This colourful, quirky festival is held in honour of the Maryborough-born author of Mary Poppins, Pamela Travers, whose story was brought to life recently in the Disney production, Saving Mr Banks.
Young actress Annie Buckley who starred as the young Travers in the biopic, alongside Hollywood heavyweights Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell and Rachel Griffiths, will be guest of honour at the Mary Poppins Festival.
The 12 year old Penrith schoolgirl beat hundreds of Australian girls to win a role in the film which chronicles Pamela Travers’ early years growing up in Maryborough and the Darling Downs and her negotiations with Walt Disney for movie rights to her famous stories.
Fraser Coast Opportunities Events Manager Kim Griffith said it was exciting for Maryborough to continue its association with Disney and have the spotlight continue to shine on the region as a result of Saving Mr Banks.
“We were lucky to negotiate with Disney for an exclusive screening of Saving Mr Banks to be shown in Maryborough and now we have one of the young stars of the movie adding to fun and magic of our world famous festival,” Ms Griffith said.
Annie will join in a program of ‘practically perfect’ events held as part of the week-long Mary Poppins Festival, which includes art exhibitions, theatre performances, a “Mary Market” and the feature event, the” Mary Poppins Festival in the Park” on Sunday 6 July.
The Festival in the Park is staged outside the heritage-listed building where the author was born and spills into its historic port precinct and riverside parks.
Cannons are fired, chimney sweeps dance, nannies race, umbrellas are everywhere and magic is in the air as these heritage settings are transformed into Cherry Tree Lane of the Poppins novels.
Themed characters such as Admiral Boom and the bird lady come to life and there are Mary Poppins and vintage themed activities including sidewalk art, a grand costume parade, arty umbrellas, circus performers and roaming street theatre.
Children’s workshops filled with hands-on, creative sessions involving mazes, puppets, wearable art, juggling balls and traditional games are part of the day’s activities. Festival goers can also jump on-board replica and miniature steam trains and see outstanding historical collections including vintage cars and motorbikes.
Ms Griffith said no-one is sure if Pamela Travers named her famous character after her birthplace but it is just one of many curious little similarities between Maryborough and the Mary Poppins stories.
Travers was born in 1899 in the top floor of a Kent Street bank building where her father was the manager- just like Mr Banks, the father in the original Disney movie, and the inspiration for the latest Disney offering.
This glorious old bank building and the grand old park near her home remain virtually unchanged from her childhood days.
Over the years, Maryborough’s Mary Poppins obsession has grown and these settings and the city’s stunning heritage streetscapes are creatively used as a glorious backdrop for the mad cap festival, and a number of other “practically perfect” Mary Poppins themed experiences, available year round.
“We are very proud of the fact that the creator of the world’s most famous nanny was born in Maryborough on the beautiful Fraser Coast where - just like in the novels – people can discover magical, timeless, fun and naturally-perfect adventures.’’
A quirky Magical Mary Trail takes visitors on an enchanting journey to discover intriguing parallels between the novels and the author’s birthplace.
A statue of Mary Poppins, based on the illustrations in the novels, stands proudly outside Travers’ heritage-listed birthplace. The birthplace is just a short stroll to an idyllic heritage-listed riverside park which has remarkable similarities to the park which features heavily in the author’s novels and original Disney movie.
A “Tea with Mary” tour offers visitors the chance to have their own Mary Poppins themed character as their guide as they unlock Mary Poppins connections, discover amazing heritage and enjoy a tea party in a heritage-listed cafe.
A time cannon is fired in the city, a tradition that continues from a time before Travers was born, while murals and public art celebrate and explore scenes from the novels.
For details on the Mary Poppins Festival go to www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au.
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