1. The origin of the Proud Marys Society was as follows – Early July 1999 an article was found in a Qantas Magazine revealing that PL Travers would be celebrating her 100th birthday in August of that year. As two of the people reading that Article had helped a Brisbane Journalist discover PL’s real name of Helen Lyndon Goff a couple of years earlier we realised the importance of the event and one took it to her Local Maryborough Councillor. Councillor Ann Miller immediately saw the opportunities for Maryborough and with her usual aptitude for getting things done headed the introduction of the new Group to the Maryborough public (I still have that Qantas Magazine Article).
2. The Mary Poppins Group (later renamed The Proud Marys Inc as we were not allowed to use Mary Poppins when we became incorporated later that year) were originally formed to recognise Maryborough as the birthplace of P L Travers and celebrate her birthday on the 9th August each year.
3. 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 – hence an additional option was added under our Umbrella separate from the Committee members who were not specifically named Mary. – 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 This has now been superseded by the Mary Register which our Association funded and donated to The Story Bank for Marys, Mary derivatives and foreign language equivalents to sign.
4. The first Mary Poppins Market Day was held in September 1999 on the usual Thursday Market Day – was a huge success with Brass Bands leading a colourful parade round the Streets of Bazaar, Kent to Adelaide Street and 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. Finally the Council decided that it was too big for the markets and decided to take it under their banner completely – The Afternoon Birthday Tea was the catalyst not particularly the Mary Morning Tea which came later and was all we had left of the festival after the Council takeover – the 14 years is from when the Council took over otherwise it would be 22yrs.
Their annual morning tea was the catalyst for the Mary Poppins Festival. The Proud Marys members were also the driving force behind the Mary Poppins statue, erected on Richmond Street in 2005 outside of the author’s birthplace.
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.