Henry Lawson’s Como connection celebrated

Happy birthday, Henry: Bob Walshe, centre, with members of the Como Henry Lawson Appreciation Group, Jenny Watson and Chris Sim at Henry Lawson Reserve, Como. Picture: Chris Lane
Happy birthday, Henry: Bob Walshe, centre, with members of the Como Henry Lawson Appreciation Group, Jenny Watson and Chris Sim at Henry Lawson Reserve, Como. Picture: Chris Lane

The 150th birthday of the legendary Australian poet Henry Lawson will be celebrated in Sutherland Shire with readings, music and a folk festival.

Henry Lawson was born on June 17, 1867 at Grenfell in western New South Wales and grew up in Gulgong, the town that featured on Australia’s old ten-dollar note.

A young Henry Lawson.

A young Henry Lawson.

And while the main celebrations will centre on these two towns, Sutherland Shire, particularly Como, also has a role to play in remembering Lawson.

Lawson came to Como many times, staying in a fisherman’s shack on the Woronora River side of Como.

His association with the suburb has been acknowledged through the naming of Henry Lawson Reserve in Wolger Street.

Como was the venue of the Henry Lawson Festival in 1950s which was run by Jannali resident Bob Walshe.

While the festival is no longer held, the memory of Lawson and his association with the suburb is kept alive by the Como Henry Lawson Appreciation Group which meets at the Como Hotel on the second Sunday of each month where they recite Lawson’s poetry and prose. 

The Como Henry Lawson Appreciation Group is organising two events to celebrate Lawson’s 150th birthday.

There will be a commemoration of Henry Lawson at the Sutherland Library on Saturday, June 17 at 10am.

This will be a low-key event so as not to conflict with the main commemorations at Grenfell and Gulgong on the day.

The group will hold its own Henry Lawson Festival at the Como Public School on Saturday, July 8 including readings, music and live performance.

Group member Chris Sim there is a lot of documentation on Lawson’s life but not much about his time at Como as he used to go there to keep a low profile.

“After meeting some fishermen in the inner city pubs he was invited down and came to Como on and off around 1900,” he said.

“He would drink at the Como Hotel and it is believed he stayed in a fisherman’s shack near Bonnet Rock.

“People said he would always be in a rather melancholy state but because his hearing was bad he would keep to himself rather than talk to strangers.

“Henry was always looking for a place to get away from people and Como was the place he chose.”

  • Details: Jenny at jg.watson@hotmail.com.