If anyone saw Henry Lawson walking around Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park at Walloon recently, or having a drink at the Rosewood Hotel, they may have thought they were seeing a ghostly image. But their eyes were not deceiving them as ‘Henry Lawson’ was in town. Local Cr David Pahlke attended the Henry Lawson Festival in Gulgong earlier this year and that festival put the councillor’s mind in overdrive. “I met ‘Henry Lawson’ in person while I was there and I was quick to invite him back to Ipswich,” David said. He added with his trademark grin, “No not the real Henry Lawson as he is not alive but at the festival an actor called James Howard impersonated Henry Lawson and I was Impressed.
“When I invited him to come to Ipswich to be a part of our Poetry Feast celebrations ‘Henry’ was quick to accept.” He said he attended the festival to bring back some ideas that he may incorporate into the Henry Lawson links to the Walloon area. “I have to say I didn’t expect to bring Henry Lawson home with me” During the festival ‘Henry’ preformed Henry Lawson’s well known poem ‘The Loaded Dog’. David then took Henry on a tour of the local landmarks relating to the poem, ‘The Babies of Walloon’, that gave birth to the Ipswich Poetry Feast and the refurbishment of the Walloon Park to recognise the poet’s links to the region. “We first went to the place where Bridget and Mary Broderick drowned. “it was interesting as ‘Henry’ spent quite a while just gazing in refection across the waterhole, at the one white waterlily in flower and it was easy to imagine I had stepped back in time, to the 1890’s, as he was in full Henry Lawson garb and mindset,” David explained.
He said that ‘Henry’ did not say too much as they headed to the park to view the Babies of Walloon statue and read the words of the poet surrounding the mosaic base. “while I was fully aware that he was an actor, I really believed that he was absorbing something of the real Henry Lawson as he read the words of the poet on the restroom doors. “And he was quite keen to have his photo taken beside the bronzed bust of Henry Lawson at the lectern.” David knew ‘Henry’ enjoyed a drop of ale so the duo retired to a waterhole of a different type, the Rosewood Hotel, for a quiet drink to end the journey.
“So yes if you thought you saw Henry Lawson moving around the town, you did,” David said with a smile.