History of the Awards


In 1983, Gunnedah celebrated the unveiling of a bronze statue of Dorothea Mackellar sitting side-saddle on a horse (pictured left). The statue is in ANZAC Park Gunnedah, opposite the new Mackellar Centre. The statue was the result of several years of fundraising by locals, led by post-war immigrant Mikie Maas (pictured right). Mrs Maas, upon relocation to Australia, read My Country and was deeply moved by the patriotism displayed in the poem.

greatly to the cultural development of the town. In 1983, Mrs Maas (OAM PHF), with the support of volunteer judges Rosemary Dobson and Joan Phipson and local poet Anne Bell, orchestrated the foundation of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society Inc. – the body that now hosts the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards. It comprises a volunteer committee of community members from a wide range of backgrounds.

The poetry competition has grown from 300 entries in 1984 to tens of thousands of entries each year from school students across the nation. The competition also has a dedicated following from teachers whose support is integral to its continued success.

Jean Isherwood was also deeply touched by My Country and in 1983 set herself the task of painting a series of watercolours that she hoped would reflect the beauty described in the verses. This collection can be viewed at the Mackellar Centre.


The Dorothea Mackellar statue is now one of Gunnedah’s most visited landmarks.

For the historians, the bronze statue was constructed in 1983 by a well know sculptor Dennis Adams and faces towards Kurrumbede and The Rampadells, the Mackellar family holdings in the early 20th century.

The parkland around the memorial has been developed and dedicated to the founder of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, Mrs Maas. Read more.


The Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society recently catalogued and archived their extensive records, including a collection of photographs and documents. The records have been placed in the care of Gunnedah and District Historical Society at the Water Tower Museum.