Bards of Binalong

Robyn with Banjo Paterson, as he stands in Pioneer Park in Binalong.

Robyn with Banjo Paterson, as he stands in Pioneer Park in Binalong.

There is something about Binalong and the picturesque district surrounding the village that inspires poets.

From the ages of 7-10, the young Barty Paterson (later known as Banjo) rode his pony the few miles from Illalong, the property his father managed, to the public school at Binalong (in Camden Street). He continued his education in Sydney, but returned to Illalong for holidays.

His book Illalong Children says, “In later life he always regarded Illalong as the home of his boyhood, and his memories of life there were very clear. It was here that he first grew to love the Australian bush, the country life, and the bush characters which were to form the main themes in his poetry and prose.”

Successive generations have kept the tradition of Banjo Paterson alive, with the sadly missed Bubbles Garry and Adrian Sykes among those who would break into poetry at community events, concerts, parties, picnics and more. In more recent times Robyn Sykes, Australian Women’s Bush Poetry Performance Champion, and George Elliot have continued the tradition.

In the 1980s Binalong hosted the Binalong Banjo Paterson Prize, a written competition which featured a renowned presentation ceremony in the Binalong Court House.

In 2013, the Binalong Mechanics Institute was packed for a bush poetry performance competition, the Binalong Banjo Paterson Bush Poetry Prize.

Now in 2014, all poets, poetry lovers and supporters are welcome in Binalong on September 12-14 for the Binalong Bush Poetry Prize and NSW Bush Poetry Championships. We’d love to see you there!