HUNDREDS of history and poetry enthusiasts will take advantage of a rare opportunity to explore the grounds of the Kurrumbede homestead near Gunnedah when it opens its doors to the public on Saturday.
The property, famously owned by the family of poet Dorothea Mackellar, will be open to onlookers for the first time, thanks to a joint initiative between the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society and Whitehaven Coal.
The society's president Philippa Murray said there has been "phenomenal interest" in the day, which has been heavily backed by the Gunnedah and wider New England community.
"We've had excellent interest from locals and great coverage across the media which has helped create interest," she said.
It will be free to enter the grounds, which will be alive with local singers, food and market stalls and stilt-walkers dressed in Edwardian period clothing.
Those attending are being given the option to dress in clothing from the Edwardian era, with a dress-up competition and prizes for the best costume.
There will also be guided tours, sulky rides, shearing demonstrations, recitals from local poets and a photo booth. Visitors are welcome to bring a chair, picnic rug and a picnic basket to sit on the grounds.
A Whitehaven Coal spokesperson said it will be running courtesy buses to and from Kurrumbede, but visitors can also travel in their own private vehicle, with plenty of parking available on the day.
The buses will commence running at 10am from the Mackellar Centre, Gunnedah, situated at the old Visitor Information Centre across from town pool in Anzac Park.
You must book your spot in advance for the bus, and can do so by clicking here.
"Whitehaven acquired the 6880-acre property ten years ago, as part of a transaction which was concluded around our Vickery Extension Project," the spokesperson said.
"So we haven't been the long-term owners of it, prior to that it was in private hands and very much closed off from the community, despite the community having an awareness of it."
As part of the public hearings into the Victory Extension Project, Whitehaven made a public commitment to the homestead's ongoing preservation and to opening the property up periodically for open days and events.
"We've had a relationship with the poetry society for a few years now which started initially around discussions about how we would administer a $500,000 commitment that we announced a few years ago to upgrade the gardens at Kurrumbede," the spokesperson continued.
"The project was delayed by drought... we have still been progressing various elements of that in the background while simultaneously progressing towards this community open day first which has involved considerable time and resources from us to get the property up to a condition where we can host hundreds of people over the course of a few hours.
"We are aware that there is a lot of interest, I'm not sure how many people we will get on the day but I'm anticipating at least a few hundred.
"Considering that this has featured in the consciousness of poetry lovers in North West NSW for a while, it's only natural that they're curious about what it looks like."
The open day runs from 10am to 3pm on Saturday June 12 at the Kurrumbede homestead on 1693 Blue Vale Road, Blue Vale.