Kurrumbede Homestead – once home to poet Dorothea Mackellar –turned on the ‘old world’ charm as guests descended on the property for last weekend’s open day.

For some it was their first visit to the state heritage-listed residence near Gunnedah. Purchased by Sir Charles Mackellar in 1905, the property was a favourite holiday retreat for daughter, Dorothea, who penned the well-known poem ‘My Country’.

Others like Mac Mercer, 95, were returning to the same property he first visited as five-year-old child nearly a century ago.

Mr Mercer, who now lives in Tamworth, recalled how he attended one of the early homestead open days in 1934 which included an athletics competition.

That year he attended alongside his father, Fred, who won the foot race over a distance of about 120 yards.

Mac Mercer, right, with son Bruce, at the Kurrumbede Open Day.

The Mercer family has sprinting in their blood with fathers, sons and grandsons all talented athletes in their own right – Mac even coached a winner of Australia’s richest footrace, the Stawell Gift.

Mac’s son, Bruce, who accompanied his father on the return visit to Kurrumbede last weekend, said his dad was chuffed to reminisce about those early memories of his youth.

Another returning to the property was former Kurrumbede garden caretaker, Rob Groth.

It had been about 15 years since he last visited the property.

Mr Groth recalled the “extensive gardens” and rare flowers which surrounded Kurrumbede Homestead.

“There was a big range of iconic and rare bulbs – old fashioned plants you don’t really come across these days,” he said.

Mr Groth was pleased to see the homestead in remarkable condition given its age.

“It’s a good example of the architecture of the time, for our local community it’s a real gem,” he said.

The Kurrumbede Open Day was co-hosted by Whitehaven Coal – which owns the property in connection with its nearby mine site.

Whitehaven Coal general manager community engagement, Darren Swain, was suitably dressed in the day’s 1930s-era themed attire. He also won a ‘best dressed’ award alongside daughter, Anthea Guest.

Mr Swain was pleased with the community’s response to the open day despite the cold conditions on Saturday.

“The weather held off,” he said. “It was looking a bit soggy but we’re pleased to put on another good day with a good crowd of people.”

Mr Swain said Whitehaven is keen to continue the event’s partnership with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.

He said more maintenance work is planned on the gardens and the homestead which is occupied year-round. Whitehaven also leases land surrounding the property.

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