Sitting at the impressive polished table in the School of Arts building in the New England town of Tenterfield, I wondered just how this remote country town, straddling the train line between Sydney and Brisbane, became a crucial link in Australia’s journey to nationhood.
I discovered it has to do with one strong-minded man – Henry Parkes. Right where I was sitting was the spot from which the feisty, five-time Premier of NSW first gave a rousing speech, which he then repeated fifteen times in other locations. This gave serious momentum to the push for federating the six states. Professor Marie Bashir, the recent Governor of this state, declared “…his stirring words of exhortation and unity to the crowd of citizens who loved him – ‘One people, one destiny’ – will continue to inspire.”
As I travel, I look out for the stories and symbols that shape us Aussies. Observers say that during the first few years of our lives as we learn to talk, to read, to share in the common story of our people, we’re quietly absorbing a worldview.
Normally we’re not conscious of it. It’s like the lenses of our glasses, it is not something we look at, but something through which we look in order to see the world. On the road to Gundagai, I discovered a faithful hound, a popular song and an inspirational sculptor that had all played a part in telling us about ourselves.
He’s been dubbed ‘the historian of the Australian Soul.’ Walking the streets of the Rocks area with Professor Stuart Piggin, poking down alleys full of history, READ MORE...
Community Access Radio Station 2WEB was barely a year old when I stepped into the Bourke studio in 1979. In those early days the name Western Educational Broadcasting meant you could surprise the outback audience with almost anything. The Brekky program with a unlikely mix of Slim Dusty, the Beatles, a community announcement about a lost dog with 3 legs, one eye, answering to the name of ‘Lucky’, followed by the BBC News, then climaxing with Let’s Learn Japanese and poetry readings from Geoffrey Chaucer. No complaints about variety!
It's been a busy couple of months!
In February something dawned on me listening to John Dixon in St Phillip's church in Sydney reviving the moment when words from the Bible were read out on Australian soil for the very first time. READ MORE...
An easy home-leg to complete the 1200km circuit. Quiet reflection, murmured conversation, a pause in the windmill town of Gilgandra - the starting point for the Co-ee Recruitment March of 1915. OJ Rushton told of organising the 500 km Kangaroo March in 2018 from Wagga to Sydney, which roused Australians to READ MORE...
Without really knowing it, we’d been riding with Banjo Patterson’s drover Clancy these last few days, across ‘sunlit plains extended’ and in the marshes ‘about the Overflow where the reed beds sweep and sway.’ From Coonamble we were steadily advancing eastwards on the rugged Warumbungle ranges - Gamilaroi country. Volcanic outcrops filled the windscreen READ MORE...
Bruce Feiler, a man who took a recent pilgrimage across the Middle East in the steps of Abraham, said the big thing that happened to him on his quest was that ‘my learning went from my head to my feet...the big transformation was being on the land...and finding the story in the geography itself.’ That’s precisely what was happening to READ MORE..
The pilgrimage took on the nature of a sentimental journey today. Actually, it started the night before when Colin Buchanan took time to talk to Russell and Robert’s grandchildren live on their phones. Distance shrank and two grandfathers shed tears of joy - the ink READ MORE...
Out past the old North Bourke Bridge Jen Greentree’s gallery opened the eyes of our pilgrims to the moods and colours of the Outback. She paints stories of hope in ochres and blues, to defy the thinking that this is God-forsaken country. Later in the day they saw READ MORE...
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.