Banjo Paterson Festival 2019 celebrates Australian poetry, writing

BANJO'S LEGACY: Rotary Club of Orange Banjo Paterson Poetry Competition coordinator Len Banks. Photo: TANYA MARSCHKE
BANJO'S LEGACY: Rotary Club of Orange Banjo Paterson Poetry Competition coordinator Len Banks. Photo: TANYA MARSCHKE

Towns across central west, NSW will come together this weekend to celebrate beloved Australian poet, Banjo Paterson during a week long festival.

The sixth annual Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival will offer many events to the wider community, including a poets brunch at Yeoval and markets at Orange.

The 2019 festival will run for eight days, from February 17 to 24, and aims to broaden its appeal with the introduction of a poetry brawl, more theatre and performance and a festival dinner hosted in Molong.​

Banjo Paterson was born on the property ‘Narrambla’ in the Orange region in New South Wales on February 17, 1864.

From here he founded his love of the Australian landscape and grew up to become one of Australia’s literary legends.

Caddie Marshall general manager of Orange360, which is a joint regional tourism venture between Orange City Council, Blayney Shire Council and Cabonne Council, said she can see the festival evolving in years to come.

“It’s growing from Australian poetry to Australian storytelling…. I see it progressing into potentially even a folk festival as well…,” she said.

Ms Marshall said, Banjo Paterson, like Henry Lawson, were compassionate storytellers who had strong links to the land and celebrating the Australian lifestyle.

“Banjo, when he was writing was quite contemporary. He was a republican and wanted to push people’s thinking. He questioned people and the thought of the day,” she said.

Ms Marshall believes Banjo’s writing still resonates today because he wrote about the land and its people.

“And even after 150 years the lifestyle still resonates,” she said. “Particularly for us out here, we are so connected to the land.”

One of the biggest events of the competition will be the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Competition on Saturday, 23.

“We get people who come from all over Australia. Last year we had a couple of people come down from Brisbane,” Ms Marshall said.

The competition has different categories to cater for novices, open and school aged.

For the first time the Molong Advancement Group will host a Banjo Paterson Festival dinner on Saturday, February 23.

Ms Marshall gave a special mention to the Rotary Club of Orange for their work and organising of the festival.

“They’re the ones that keep the passion alive,” she said.

For more information on the festival please visit www.orange360.com.au