Gulgong festival salutes wordsmith Henry Lawson

IN COSTUME: You never know who you might see at the Gulgong Henry Lawson Heritage Festival. Maybe the man himself? Photo: Simone Kurtz

IN COSTUME: You never know who you might see at the Gulgong Henry Lawson Heritage Festival. Maybe the man himself? Photo: Simone Kurtz

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More than 150 years after his birth, the words weaved by Henry Lawson about an Australia of the past still sees the man remain relevant to Australians of the present.

The Gulgong heritage festival, held in honour of the iconic, short story writer and balladist, draws people from far and wide to celebrate all things history and Henry, and this year will be running from June 8 to 11.

ON PARADE: Take a step back in time at the Henry Lawson Heritage Parade and enjoy marching bands, floats, and classic vehicles pass by. Photo: Simone Kurtz

ON PARADE: Take a step back in time at the Henry Lawson Heritage Parade and enjoy marching bands, floats, and classic vehicles pass by. Photo: Simone Kurtz

For 16 years Charles Vassel has led a dedicated group of people and businesses devoted to bringing the look and feel of days gone by to communities of today.

Mr Vassel has a long-held admiration of the bush poet’s wide range of literary works and is happy to promote Henry’s words to new audiences.

“He tells it like it is,” Mr Vassel said. “And painted a picture of the Australia of his day. Henry didn’t romanticise the world in the same way [Banjo] Paterson did. He was one of the working class and had a difficult life – being partially deaf from a very young age.”

Colourful Contribution: Children will love all that there is to see and do, including the Pavement Art Competition. Photo: Simone Kurtz

Colourful Contribution: Children will love all that there is to see and do, including the Pavement Art Competition. Photo: Simone Kurtz

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The festival is a celebration of things past, and the four-day program is packed with a range of events which will appeal to everyone from literary connoisseurs to families and children simply looking for something interesting and unique to do during the long weekend. 

“But, Lawson’s poetry is the main feature of the event,” Mr Vassel said. 

And there will be plenty of opportunities to hear his evocative works during the festival, with readings running Saturday to Monday and The Soul of a Poet showcasing songs and poems on Sunday evening (7-8.30pm). 

The festival will be launched with the Cudgegong Camera Club’s Henry Lawson Competition and Exhibition Official Opening at the CWA at 6pm.

Then at 7pm people can enjoy an evening with the Kurtz family, descendants of the original settlers, from when the Lawson family lived in Eurunderee. (Entry is a gold coin donation). 

Henry Lawson’s portfolio will also come alive in a unique way when his work is set to music at the Prince of Wales Opera House. 

New to the event this year will be a chance to step into a replica Cobb & Co stage coach and tour around town.

There will also be the street parade, markets, local produce, heritage photos, an antique watch display, pavement art competition, historic walks and the hotly contested Miners Barrow Push.

The literary awards are on 3pm Saturday and on Sunday the Gulgong Turf Club will host a country race meeting. 

  • Gulgong’s Henry Lawson Heritage Festival runs from Friday, June 8 to Monday, June 11. Google ‘Henry Lawson Heritage Festival’ for information and an extensive program of events.