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Saturday, 9 May 2009

Grenfell’s Australiana festival caters to the arts

By Darren Stones

Come witness poetry reading by the duelling poets dressed in period costume whilst enjoying billy tea and damper by the crackling log fire this winter at the historic site where famous Australian poet Henry Lawson was born on 17 June 1867.

The central NSW country town of Grenfell will proudly conduct its 52nd Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend from Wednesday 3 June to Monday 8 June 2009.

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Street performer in the procession during the 2008 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts
Photo: Darren Stones


The annual Festival of Arts exposes Grenfell to a national audience and sets out to encourage new talent, says festival photography exhibition coordinator Tim Wood.

Wood said the benefits of conducting the festival are good for community spirit and it puts Grenfell on the map as a place to visit annually.

“Every friend and family member we have had here for the festival has loved it,” said Wood.

“They think it is amazing that such a little town can put on such a big show.”

Wood, from Grenfell, is on the festival committee that coordinates activities which provides artists the opportunity to exhibit their talent and meet like-minded people.

This year’s official guest is well-known Australian stage and screen actor Max Cullen. Cullen was awarded a Logie in 1984 for best supporting actor in the television mini-series The Last Bastion. He also appeared in the Australian drama programs Skippy, The Flying Doctors, Matlock and A Country Practice.

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Street procession during the 2008 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts
Photo: Darren Stones


Four bronze statuettes sculptured by Michael Mandelc will be awarded for excellence to the major winners at the awards dinner at the Grenfell Bowling Club on Saturday 6 June, 2009. The winners and their partners will be invited as guests to receive their awards during the entertaining evening.

Events during the festival will include; street procession, official opening, busking, car and bike show, concert, art and craft exhibition, photography exhibition, guinea pig races, verse and short story, children’s art and writing competitions and various rides.

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Canobolas Highland Pipe Band. Street procession during the 2008 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts
Photo: Darren Stones


Poetry on the Boards will be at a new venue this year. The historic and well-maintained Grenfell Railway Station will provide poets the opportunity to recite or read poetry to an audience. The scene is destined to be picturesque with wool bales provided for seating, and tea, coffee and scones available.

Wood said the festival is an opportunity for people to come home to Grenfell and catch up with their families and enjoy the long weekend of festivities.

“Most of them bring a friend home with them,” he said.

“With all the people in town, the local businesses do their best trade of the year.”

Main Street permanently acknowledges previous festival guests with plaques in the Walk of Fame. Celebrities recognised include: actor Leonard Teale, television presenter Steve Liebmann, actor Garry McDonald, actor Lorraine Bayley, broadcaster Alan Jones and cricketer Geoff Lawson.

Whilst visiting Grenfell, discover the attractions and learn of its history. Places of particular interest include; the Henry Lawson Obelisk which marks the site where Lawson was born, O’Brien’s Reef gold mining site which has panoramic views over the township, and the Weddin Mountains National Park. Also, keep an eye out for the giant bust of Henry Lawson located on the roundabout in Main Street on the Saturday. When not in use, the bust is hidden away in an old dusty train carriage at the railway station.

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A likeness of famous Australian poet and writer Henry Lawson. This sculpture was displayed in the main street of Grenfell during the Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts 2008.
Photo: Darren Stones


Accommodation can be scarce during the festival and don’t expect high-class resorts. The centrally located Grenfell Motel is the only motel in town and it offers basic accommodation with 20 rooms that could do with some renovating. The beaut thing about staying here is that it’s walking distance to the local pubs, and the festival procession and most activities are right at the door. 84 Main Street, Grenfell. Phone: 02 643 1333.

The Albion Hotel, established in 1866, offers low-priced home-style cooked meals in a smallish dining area. A friendly airconditioned pub located at 118 Main Street, Grenfell. Phone: 02 6343 1423.

Also, the coloured lights that criss-cross Grenfell’s main drag add an element of good old-fashioned charm to the place. Take an evening stroll after dinner to see what I mean.

Grenfell is situated 364 kilometres west of Sydney at the junction of the Mid Western Highway and Henry Lawson Way.

For more festival information, call the Weddin Shire Tourist Officer on 02 6343 2855 or visit the website at www.grenfell.org.au/henrylawsonfestival

© Darren Stones 2009
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