THE best kept secret in Orange is finally getting the profile it deserves as poet Banjo Paterson’s links to the city are promoted.
It has long been known locally that AB Paterson was born on the outskirts of Orange, and while the debate continues over whether he was born in the weatherboard cottage that has been relocated to the botanic gardens, or nearby, what is not disputed is that Orange was his birthplace.
When we look at the connection that Gulgong has forged with Paterson’s great contemporary, Henry Lawson, it is easy to see the potential for Orange to add Banjo Paterson’s birthplace to its attractions for tourists.
Until recently the Banjo Paterson experience would have been limited to visiting a rather uninspiring paddock on the Ophir Road.
In 2002 the metal Paterson chair with its talking book was unveiled near the visitor information centre, but overall the celebration of Paterson’s birth here and the legacy of his poetry has been pretty poor.
To its credit the council has got moving on the project to erect a suitable monument to Paterson now that Emmaville cottage is being preserved beside the botanic gardens.
The chosen design may not suit everyone, but the classic bronze statue of Paterson seated on a bench should endure.
There is more of the Banjo Paterson story to tell and the restoration of Emmaville cottage will go some way to doing that, but ultimately, like the Dalton family, Paterson’s life and legacy should be displayed in a city museum.
Here visitors could come and learn, before heading off around Orange and environs to see the tangible pieces of the city’s heritage.
With Nationals’ candidate for Calare John Cobb refusing to say whether a Coalition government would honour Labor’s museum funding offer, writing the final chapter in the Paterson saga may be some way off yet.