And the shepherd, with his billy, half awake and half asleep,
Folds his fleecy flocks that linger homewards in the settting sun,
Lived my hero, Jim the Ringer, “cocky”, on Mylora Run
Following our morning visit to Mylora, we continue our journey south to Killimicat, nestled in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. We will dine at Nimbo Fork Lodge, a countryside escape which offers a paddock-to-plate dining experience. What a treat to be joined there by award-winning author Sulari Gentill who lives on a French black truffles farm in nearby Batlow. Also known under the pen name of S.D. Gentill, Sulari is author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries – thus far, ten historical crime novels chronicling the life and adventures of her 1930s gentleman artist and his Bohemian friends. These books, set in Sydney but also in the Canberra region, have been described as “Evelyn Waugh meets Agatha Christie” and they are a delightful read. Sulari has also written the Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world.
In the late afternoon we continue to the town of Tumut, the Aboriginal word for ‘quiet resting place by the river’. (Overnight Tumut) BLD
Canberra – 2 nights
Day 9: Wednesday 28 April, Tumut – Adaminaby – Michelago – Canberra
- The Snowy Mountains Highway: Australia’s High Country
- Adaminaby Cemetery – Charles Lachlan “Charlie Mac” McKeahnie (time-permitting)
- Mt Gladstone Lookout, Cooma
- Micalago Station: Lunch and tour of the gardens
This morning we depart Tumut and take the scenic Snowy Mountains Highway, which traverses the northern part of the Kosciuszko National Park, to Adaminaby, a small town north-west of Cooma. The historic Bolaro Station and scenic Yaouk Valley are located near the township. In 1939 the Nobel winning author Patrick White wrote his debut novel Happy Valley which is based on his own experiences in the early 1930s as a jackaroo at Bolaro. It paints a portrait of a community in a desolate landscape.
Some historians believe that Banjo Paterson’s most famous poem, The Man from Snowy River, may have been inspired by the exploits of an Adaminaby stockman, Charlie McKeahnie. McKeahnie died in a riding accident in 1895. Time-permitting, we will visit his grave in the Old Adaminaby Cemetery.
From Adaminaby we continue our journey along the highway to the Mount Gladstone Lookout where we may enjoy magnificent views across the Monaro Plains and to the peaks of the Snowy Mountains.
From the Lookout we head north through the Michelago Valley, much appreciated by poets, artists and filmmakers. Along with his mentor George Lambert, Elioth Gruner (1882-1939) was captivated by the subtle play of light across the valley. When he died at the age of 57, he left two unfinished paintings of the Michelago Valley which were donated to the National Art School in Sydney.
Stella Maria Miles Franklin was born in 1879 in the Monaro region. She was raised and educated on Brindabella Station, where her father was a wealthy cattle owner. One theme which ran through Franklin’s life was her love of the Australian mountain country. Her delightful autobiography Childhood at Brindabella tells the story of her first ten years spent partly at this station. Her first novel, written in 1901, My Brilliant Career, features a headstrong girl growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s. Many scenes in the Gillian Armstrong-directed 1979 My Brilliant Career were filmed at the historic homestead of Micalago Station, which we visit. We’ll take a guided tour around the heritage-listed gardens and visit the site where George Lambert painted ‘The Squatter’s Daughter’. Lambert met Major General Sir Granville Ryrie in 1918, while serving as an official war artist in Palestine during WWI. After his return to Australia he visited the Ryrie property, Micalago, in 1923 and became a regular visitor over the following years. He described the Micalago landscape in a poem:
The sun is down and ‘Micalago’ is at rest
Like Chinese silk of faded gold, the grass and all the hills like breasts of turtle-doves …
my soul could find a home ‘midst blades of grass
And get its music from the whispering trees …
These pleasant little hills that lure us on
To ride and ride until we reach beyond.
David Campbell, whose home we visit tomorrow, also wrote a poem The Squatter’s Daughter about the funerals of Granville Ryrie and his daughter at Michelago:
Veterans shed tears and limped the sweet-briar miles
Behind his guncarriage to Michelago
And now The Squatter’s Daughter follows him:
The grey lake blurs beneath
Governor’s Hill, her candid spirit mourned
By grandchildren with hair of daffodil.
Following our lunch and tour of the property we make our way back to Canberra. (Overnight Canberra) BL
Day 10: Thursday 29 April, Canberra – Manar – Braidwood – Palerang Homestead – Canberra
- Landscapes painted by Elioth Gruner, Manar
- Bedervale, Braidwood
- Palerang Homestead
Elioth Gruner was one of Australia’s most celebrated Australian artists in the early twentieth century and won the prestigious ‘Wynne Prize’ for landscape seven times between 1916 and 1937. This morning we meet with Hugh Gordon, the great grandson of William Deuchar Gordon, born at Manar on 19 June 1871. During our visit to Manar, Hugh will kindly show us the locations of Gruner’s works which include ‘Manar, Bungendore’ and ‘Australian Autumn, Manar’, painted sometime between 1933 and 1939.
In 2014, CMAG presented an exhibition of Gruner’s work entitled ‘Elioth Gruner: The Texture of Light’. Senior curator, Deborah Clark explains the relationship between Elioth Gruner and Manar:
Around 1921 Elioth Gruner first visited Manar, a large cattle and sheep property between Bungendore and Braidwood, on the other side of the Tinderry Range from Michelago. Manar belonged to Deuchar Gordon (1871-1951), whose family had extensive established holdings in the region going back to the 1830s. Gordon was a member – and president in the 1930s – of the Australian Club, established in 1837 to facilitate the ‘social and literary interests of the colony and for the general interests of country gentlemen’, and he and other landowners in the region such as Granville Ryrie of Michelago and the Langs at Carlaminda on the Monaro, hosted artists and writers and supported their work. Gruner was a welcome visitor to these homesteads, interested in the land as well as the social pursuits of their owners – music, literature, gardens.
Gruner’s relationship with the Gordons lasted until his death, close to twenty years, and he returned to Manar a number of times. Deuchar and other members of his family purchased Gruner’s paintings and the artist made them a number of gifts of works.
From Manar we continue to Bedervale, a heritage-listed colonial homestead situated on a 450-hectare cattle and sheep property, 2km from Braidwood. The house, which was built between 1836 and 1840 by Captain John Coghill, was designed by the great architect, builder and pioneer settler, John Verge (1782-1861) who is also credited with designing Campden Park, Menangle and Elizabeth Bay House, Sydney. Although privately owned, the contents of Bedervale’s homestead was purchased by the National Trust in order to maintain the interior collection which reflects changing tastes and social habits from Victorian through to Edwardian times. Following our tour of the homestead we enjoy lunch in the grounds and explore the historic gardens which contain plantings dating from the 19th century.
A short distance from ‘Bedervale’ lies the National Trust-classified town, Braidwood. Writers and painters have long found inspiration in Braidwood, most notably the poet and environmental activist Judith Wright, who died in 2000. She spent the final years of her life living at a rural riverside property between Braidwood and Mongarlowe. Braidwood’s charming character has also led it to being the backdrop for iconic Australian films such as Robbery Under Arms (1920), Ned Kelly (1970), and The Year My Voice Broke (1987). We’ll have time at leisure to explore the town’s colonial buildings and rustic streetscape.
Born in 1915 at Ellerslie station near Adelong, New South Wales, David Campbell is remembered as one of Australia’s finest lyric poets. He was a grazier in the Monaro for most of his life and a decorated airman during WWII. Over thirty years he published eleven books of poems and two of short stories, many of which appeared in The Bulletin. His poetry, which was inspired by his love of the land, had considerable influence on fellow writers.
For now the sharp leaves
On the tree are still
And the great blond paddocks
Come down from the hill.
This afternoon we visit Palerang Homestead, a former 1840s inn which lay on the coach road connecting the Monaro district to Goulburn and Sydney. David Campbell wrote much of his work when he and his family lived here through the mid 1960’s. (Overnight Canberra) BL
Day 11: Friday 30 April, Canberra, Tour Ends
- National Library Of Australia (NLA): Behind-the-Scenes
- Tuggeranong Homestead: Tour & Farewell Lunch
- Author Chris Hammer: ‘The New Class of Australian Crime Writers’
By special appointment, we tour the National Library of Australia for a behind-the-scenes view of selected works. This copyright library is the largest reference library in the country containing an extensive collection of maps, rare books, photographs, oil paintings and manuscripts. Albert Einstein once commented: “The only thing you have to know, is the location of the library.” Well, in Canberra a wonderful library is not hard to find.
Our farewell lunch will be held at the heritage-listed and rural Tuggeranong Homestead. War historian Dr Charles Bean and his staff occupied the homestead from 1919 to 1925 and commenced the task of writing the Official History of Australia’s involvement in WWI.
We are delighted that acclaimed author, Chris Hammer, a leader in ‘Australian noir’, has kindly agreed to join us for our farewell lunch. For over 30 years Chris was a journalist covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. In Canberra, his roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS’s Dateline, and senior political journalist for The Age. In 2018 he published his debut crime novel, Scrublands, which won the 2019 CWA Dagger New Blood Award for Best Crime Novel and became an instant best-seller. “Set in a fictional Riverina town at the height of a devastating drought, Scrublands is one of the most powerful, compelling and original crime novels to be written in Australia”, is what a critic had to say about it. Its sequel Silver, published in 2019, moves from ‘bush noir’ to ‘beach noir’ in an atmospheric story which captures the quintessentially Australian coastal lifestyle.
Sadly, all travels must come to an end. We head back to Canberra and its airport. Hopefully you will take with you an increased appreciation of the literary and artistic treasures of this country. BL
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
Dorothea Mackellar, My Country