The Festival of a Thousand Stories is a celebration of storytelling, art, poetry and music on the banks of the Darling River at Bourke.
Now in its 3rd year, the festival has grown out of Bourke’s popular Poets Trek – a two-day experience tour that takes people on a literary journey through Australia’s past in the footsteps of renowned poets Henry Lawson, Will Ogilvie and Harry ‘the Breaker’ Morant, who lived, worked and found inspiration in great, grey plains and red mulga paddocks of Bourke.
For more than 20 years, the Poets Trek has been sharing the amazing stories of Bourke’s past with visitors, but a few keen locals saw an opportunity to build on the success of the Trek and create a showcase event for Bourke.
So, in 2013 the Festival of a Thousand Stories was born. The name was inspired by the poem ‘Bourke’ written by local poet, the late Wilkie Davis:
Bourke, author of a thousand stories,
Told by the stockmen when the campfires gleam.
May you go on to greater, grander glories
And grow and prosper by the Darling stream.
The storytelling theme was a natural fit for Bourke. Stories have been handed down through time by the ancient custodians of the Darlgin River plains, the Ngemba people, and new tales forged by the European explorers, squatters and itinerant workers who brought their own mythologies into the harsh interior of Australia.
When Henry Lawson stepped off the train in 1892 he found in Bourke a microcosm of adolescent Australia during those turbulent years leading up to Federation, which he immortalised in the famous lines “If you know Bourke, you know Australia”?.
Today, in Bourke you can still see glimpses of the Australia that Lawson and his fellow poets captured in their writings, but more than that you will find the vibrant, living culture of the modern outback that is inspiring a new generation of writers, musician and artists.
The Festival of a Thousand Stories is a celebration of the many tales that have etched ‘the back o’ Bourke’ forever into the Australian psyche.