IF YOU wanted to drive to Talbingo NSW, the birthplace of great Australian novelist Miles Franklin, it would take you a good three hours. First you’d have to head south along the Monaro Highway to Cooma, then back north-west on the Snowy Mountains Highway, around the back of the Brindabellas until you reach the tiny township of Talbingo, population 240.
A drive to Goulburn would take you one hour, and a drive to Brindabella Station to the west of Canberra, an hour and 40 minutes (according to Google Maps).
Why the little geography lesson? Because these are the places great Australian writer Miles Frankin was born and raised! And why should Queanbeyan readers be especially interested in Miles Franklin? Well her photo is sitting in our cultural gallery, alongside local arts luminaries like internationally renowned ceramicist Hiroe Swen, academy award-nominated animator Ben Snow, playwright Tommy Murphy, Australian Ballet dancer Dimity Azoury. The list goes on. There are 20 very talented people in the cultural gallery, but only 19 of them have strong links to Queanbeyan.
The extra is Ms Franklin, who gets her spot because Brindabella Sation- where she lived until age nine- was in the Queanbeyan jurisdiction at the time she was born in October, 1879. It’s a pretty long bow to draw we think.
We’re not out to kick the cultural gallery, because it’s a great addition to the town and much deserved recognition for the artistic talent Queanbeyan has produced. And Queanbeyan has produced a lot of genuine cultural and creative leaders worth celebrating.
But Queanbeyan didn’t produce Miles Franklin and has no meaningful claim to her whatsoever .
Including her in the cultural gallery looks desperate at best, and is misleading at worst.
Imagine tourists stopping by the Gallery and coming away with the impression that Miles Franklin was actually from Queanbeyan. What if they already knew- or later found out- that she wasn’t? What would their opinion be of the Cultural Honours Gallery, of Queanbeyan itself?
And why, when there are so many high cultural achievers here already, did curators feel the need to inject a big name attraction from another town?