I had the immense privilege of giving the keynote address at this year's Dorothea MacKellar Poetry Awards in Gunnedah. We ended up making a family trip of the event and brought Ash and the boys along to spend some time with cousins in Uralla as well.
My many congratulations to all the students who were listed in the Presentation Booklet (click to view) and had their poems published, possibly for the first time. This year the competition saw 6000 entries from across the country from Kindergarten to Year 12. In its 38th year, the Awards are the nations largest and longest running, so it was very special to be able to speak to the students, their teachers and parents, and the attending dignitaries on the importance of poetry in our daily lives. I've attached a copy of the PPT from my speech here, which covers a range of quotes and ideas from the speech. The smaller details of the speech are missing, but I'm glad I was able to share my love of poetry with the audience on the day.
Thank you to the committee, especially President Pip Murray for inviting me and for being so warm in her appreciation for my recent work and successes. I was very glad to share a few copies of my new collection Waterlines with some of the attendees.
It was a cool and wet day in Gunnedah for the awards, so it felt much like home in Robertson. But, everyone was in high spirits and the country community was alive around the awards. There were special performances by some of the students from local schools, messages of support from the State and Federal Education Ministers (some who were in attendance), and not to be outshone, the wonderful readings from the winners themselves.
The day was also made more special by the chance to catch up with my friends Alex Wharton and Dave Carter who are the Principal and Head of Secondary at Carinya Christian School respectively. I've worked with both Dave and Alex over the years, in various capacities, and it was a great chance to catch up out west and to celebrate all the wonderful work teachers and school leaders do for their local communities.
The boys loved the trip too and they had some very special moments being shown around their cousins and Auntie and Uncle's farms. There was tractor riding, quad biking, feeding of the potty lambs, and remote control car driving, along with some wonderful time with family.
We can't wait to get back out there.