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Corryong and the Man from Snowy River

Matthew Higgins's book Rugged Beyond Imagination has a chapter 'Hoofbeats through snowgums'. It is about the horse culture in the high country and the practice of catching wild horses known as brumby-running.

Look at that $10 note in your pocket and you will be reminded of the enduring vitality of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson's epic poem 'The Man from Snowy River'. Regardless of your view on feral horses in mountain national parks, the story of the brumby - and the people who chased them - has been and still is a powerful force in Australia's bush folklore. The reason why the presence of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park today is a sensitive issue is because our relationship to brumbies is so different to any other feral animal.

For the mountain communities, attachment to the legend of 'The Man' is a central plank of local culture. Although Paterson himself said he had no single stockman in mind when he wrote the poem, Jindabyne, Adaminaby, Corryong and other mountain towns have their local heroes. Corryong in particular looks back to a local man as the inspiration for the poem. Jack Riley, late 1800s stockman from Tom Groggin station in the Upper Murray, is buried in the local cemetery and claimed by the town as the original 'Man'. Paterson did meet Riley and heard some of his exploits and this underpins the Corryong claim.

The following images illustrate how strong the Riley claim to brumby fame is in the town today. The legend now seems inseparable from the town's view of itself.

All photography by Matthew Higgins, unless otherwise stated.