Celebrated Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar dies

Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar is perhaps best remembered for her patriotic poem, ‘My Country’, with her second verse arguably among the most recognised in Australian poetry – “I love a sunburnt country, /A land of sweeping plains, /of ragged mountain ranges, /of drought and flooding rains”. Born on 1 July 1885 at her family home Dunara in Sydney’s Point Piper, Mackellar was the third of four children and the only daughter of physician Sir Charles Kinnaid Mackellar and his wife Marion. Mackellar was fluent in several European languages and enjoyed overseas travel, politics, acting, side saddle horse riding and swimming. She began writing early in her youth with ‘My Country’ written when she was just 19 years old. Mackellar went on to write several poems and novels, although ‘My Country’ remained her most well known. Mackellar was believed to have been engaged twice although she never eventually married, spending her time caring instead for her aging parents. It is said that her literary output suffered following her father’s passing in 1926. Mackellar, described by literary historian H.M. Green as a “lyrist of colour and light” was bestowed the O.B. E shortly before her death on 14 January 1968 at the Scottish Hospital in Paddington, Sydney. Her poem ‘Colour’, which she regarded her best work, was read at her funeral service before she was cremated. Her ashes are interred at the Mackellar family vault in the Waverley Cemetery in Sydney.