National Library of Australia

Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River

A.B. (Banjo) Paterson (1864–1941)Draft version of The Man from Snowy River, 1895

bound manuscript; 35.3 x 24.0cm

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Draft version of The Man from Snowy River, 1895

Few Australians cannot recite part of Banjo Paterson’s immortal ballad, The Man from Snowy River, even if it’s only the first six words of the opening stanza: ‘There was movement at the station’.

The epic pursuit of the valuable colt from old Regret epitomises the way in which many urbanised Australians would like to see themselves: showing grit and determination, willing to have a go against the odds, and barracking for the underdog.

Arguably Australia’s most famous poem, The Man from Snowy River was first published in The Bulletin in April 1890. The manuscript featured here was probably prepared for publication by Angus & Robertson five years later as the title poem of The Man from Snowy River, and Other Verses.

A.B. (‘Banjo’) Paterson (1864–1941) spent much of his early years in the Yass district of New South Wales, where he first witnessed the skills of the horsemen of the Kosciuszko country.

Paterson always maintained the poem was an invention, based upon the cleaning up of wild horses in his district.

But Paterson’s denial has not prevented surrounding districts claiming the Man as their own.