Tanya Dupagne has established Camp Kulin, providing a haven and a learning environment for 1500 mostly disadvantaged children a year.

Story and photo Chris Thomson    

From its Tin Horse Highway lined with garish metal nags that celebrate its annual bush races, to the red and yellow paint adorning its local museum, Kulin is a colourful kind of place. But when Tanya Dupagne arrived from Perth in 2012, with the aim of establishing a camp for kids, few locals could have imagined the richness of cultural colour she would soon bring to the small Wheatbelt town.

“It’s not a very multicultural town,” Tanya says, sipping a softdrink at the Kulin Hotel, which was placed on the local shire’s heritage list for its exceptional cultural significance. “But for us to start bringing in people from all different cultures, people have been very receptive to it.”

In 2013, Tanya founded Camp Kulin in a modest building at the northern end of the town’s main street, after the shire convinced her to relocate from the state capital. “In the past 12 months, we’ve had kids from 184 towns across WA, who’ve come from as far away as Broome, Newman, Carnarvon in the north and Esperance and Albany in the south,” she says.

It is largely for her work with children who’ve survived trauma that she was named 2017 Rural Woman of the Year at a ceremony held at Parliament House in Canberra in September.

This story excerpt is from Issue #116

Outback Magazine: December/January 2018