The Men from Snowy River
First appearing in the Bulletin on the 26th April 1890, and possibly his best known work, was A. B. (Banjo) Paterson's famous poem The Man from Snowy River. This was his 27th published poem, and is one that has stirred the minds and souls of many Australians.
Before publication, it was entitled The Man from Araluen, a small town near Goulburn in NSW. The revised ballad tells of a valuable racehorse worth a thousand pounds, escaping and joining with the wild bush horses. Champion stock riders had assembled with the intention to round up these wild horses and bring the colt back to the yards. Among them was a young lad, who hailed from Snowy River, riding "a small and woody beast". The riders set out and sighted the bush horses making for the mountaintops, but when they raced down \"the terrible descent\" there was only one who could 'hold them down the other side' The Man from Snowy River on his skinny mountain-bred horse; alone and unassisted he turned their heads for home.
Almost from the time of the poem's appearance, speculation arose as to the identity of "The Man" portrayed.
Banjo Paterson remained silent for many years to the question "who was the man from Snowy River?" until he wrote an article entitled 'Looking Backward', for the Sydney Mail, 21st December 1938, in which he claimed that he had created the character of "The Man", with qualities one would expect of someone having come from the Snowy Mountains.
"The Man from Snowy River was written to describe the cleaning up of the wild horses in our own district, which was rough enough tor most people, but not nearly as rough as they had it on the Snowy. To make any sort of a job of it I had to create a character, to imagine a man would ride better than anybody else. and where would he come from except from the Snowy? And what sort of a horse would he ride except a half-thoroughbred mountain pony? Kipling felt in his bones that there must have been a well in his medieval fortress, and I felt equally convinced that there must have been a man from Snowy River, I was right. They have turned up from all the mountain districts ” men who did exactly the same ride and could give you chapter and verse for every hill they descended and every creek they crossed. It was no small satisfaction to find that there had really been a man from Snowy River ”more than one of them."
A. B. (Banjo) Paterson Sydney Mail, 21st December 1938