The Man From Snowy River

Last Saturday night, I was sitting in my chair looking for something to watch on TV to help me unwind from a day of laundry and soccer games. I couldn”t find anything that interested me, so I moved on to Netflix to see if there was anything available for instant watching that would suit. I scrolled through a long list of title, nothing sparking until I hitThe Man From Snowy River. Suddenly I couldn”t wait to start it.

I”ve probably seen the movie at least three or four times, but it never loses it”s appeal. Man and horse working as one to overcome odds and win the girl. What could be better? But as I watched the opening credits, I noticed something for the first time. “Based on the poem, The Man From Snowy River.” This movie was based on a poem? I had no idea.

As it turns out, the poem that inspired the movie was written by an Australian bush poet named Banjo Patterson, and it first appeared in print in an Australian news magazine on April 26, 1890. I found a copy and read through it, amazed at how closely the screen writer kept the movie to the original poem. The romance thread was added, and I for one am glad, being a sucker for romance that I am, but I thought you might enjoy reading parts of this poem. It is too long to post in its entirety here, but you can find the full text here.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

Β .
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,

No better horseman ever held the reins;

For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,

He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won”t say die –

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the

badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,

And the old man said, “That horse will never do

For a long a tiring gallop – lad, you”d better stop away,

Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”

So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –

“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;

“I warrant he”ll be with us when he”s wanted at the end,

For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

When they reached the mountain”s summit, even Clancy took a pull,

It well might make the boldest hold their breath,

The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full

Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,

At the bottom of that terrible descent.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.

He followed like a bloodhound on their track,

Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,

And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,

He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;

But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,

For never yet was mountain horse a cur.


I don”t know about you, but every time I see Jim and his horse go over the edge of that cliff and ride down, I get chills. Have you ever seen The Man From Snowy River or read the poem? The next time you need a movie night, give it a try. Next to Hugh Jackman in Australia, it”s one of the best Aussie westerns out there.

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at:

47 thoughts on “The Man From Snowy River”

  1. I’m with you. I absolutely love this movie – every bit of it. And, I’ve taken to watching the way it’s directed because it gives me ideas on how to add little touches with the cowboys in my stories. Definitely stop breathing when he goes over that cliff and down the side of the mountain. Great beauty in the making of the film. Gread music, too…to say nothing of the man who plays Jim. All around winner. πŸ™‚

  2. Wow! Haven’t seen this movie in years. Thoroughly enjoyed it when I did see it. I agree it was scary when they started running and jumping over cliffs. All in all it was pretty dern good. Thanks for the reminder, Karen.

  3. Oh Karen, this was so good. Yes I love The Man from Snowy River. But, until now ever heard of this poem, How neat. I would like a copy of it, but would have to write it by hand, because my printer does not work. I think that movie is on Sun. Thanks for the entertainment. Maxie

  4. I didn’t realize the movie was inspired by a poem. THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER is a favorite around our house. There is something so basic and elemental about it. My second daughter couldn’t get enough of it, and had the biggest crush on Jim.
    I never thought of the Australian “West” running concurrent with the American West. They had so much in common, even cowboy poets it seems. The first time horse and rider headed down that steep slope I think I held my breath until they reached the bottom safely. It has been quite a while since we have seen it. I just might have to get a copy to put in daughter #2’s Easter basket. Her son will enjoy it.

  5. Karen, thank you so much for sharing this poem. I’m going to find the rest and read it. I adore The Man From Snowy River and will watch it anytime. I haven’t seen Hugh Jackman in Austrailia, so I’ll find that too. I’m also a big fan of Quigley Down Under. Not quite a romance but a gripping western and fascinating character study.

  6. Love this, Karen! The movie is an old favorite, though I haven’t seen it for years. Had no idea it was based on an old poem.
    Someday I want to go to Australia. I rent every movie I can find that’s set there. My walls are decorated with Aboriginal paintings, and a rich Aussie accent can send my aging hormones into overdrive!
    Thanks for a great start to my day.

  7. Karen,

    Thanks for such a fun post. I had no idea the movie was based on a poem. I think I need to cruise on over to Netflix and watch the movie again now that I’ve read the poem. Sooooo cool!

  8. Hi, Paisley. I couldn’t agree more about the music. I bought the soundtrack back when I was in college and it is one of my favorites. My husband loves it, too. It so clearly depicts the mood of the scenes, I can picture the movie rolling in my head as the music plays. Marvelous!

  9. Mary J – I think watching this movie as a teenager was one of the factors that played into me becoming a western author. I loved it that much. They made a sequel, too. It wasn’t quite as good, but still a great story.

  10. Maxie – I had never noticed the poem, either. It was fun to read it right after watching the movie. Maybe you can ask a friend to print the poem out for you. It’s definitely worth having. πŸ™‚

  11. Patricia – I can’t think of a better Easter gift! πŸ™‚ I tried to get my 14 year-old daughter to watch it with me last weekend, but she was in one of her “mom’s not cool” moods and went off to her room. Sigh. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

  12. Hi Karen,
    You know, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of that movie through the years. I don’t think I’ve seen it in its entirety. It’s fun to learn about the inspriration for the movie being a poem. I love learning the “why” of thingss and bits of trivia like this. Happy Friday!

  13. Elizabeth – I never knew you were such an Aussie romantic. That’s fabulous. Such a fascinating land with a rich history. Like you, I would love to visit someday.

    Renee – Hope you get a chance to watch it soon. It’s definitely worth it. Have a great weekend!

  14. Hi, Charlene. I loved learning about the poem. And to think that it was first published back in 1890 – that gave be huge thrill. Banjo Patterson is apparently a huge point of Aussie pride down under, being their most famous poet. There is even a statue of The Man From Snowy River on his mountain steed going over the cliff on prominent display in Corryong, Victoria. Pretty cool stuff!

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie!!!! A.B. “Banjo” Paterson wrote some really wonderful poetry celebrating the Australian “wild west.” Quality reading! And one of the best things about it is that Tom Burlinson REALLY DID THAT RIDE!!! Today, I fear it would be done with CGI and special effects; but back before that technology, they just found a stunt man who could act, starred him in a movie, and let him ride. πŸ™‚ Like everyone else, that scene gives me chills every single time. And it sets up one of the most poignant payoffs in movie history in the sequel–the death of his beloved horse, and the wild stallion who comes to take his place… πŸ™‚

  16. Amy – I know what you mean about the realism of having Tom Burlinson take the ride himself. It is such an amazing iconic image. No CGI could compare. And one of the reasons I don’t like the second movie as well is the failed repeat ride and the death of his horse. That cut me to the quick. But having him ride the stallion was pretty spectacular.

  17. Sounds like a great movie. I’ll have to look for it. Thanks for recommending. How neat that they made the movie from a poem. I’ve never heard that being done before. But it’s easy to see why the poem would stir a man’s imagination and make it into a movie. Thanks for an interesting blog.

  18. Karen,
    I guess I must live in a cave somewhere. I have never heard of the movie or the poem but this weekend I will talk hubby into watching it. He is a TV buff, I am a bookworm who seldom watches TV.
    I love the bits of information that I get from this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I know! I was tearing up just typing that about the second movie! (“I’m a major weeper!”) But the payoff is so powerful… it’s actually one of the few things I DO like about the second movie (as opposed to, say, Sigrid Thornton’s unfortunate hairdo…) πŸ™‚

  20. Hi, Linda. Definitely give it a try. It’s fabulous! The wild horses, the cinematography, the music, the story, and best of all the ride at the end. Gives me chills every time. πŸ™‚

  21. My lucky day – one of my favorite authors and my FAVORITE movie! When Jim & his lady are riding together along the cliff – the love in the atmospere. Both movies were wonderful. I’ll just have to dwell on this today…riding through Nicaragua on the crazy bus…

  22. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched Man From Snowy River and Return to Snowy River. I own both DVDs and the soundtracks for both movies, too. I absolutely love them and have to stop and watch anytime I run across it on TV. I also have a couple of copies of the poem.

    And did you know that the horse wranglers and stuntmen on the movie still operate a huge horse ranch in Australia and do horseback mountain treks? And once a year Tom Burlinson rides with them on a special Man From Snowy River trail ride? Would love to do it some day, but until then, I drool over the pictures that they post on Facebook. You can find their page by looking for Lovick’s High Country Adventure. It’s the people who raised and trained all the horses for the movies including Jim Craig’s horse. In fact, Jim Craig’s last horse, Sam, is still alive, and he’s the last living horse from the movies. So cool. You can watch a video about the yearly ride here…
    Snowy River Legacy lives on

  23. Thanks for reminding me about this movie. I have seen it several times and marvel at the horsemanship of the characters. Also loved the dual role played by Kirk Douglas.

  24. Karen, thanks so much for sharing this. I always just thought it was based upon a book. I love it…

  25. Hi, Melody. You are so right about that scene with Jim and Jessica riding along the rim of those cliffs. So romantic. The setting, riding together on Jim’s horse, the kiss. Sigh. Love it.

  26. Clari – You have just given me a new dream vacation to fantasize about. How perfect would that be? Going horseback riding with the Man from Snowy River himself. AWESOME! I didn’t know that the wranglers and horses all came from a single ranch. I love that they’ve kept the ranch going. I’ll definitely be looking into Lovick’s High Country Adventures. Thank you so much for sharing that!

  27. Joye – I bet Kirk Douglas had a lot of fun going between the stuffy Harrison and the crazy Spur with his wallaby stew. Ha! A really fun pair of roles for him.

    Kathleen – I hadn’t given it much thought, either. I was delighted to learn of the poem, especially since it was written in the same time period. Love those 1800s.

  28. Lovely post, Karen. I watched this movie one time and much as I loved it, I can’t watch again: (spoiler alert–when the mountain horse is killed.) Same thing with Dances with Wolves…the shooting of Two Socks is the deal-breaker. Sobbing.

  29. Hi, Tanya. The horse is actually killed in the second movie – Return to Snowy River. And I agree that, broke my heart. In this, the original, the horse is the champion and rides strong all the way through.

  30. LOVED LOVED LOVED the movie!!!
    One of my favs still–and the reason I am in love with buckskin horses πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing the poem and the memories!

  31. Love all the feedback on here!
    Karen, I do believe we are kindred spirits! πŸ™‚ After John Wayne, I’m pretty sure Tom Burlinson was my first cowboy crush. As an adult I can now appreciate both ‘Snowy River’ films on a different level. I know how hard horses are to work with (& ride), having owned several through the years. I was also a cinematography major for a year and learned a lot about the challenges of filming a movie. The ‘wow’ factor of the films increased quite a bit with my knowledge. πŸ™‚ Denny’s death is a black mark on ‘Return to Snowy River’ for sure- but I love the story of Jim & Jessica as adults and facing different challenges after ‘young love’.
    And I shan’t elaborate on Hugh Jackman & Australia except to say, “Yes, indeed!” πŸ™‚

  32. If you just heard a ‘Squee!’ That was me responding to Joye’s (lovely name ;D) post! That is definitely going on my bucket list! Maybe I can plan that stop on the same trip as New Zealand? Hmmmm. πŸ˜‰

  33. I know what you mean, Joy. I already checked out that Snowy River ride. It’s costs a pretty penny at $3000 per person, but it lasts 4-5 days and you get Tom Burlinson as your trail guide. He still looks good on a horse even 30 years later. πŸ™‚

    And I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, too. Maybe we can get a group rate if we all go down together. LOL

  34. Thanks, Joy. I love that my name is a bit different, and it’s special because it’s a derivative of my grandpa Clarence’s name. I’m kind of fond of your name, too. It belonged to a great grandmother and now belongs to my sister. πŸ™‚

    And it would be totally cool if we all got to go together on a Snowy River Ride! If I won the lottery… but then I’d actually have to start playing and since I don’t… Oh, well. πŸ™‚

  35. Karen, I have to admit to never seeing the movie in its entirety, though I’ve seen parts when chanel surfing – always seem to come across t when it is half way over. I may have to get it from Netflix just to see it from start to finish. And it’s so cool that you were able to find the poem it was based on

  36. It’s worth a watch, Winnie. I think you’d really like it. Right now it’s available on the instant queue for Netflix, so you don’t even have to wait for the DVD. πŸ™‚

  37. I think I have seen it but not sure. If I caught it on TV I would watch it. I do love westerns.

  38. Karen- I love that idea. πŸ™‚ I bet we would definitely have enough people to qualify for a group rate. Start saving πŸ˜‰
    I’ve wanted to see New Zealand since the first ‘Rings’ movie- but I’m actually glad I haven’t gone yet, because they now have a real ‘Green Dragon’ Inn where you can stay, and permanent Hobbit holes built into the landscape.

  39. Love this movie! And I had read the poem before. The music is fantastic. Thank you for reminding mne. I think it is time for me to watch it again.

  40. Thanks for the poem! I’ve always known it was based on Banjo Pattersons poem, but have never read it. I will have run right over and read the long version! This is my all time favorite western and movie, hands down! The piano music is so beautiful too! Thanks for sharing!

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