A historic farmhouse built in NSW’s northwest by the family of famed Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar has been listed as heritage after a three-year campaign.
- Dorothea Mackellar frequently visited the rural property
- It was feared that an expanding coal mine could pose a hazard
- Property owner says his commitment to preserving the home has not changed
The Mackellar family built Kurrumbede, near Gunnedah, in the early 20th century.
Historians say the poetess was a frequent visitor to the property and used the surrounding landscape as inspiration for much of her work.
But a local historical society has expressed concern that the expansion of a nearby coal mine could pose a threat to the farm, due to the potential effects of coal dust and underground blasting.
Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society president Philippa Murray said the property would be “right on the lip” of Whitehaven Coal’s Vickery mine when expanded.
“It gives the owner, Whitehaven, access to heritage grants for restoration, so that’s a good thing and we hope they take advantage of it.”
A spokesperson for Whitehaven Coal said it had a long-standing commitment to preserving Kurrumbede, including investing $500,000 to upgrade the gardens and opening the farm to the public last year.
“Regardless of the official heritage status, working to preserve this special property for future generations is business as usual for us,” the spokesperson said.
The company’s managing director, Paul Flynn, had previously said plans to expand the Vickery mine were “in line with preserving the farm”.
“National” cultural significance
The memorial society had campaigned for the property to be listed on the Heritage Register for around three years and had several meetings with New South Wales Environment Minister James Griffin.
Ms Murray said Whitehaven Coal was initially reluctant to support its inclusion.
“But thanks to them, they came to the party and realized there was a groundswell in public opinion,” she said.
She said Dorothea Mackellar’s profile meant the property was of national significance.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson backed the campaign and said it was a nice addition to Dorothea Mackellar’s profile.
“It’s something very, very special for Gunnedah,” Mr Anderson said.
“These old buildings that are part of our social fabric where we come from…must be preserved.”