Aussie towns engaged in fierce war over Mary Poppins creator's legacy

Posted By: Devaki
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London, July 11 (ANI): Two Aussie towns are locked in a tussle over claims to the legacy of actress-novelist Pamela Travers, the creator of the mystical nanny Mary Poppins.

Maryborough, on the south east coast of Queensland, Australia, has been playing host to a Mary Poppins festival for several years in the honour of the versatile Travers, who was born in the town in 1899.

The five-day event attracts a large number of tourists to the region during the quiet winter months to enjoy Poppins-themed activities like nanny races, umbrella-decorating and kite-making.

But this year festival organisers have been left fuming by plans for a New South Wales town to hold a rival event.

Bowral in the southern Highlands outside Sydney is planning to organise a Mary Poppins Birthplace Centenary Celebration at the end of July.

Travers and her family moved to the town in 1907 after the death of her father and organisers of the event claim she devised the character of Mary Poppins while she was living there.

According to festival coordinator Paul McShane, Travers' private correspondence shows she had first told her young sisters stories of a "magical flying creature" called M Poppins on a stormy night in Bowral in 1910. Travers, aged about 11 at the time, created the character in a bid to comfort her sisters, after their mother rushed out of the house threatening to drown herself, he said.

Maryborough mayor Mick Kruger said the story could not be substantiated but "we know for sure that Pamela Travers was born in Maryborough".

Mel Evans, events organiser at Fraser council, said the Maryborough festival, which was first organised in 1999, was the original, the biggest and the best.

"We don't discredit the fact that PL Travers lived in Bowral, but we are the founders of the festival," The Telegraph quoted Evans, as saying.

She added: "This is her birthplace and we have recognised her for many years."

However, McShane believes Bowral has a greater claim to the author's creative legacy.

He said: "She was born in Maryborough but she left there when she was three and spent far longer in Bowral.

"Where you are born is an accident of history, but I don't think the character Mary Poppins would have come about if she hadn't had the experiences that she had while she was in Bowral.

"Mary Poppins is about a dysfunctional family, with an absent father and a distracted mother.

"All of these issues were encapsulated by her time here." (ANI)

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