Maryborough celebrates its unique connection to Mary Poppins through author and storyteller P.L.Travers, the festival is believed to be the first in the world to celebrate Mary Poppins and the success of her creator.
The annual festival celebrates the magical art of storytelling and its ability to transport you to a world full of imagine and possibilities.
THE ORIGIN OF THE PROUD MARYS SOCIETY
Proud Mary’s History by founding member Ann O’Loughlin.
Early July 1999 an article was found in a Qantas Magazine revealing that P.L. Travers would be celebrating her 100th birthday in August of that year. Two of the people reading that article had helped a Brisbane-based journalist discover P.L.’s real name of Helen Lyndon Goff a couple of years earlier, realised the importance of the event and one took it to her local Maryborough Councillor. Councillor Anne Miller immediately saw the opportunities for Maryborough and with her aptitude for getting things done headed the introduction of the new group to the Maryborough public.
The Mary Poppins Group (later renamed The Proud Marys Inc) were originally formed to recognise Maryborough as the birthplace of P L Travers and celebrate her birthday on the 9th August each year.
At the first “Birthday Afternoon Tea” in August 1999 it was suggested that we also recognise women or men with the Christian name of Mary or the derivatives. The Mary name Registration Index operated for many years with each “Mary” paying an initial $5 to receive a Birthday Card and an annual Invitation to a Morning Tea on Festival Day. This has now been superseded by the Mary Register which our Association funded and donated to The Story Bank for Marys, Mary derivatives and foreign language equivalents to sign.
The first Mary Poppins Market Day was held in September 1999 on the weekly Thursday Market Day with Brass Bands leading a colourful parade round the Streets of Bazaar, Kent to Adelaide Street. The Author of PL Travers biography flew in from Sydney to launch her book “Out of the Sky She Came”. This special market day occurred for a number of years with different themes for each year with a Sydney Company coming to film the festival two years running and the generosity of the business community helped to make each year a success. The event quickly outgrew the markets and became a standalone event in 2007 with the very first Mary Poppins Festival now in the June/July school holidays. The Proud Mary’s Afternoon Birthday Tea continued as the Mary Morning Tea within the festival.
Maryborough, Queensland has a unique link to the world’s most famous nanny that no other place in the world can claim. It is the birthplace of Mary Poppins author Pamela Lyndon Travers, whose beloved novels were brilliantly adapted for the popular Disney movie of the same name and the award-winning musical.
Pamela Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough on 9 August 1899 to parents Margaret and Robert Goff. Helen’s father was the manager of the Australian Joint Stock Bank, and she was born in a bedroom of the second storey residence of the building in Kent Street.
After spending the first few years of her life in Maryborough, her family moved to Brisbane then Ipswich, Allora, Bowral and then Sydney.
In Sydney, Helen began a career as a dancer and an actress appearing mainly in Shakespearean plays in Australia and New Zealand. At the age of 25 Helen moved to England seeking literary fame and fortune, adopting the name P.L Travers for her writing. Travers is credited with writing
Mary Poppins is one of those stories from our childhood that never fails to elicit joy and insights into who we are.
Each of the charming and fanciful Poppins tales is full of life lessons and perceptions, shared in a way that people of all ages can absorb.
Good stories always have the power to transform how we view the world. They affirm who we are, where we come from and where we hope to go.
Parents and grandparents teach us through stories. Our place in the world is understood through the memories held in our stories.
PL Travers understood that sharing stories is a powerful way of connecting with others, as well as cultivating a rich cultural heritage.
Helen Lyndon Goff (Known as P.L. Travers) was born in Maryborough, Queensland on 9 August in the bank manager’s residence, which was on the second storey of the building on the corner of Richmond and Kent Street.
Travers writes the first Mary Poppins book, which was a great success from the start. She goes on to write another seven books in the series, the last one in 1988. Mary Shepherd is the illustrator throughout the series.
Proud Marys Association was formed to celebrate P.L. Travers's 100th birthday. The group’s goal was to raise the profile of Maryborough as the birthplace of P.L. Travers. They were the driving force behind the Mary Poppins statue and their annual Mary Morning Tea on the Town Hall Green at City Hall became the catalyst for today’s festival.
A generous benefactor and ensuring public donations saw the project realised. The bronze statue was sculpted by noted artist, Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM and officially unveiled on 9 August.
The very first Mary Poppins Festival is held and continues to this day every year on the June/July school holidays. Maryborough embraces everything Poppins.
P.L. Travers Bank of Stories opens to the public. The heritage-listed Australian Joint Stock Bank and birthplace of P.L. Travers is opened as an exciting new attraction, designed to encourage the art of storytelling and inspire us to continue to create and share stories.