The Man they call the Banjo


Banjo Paterson

The 17th of February 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Australian poet, Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson.

Of Scottish background, Paterson was born near Orange in NSW, and lived most of his life in Sydney where he died in 1941. Banjo’s fame to most Australians rests on four of his poems Waltzing Matilda, The Man From Snowy River, Clancy of The Overflow and The Man From Ironbark, as well as being the face on the ten dollar note. His career was a long and interesting one spent in the legal profession, journalism, farming and writing, as well as his work as a war correspondent at the Boer War in South Africa in 1899-1900, and the First World War in Europe.

Unlike his fellow writer and poet, Henry Lawson, with whom Paterson had a rowdy and totally stage managed literary stoush, Paterson never wore his ‘heart on his sleeve,’ and his detachment from his written works, and his somewhat distant character has often confused his audiences as to the real nature of the man and his personality.

The complex character of Banjo Paterson is nowhere more evident than in the tale of how Paterson wrote his most famous ballad, and Australia’s unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda.

After twenty years of painstaking research, Warrnambool resident, Dennis O’Keeffe published a book, Waltzing Matilda – The Secret Story of Australia’s Favourite Song, (Allen & Unwin 2012), which documents the hidden love story between Banjo and Christina Macpherson, who contributed the tune Craigielee to the writing of Waltzing Matilda, and the mystery surrounding the death of the swagman, Samuel Hoffmeister.

The exact circumstances about the love affair, Banjo’s break up with his fiancé Sarah Riley, and the death of the Swagman may never be known. Felix Meagher in collabouration with Dennis O’Keeffe, however, has taken up the challenge to fill in the gaps in a dramatic narrative with music, entitled The Man They Call The Banjo. In the words of Felix Meagher, The Man They Call the Banjo seeks ‘to find the heart or the emotional truth’ of the story of the writing of Waltzing Matilda.

Nature of event: Concert performance of The Man They Call The Banjo

Where: Wednesday March 5 2014 at 7.30pm

When: Coles Woolshed West Cloven Hills (BBQ from 6pm ) Camperdown.

Further information:  Landline programYouTube;

Contact details:
Wolf Heidecker, Arts Management Producer/Director
PO Box 493 WERRIBEE Vic 3030
mob 0413 555 630/email:; Wolf’s Performing Management

The Man They Call The Banjo returns to the woolshed where ABC-TV filmed a documentary that introduced the show Australia wide. To be performed in concert on  Wednesday March 5 2014 at 7.30pm Coles Woolshed, West Cloven Hills (BBQ from 6pm.)