Closeted by red gums on the banks of the Rocky River in the slopes of the southern Flinders Ranges, Laura is the boyhood home of celebrated poet C.J. Dennis whose father hosted the Beetaloo Reservoir Hotel from 1892 to 1910.
Although Banjo Paterson’s outback classic, The Man from Snowy River, is venerated in Aussie folklore, urban poetry doesn’t enjoy the same level of adoration, but there is no doubt that Dennis’s Sentimental Bloke struck a chord with his rhyming slang verse about the larrikin and his girl friend Doreen.
Published in 1915 when the nation was grieving for the dead who fell at Gallipoli, The Sentimental Bloke sold more than 50,000 copies in the first nine months and was subsequently released in NZ, the UK, Canada and the US.
Laura remembers its favourite son with a sculpture outside goldsmith Richard Ivey’s store. After presiding over the administration of justice for 90 years, the local court house closed its doors to lawyers and malefactors in 1968. It is now headquarters for the Rocky River Historical and Art Society and is used as a gallery during the two-day Laura Folk Fair which attracts thousands into the small ranges town every April.