It was great to see a roll up of 15 last Sunday for our paddle on the Camden Haven River at Kendall.
The glorious weather & the landscape from the ‘Poet’s Village’ up to Logans Crossing presented us with many metaphors such as water like glass & mirror image reflections.
It was simply a beautiful day to be out on the water enjoying the scenery.
We paddle here quite frequently so I thought I would share some of the area’s, & Henry Kendall’s history.
Firstly, it is Birpai country. When European settlement commenced, Kendall was originally named Camden Heads & is one of seven villages that make up the Camden Haven District. It was re named Kendall in 1891 after the Australian poet Henry Kendall who lived in the area from 1875 until 1881 when he was the first Forest Inspector for New South Wales.
At the entrance to the village, just before the bridge, you are greeted by the Leaves of Kendall, a sculpture of three giant coloured gum leaves designed & constructed by Kendall resident Girikami Weissman. They depict a symbolic story of Kendall’s unique identity & association with timber. Each leaf is three & half metres high.
Henry Kendall ( 1839 – 1882 ) is described as an author & bush poet…the first Australian poet to draw his inspiration from the life, scenery & traditions of the country. He had a sad life as outlined in his entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Vol.5, 1974 MUP), the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia & Aussie Towns.com.au.
Thomas Henry Kendall was born in 1839 at Yatte Yattah near Milton on the south coast of NSW. His father, who was a missionary & linguist, died when he was two years old. At 17 he went to sea for two years & upon his return took up several jobs to try to help support his mother, twin brother & two sisters. He was often in debt to friends & money lenders due to their extravagances & after marrying moved to Melbourne for a period of time where he tried journalism for a living & published ‘Leaves from an Australian Forest’. After becoming unemployed he became impoverished, had issues with alcohol & spent a period of time in the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane. He suffered many personal hardships throughout his life, including the death of his first born child. In 1875 the Fagan family, who had befriended him in Gosford, provided him with work in their timber business in the Camden Haven. His health improved & in 1876 his wife & family re- joined him. In 1880 he published ‘Songs from the Mountains’ which was an outstanding success. In 1881 Henry Parkes ( ‘Father of Federation’) had him appointed Inspector of Forests in NSW, for which he was well suited given his understanding of native timbers. However, his health was such that he could not cope with the long rides in all weathers to inspect the timber reserves & he died from Phthisis ( pulmonary TB) in 1882. Several books of poems were published during his life & the Central Coast Poets Inc established the biennial Henry Kendall Poetry Award which is nationally recognised.
“Kendall was once regarded as the finest poet Australia had ever produced & he remains a true poet whose clarity & sweetness have not been excelled in the narrow lyrical field he made his own”. (Australian Dictionary of Biography) For anyone interested in reading about Kendall in more depth there is an excellent write up in poetrylibrary.edu.au under the heading ‘The Poems of Henry Kendall’.
After our paddle we had lunch at the little park just over the bridge, & the photo I took of our group having lunch shows the tall timber that must have covered much of the area in Kendall’s time.
Thanks Leon for leading this paddle.