Gulgong is ready to celebrate its heritage

Henry Lawson Heritage Festival organisers Kevin Robson, Jan Robson, Charles Vassel and Cheryl Vassel check out the new Red Hill Gulgong Gold Experience with volunteers Maurice Gaudry and David Warner (back). The display under Red Hill will have its official opening on the weekend as part of the program of heritage events.
Henry Lawson Heritage Festival organisers Kevin Robson, Jan Robson, Charles Vassel and Cheryl Vassel check out the new Red Hill Gulgong Gold Experience with volunteers Maurice Gaudry and David Warner (back). The display under Red Hill will have its official opening on the weekend as part of the program of heritage events.

Gulgong’s Henry Lawson Heritage Festival returns this weekend, bringing back the regular highlights of the weekend along with a few new features.

Festival coordinator Charles Vassel said now that the week’s rain was out of the way, organisers were ready for a big celebration.

Once again, the festival will close 12 blocks in the centre of town from 8am to 4pm on Saturday for a range of activities including the parade, performances and the cutting of Henry Lawson’s birthday cake.

Mr Vassel said the wheelbarrow race would be another highlight of Saturday’s celebrations, along with a live broadcast by Real FM from the centre of town.

One of the weekend’s big events will be the opening of the Gulgong Gold Experience, an underground mine museum at Red Hill.

Volunteers have been fitting out the new attraction with information boards, memorial plaques, historical recreations and more, to immerse visitors in Gulgong’s gold rush days.

The Gulgong Gold Experience will have its grand opening at 10am on Sunday, followed by a program of activities at the Red Hill Environmental Education Centre, including damper baking, billy boiling and colonial games.

The Wellington Pipe Band will be part of the festival for the first time, leading the parade and performing in the street.

The Henry Lawson Society’s theatre restaurant and awards presentation on Saturday night will include the Leonard Teale Memorial Performance Poetry Competition.

Literary awards coordinator Kevin Robson said the number of entries this year had been particularly high, with entries coming from across the eastern states, as well as a few from Western Australia, South Australia, New Zealand and even Thailand.

Mr Robson said this year’s entries had included a particularly strong contingent of emerging poets continuing the bush poetry tradition, and half the entrants in the performance poetry competition will be new faces.

Mr Robson said the scarcity of accommodation demonstrated the scale of the event, with local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts booked out for the last three months.

Mr Vassel said this year’s festival benefited from increased support and sponsorship from local businesses.

He said organisers were already thinking about next year’s festival, which will be a major celebration marking the 150th anniversary of Henry Lawson’s birth.