Story By Charles Davis

Sometimes things don’t quite go to plan. Each year at The Man from Snowy River Festival at Corryong, Vic, Banjo Paterson’s classic poem is re-enacted. The mob of “wild bush horses” is coached in the weeks leading up to the event to run a loop in a valley in view of the thousands of spectators who come. “This year the horses decided to rewrite the script. They headed for the hills and went right over the ridge,” says festival coodinator Jenny Boardman. “The re-enactment became a reality. But the horsemen are the real deal and they know how to handle horses, so they went and got them back. It just took longer than usual.” Held in early April, the four-day event had sparkling sunny days, and an impressive crowd of at least 19,000. “It’s such a diverse festival,” Jenny says of the 20-year-old event. “It’s not just horses. We’ve got working cattle dog events, the dog jump, a talent quest, bush poetry, street parade, the poem re-enactment, an art show and photography.” In the arena, the premier contest is the Man from Snowy River Challenge, in which competitors must prove their prowess in areas such as cross country, bareback riding and horse-shoeing. The finalists then compete in a brumby catch and buckjump. “You ride a buckjumper in your work saddle and have to crack a whip at the same time,” says this year’s winner, Bronson Macklinshaw, of Armidale, NSW. Bronson, a professional horse breaker, is on a winning streak having also taken out this year’s Battle on the Bidgee at Gundagai and the Murundi King of the Range. He says the skills needed in such events are not just old ‘traditions’. “They’re not things that don’t exist anymore – there’s still plenty of people who do these things on a day-to-day basis.

This Story is from Issue #101

Outback Magazine: June/July 2015