The township of Cunnamulla was immortalised in a poem penned by Stan Coster and sung by another fella called Slim Dusty. The song in question was called The Cunnamulla Fella and it pays tribute to our region’s pastoral heritage and the stockmen of the time.
During the fifties and sixties, Australia was riding on the sheep’s back. Wool was pound for pound and cattle were literally worth their weight in gold. The Paroo Shire was booming with large properties employing hundreds of men, who worked from sun up to sun down in the Outback mustering, chasing scrubbers (beasts that get lost in scrub country and are difficult to muster) and breaking in horses.
When the stockmen came to town, the pubs would overflow and young fellas could be seen squatting around the streets of Cunnamulla in a pose that became legendary.
It was around this time that Coster penned ‘The Cunnamulla Fella’.
“Well I’m a scrubber runner and a breaker too…
I live on damper and wallaby stew.
I’ve got a big cattle dog and a staghound cross…
I never saw a scrubber that we couldn’t toss.
Yes, I’m the Cunnamulla Fella.”
A legacy comes to life…
The idea to immortalise the legend of the Cunnamulla Fella came about in 2003 when a nation-wide competition was launched inviting artists to portray their vision of the fella in any medium. The winner would go on to have their artwork transformed into a large scale bronze statue, which would take pride of place in the main street of Cunnamulla.
More than fifty entries poured in from around Australia. The winner, Michael Nicholas, a respected environmental painter from Brisbane, produced a sketch of a young stockman squatting after a hard day’s work in the Queensland Outback.
Fittingly, Michael Nicholas had strong family connections with Cunnamulla and his art demonstrated his deep affinity for Australia’s desert country. He was the perfect choice. (You can ask him all about it at Cully Fest 2016 or pick up one of his original artworks – we’re pleased to say he’s one of our fabulous presenters).
Sculptor, Archie St Clair, was commissioned to produce a twice-life-size bronze statue of Nicholas’ Cunnamulla Fella. Archie, an ex helicopter pilot from the Northern Territory, learned the sculpting trade in Tamworth (NSW) after an accident forced him to give up flying. He moved to Texas in the United States to pursue his career, and it was here that the statue of the Cunnamulla came to life in bronze. The statue was shipped to Australia and was unveiled in the township on 18 November 2005.
The Cunnamulla Fella draws tourists from around the country and the annual Cunnamulla Fella Festival each November continues to pay homage to the stockmen of the era.
Heading our way? Cully Fest 2016 captures the essence of the Outback and the rich Aboriginal culture in a four-day action packed festival. We’ll even have a special rendition of The Cunnamulla Fella by local musician Jessie G. Oh, and did we mention rock legends, The Angels, will be headlining?
Check out our official Cully Fest website for:
*The didgeridoo workshop is free. If you want to take your didge that you made home, it will cost $70 to take it away. Food and Beverage, souvenirs and accommodation are not included in the festival price.