Sunday History Photo / Person

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 08:29
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Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, CBE (17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson's more notable poems include "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of the Overflow" .

He was born at the property "Narrambla", near Orange, New South Wales, the eldest son of Andrew Bogle Paterson, a Scottish immigrant from Lanarkshire, and Australian-born Rose Isabella Barton, related to the future first Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton. Paterson's family lived on the isolated Buckinbah Station near Yeoval NSW until he was five when his father lost his wool clip in a flood and was forced to sell up. When Paterson's uncle John Paterson died, his family took over John Paterson's farm in Illalong, near Yass, close to the main route between Melbourne and Sydney. Bullock teams, Cobb and Co coaches and drovers were familiar sights to him. He also saw horsemen from the Murrumbidgee River area and Snowy Mountains country take part in picnic races and polo matches, which led to his fondness of horses and inspired his writings.

Paterson's early education came from a governess, but when he was able to ride a pony, he was taught at the bush school at Binalong. In 1874 Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School, performing well both as a student and a sportsman. During this time, he lived in a cottage called Rockend, in the suburb of Gladesville. The cottage is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. He left the prestigious school at 16 after failing an examination for a scholarship to University of Sydney. He went on to become a law clerk with a Sydney-based firm headed by Herbert Salwey and was admitted as a solicitor in 1886.
In the years he practised as a solicitor, Paterson also started a writing career. From 1885, he began submitting and having poetry published in the The Bulletin, a literary journal with a nationalist focus. His earliest work was a poem criticising the British war in the Sudan, which also had Australian participation. Over the next decade, the influential journal provided an important platform for Paterson's work, which appeared under the pseudonym of "The Banjo", the name of his favourite horse. As one of its most popular writers through the 1890s, he formed friendships with other significant writers in Australian Literature, such as E.J. Brady, Harry Breaker Morant and Henry Lawson. In particular, Paterson became engaged in a friendly rivalry of verse with Lawson about the allure of bush life ,

Paterson became a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the Second Boer War, sailing for South Africa in October 1899. His graphic accounts of the relief of Kimberley, surrender of Bloemfontein (the first correspondent to ride in) and the capture of Pretoria attracted the attention of the press in Britain. He also was a correspondent during the Boxer Rebellion, where he met George "Chinese" Morrison and later wrote about his meeting. He was editor of the Sydney Evening News (1904–06) and of the Town and Country Journal (1907–08).

In 1895, Paterson headed north to Dagworth station near Winton, Queensland. Travelling with fiancée, Sarah Riley, they met with her old school friend, Christina Macpherson, who had recently attended a race at Warrnambool in Victoria. She had heard a band playing a tune there, which became stuck in her head and replayed it for Paterson on the autoharp. The melody also resonated with him and propelled him to write "Waltzing Matilda" While there has been much debate about what inspired the words, the song became one of his most his widely-known and sung ballads.

Although for most of his adult life, Paterson lived and worked in Sydney, his poems mostly presented a highly romantic view of the bush and the iconic figure of the bushman. Influenced by the work of another Australian poet John Farrell, his representation of the bushman as a tough, independent and heroic underdog became the ideal qualities underpinning the national character. His work is often compared to the prose of Henry Lawson, particularly the seminal work, "The Drover's Wife", which presented a considerably less romantic view of the harshness of rural existence of the late 19th century.
In 1908 after a trip to the United Kingdom he decided to abandon journalism and writing and moved with his family to a 40,000-acre property near Yass.

In World War I, Paterson failed to become a correspondent covering the fighting in Flanders, but did become an ambulance driver with the Australian Voluntary Hospital, Wimereux, France. He returned to Australia early in 1915 and, as an honorary vet, travelled on three voyages with horses to Africa, China and Egypt. He was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force on 18 October 1915, serving initially in France where he was wounded and reported missing in July 1916 and latterly as commanding officer of the unit based in Cairo, Egypt. He was repatriated to Australia and discharged from the army having risen to the rank of major in April 1919. His wife had joined the Red Cross and worked in an ambulance unit near her husband.
Just as he returned to Australia, the third collection of his poetry, Saltbush Bill JP, was published and he continued to publish verse, short stories and essays while continuing to write for the weekly Truth. Paterson also wrote on rugby league football in the 1920s for the Sydney Sportsman.
On 8 April 1903 he married Alice Emily Walker, of Tenterfield Station, in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, in Tenterfield, New South Wales. Their first home was in Queen Street, Woollahra. The Patersons had two children, Grace (born in 1904) and Hugh (born in 1906).
Paterson died of a heart attack in Sydney on 5 February 1941 aged 76. Paterson's grave, along with that of his wife, is in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Sydney.
Banjo Paterson's image appears on the $10 note, along with an illustration inspired by "The Man From Snowy River" and, as part of the copy-protection microprint, the text of the poem itself.

In 1981 he was honoured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post.
A. B. Paterson College, at Arundel on the Gold Coast, Australia, is named after Paterson.
The A. B. "Banjo" Paterson Library at Sydney Grammar School was named after Paterson.
The Festival of Arts in Orange, New South Wales, presents a biennial Banjo Paterson Award for poetry and one-act plays and there is also an annual National Book Council Banjo Award.
In 1983 a rendition of 'Waltzing Matilida' by country-and-western singer Slim Dusty was the first song broadcast by astronauts to Earth. I have made a short Waltzing Matilda from the Space Shuttle Columbia on You Tube for ExplorOz.

Slim Dusty Sings Waltzing Matilda

His Birthday this coming Wednesday
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 08:37

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 08:37
Truly, one of the greatest!

Cheers, Baz
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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 09:35

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 09:35
Thanks Doug,
Yet another great read......
Insanity doesnt run in my family.... it gallops!

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Reply By: 9900Eagle - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 10:06

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 10:06
Big thanks Doug
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Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 11:04

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 11:04
I'll add in a few tributes to the man that we found around the Winton area. Below used to be out front of The Waltzing Matilda Centre before it burnt down, not sure if it's still there or not now though?

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If you visit The Blue Heeler Hotel up the road at Kynuna, you'll also find some historical references to him there also.

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Follow Up By: rumpig - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 11:07

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 11:07
Not sure why that first pic i have posted up looks so out of focus on my screen now, looking at the original pic i have it's in focus before it got resized...strange!!!
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 17:38

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 17:38
Thanks mate, haaa I have the top 2 photo's myself, I got them when I was migrating from Adelaide River to Orange back in 2012.
Maybe it's the curved background that makes the photo blurry
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 17:53

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 at 17:53
Banjo's still there, Rumpig. And the windmill too!

Came past there 2 hours ago, after picking up a paper, and checked on him for you. Think the couple of sheep have moved on to greener pastures........probably on their side in a storage shed somewhere?


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Feb 15, 2016 at 17:40

Monday, Feb 15, 2016 at 17:40
Thanks, Doug. A great Australian, he's one of my favorite Australian poets, and I have two very large bound volumes, containing all his poetry.
"The Great Calamity", "Mulga Bills Bicycle", and "The Man from Ironbark" are the greatest of Patersons poems, IMO.

The Great Calamity

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Thursday, Feb 18, 2016 at 19:05

Thursday, Feb 18, 2016 at 19:05
G'day Ron.

Yes "The Man from Ironbark" by Slim Dusty is one of my favorites, so well written and so Australian.

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Reply By: Member - John G - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016 at 09:46

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016 at 09:46
Thanks Doug

Very informative, and maybe it's an age thing, but Banjo certainly is one of the most evocative of writers, along with Lawson.

I recently wrote an article on the Lachlan River for On The Road magazine. I was keen to establish when and where Banjo met Clancy "down the Lachlan years ago". After canvassing EO readers, reading the Clancy family history, talking to a former owner of the Overflow Station, and reading some serious references, the consensus seems to be that Banjo never did meet Clancy, and the 'overflow' he refers to is not the Overflow Station. All part of Banjo's rich imagination according to the former owner, and the historians. Doesn't matter does it?

Write on!!

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