03 May The Man from Snowy River Festival 2018
Each year (around Easter time), the Man From Snowy River Festival is held in Corryong VIC, a small town east of Wodonga in the Victorian high country. According to the 2016 Australian Census Corryong has only 1,346 residents.
It was reported that 30,000 visitors stayed in Corryong to attend the 2018 Man From Snowy River Festival, most providing their own accommodation (caravan, campertrailer, motorhome or tent etc.). Also attending the festival were visitors camping in adjacent towns, plus residents from neighbouring towns and properties. The festival organisers, Corryong retailers and residence coped with this population explosion admirably.
Unfortunately this region had not been blessed with rain for quite a while before the 2018 festival. So the camping grounds (except for the golf course) and event arenas were hard and dry, while the air was full of red dust.
The best area to be “accommodated” was on the golf course, because of its proximity to the festival events and the well watered grass cover. Despite our efforts in the preceding months, we missed out on a spot there. However, our caravaning group did secure sites in an area called “Clancy’s Overflow”, a large, dry paddock approximately 10 minutes walk from the main festival arenas.
We did ride our bikes to the arenas once, but the hard, potholed soil of our paddock discouraged us from further attempts. In hindsight, we should have walked the bikes in and out of the paddock and then cycled the rest of the way.
I had a strong allergy to the dusty air the whole time, so my perception of the festival was somewhat altered by that, but obviously there is nothing the organisers or the residence could have done to compensate for the lack of rain. As the saying goes, “suck it up princess”.
If you are an Australian you would have, no doubt heard about the “Man From Snowy River”, read the poem of that name, know a little about the poem’s author, Banjo Paterson and likely viewed the 1982 MFSR movie (staring Kirk Douglas, Jack Thomson, Tom Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton).
For those who have no knowledge of this, here is the story (in brief).
The Man from Snowy River, Jack Riley, migrated to Australia in 1854 as a 13-year-old. He took up residence in Omeo, Victoria, to assist his recently widowed sister. In time he became an accomplished stockman and horseman working many cattle stations in the Australian Snowy Mountains region. At some point in the 1880’s Jack teamed up with a group of mountain horseman to search for an escaped thoroughbred colt. The famous “Clancy of the Overflow” was included, but Jack, despite being in such esteemed company, alone recaptured the colt and the wild bush horses it had joined, after a daring chase down a treacherous mountainside. The others just watched from the mountain top in awe.
In early 1890 the “bush poet”, Banjo Paterson, visited the Snowy Mountains area and gleaned many stories from the mountain stockman, including Jack Riley’s legendary ride to recapture “the colt from old Regret”. Banjo also spent time with Jack (by then the manager of the Tom Groggin cattle station) and soon after wrote the “Man From Snowy River” poem, which was published in April of 1890 in the Sydney Bulletin.
If you’ve not had the opportunity to read Banjo’s “MFSR” poem you can find it by using this link:
Jack Riley died in July 1914 and was buried in Corryong.
On the second day of “the festival” we travelled out to Thowgla, 7 km southeast of Corryong, to witness the MFSR re-enactment and the “Snowy River” horsemen and horsewomen who still earn a living in these mountains and keep the legend alive.
Guy McLean gave us a moving rendition of Banjo Peterson’s MFSR poem leading into the MFSR re-enactment.
Not certain if that is historically accurate, but it added a touch of drama to the event.
Back in Corryong that afternoon we witnessed the 3pm MFSR Parade.
Horrie was an Egyptian Terrier, befriended by Australian Private Jim Moody in the middle east during 1941. Horrie became an air sentry, warning troops of approaching enemy aircraft. He did such a good job he was promoted to corporal. When Jim Moody returned to Australia he smuggled Horrie in too, to live out his life near Corryong.
Over the four-day festival there were many and varied events.
Well done Corryong and all of the competitors and participants. You put on a great show.