"Banjo" Paterson

Bush Poet and Nationalist Patriot
From: http://home.alphalink.com.au/~eureka/banjo.htm

"Banjo" Paterson's poetry and stories, still popular to this day, are among the best writings of our national culture, often evoking a strong affection for, and affinity with, the Australian bush and community. Andrew Barton Paterson (later to use the pseudonym of "The Banjo" for his magazine writings; an alias derived from the name of a racehorse the family owned) was born of pioneering stock, near Orange in New South Wales, on 17 February 1864. He excelled not only in his studies but was an all-round sportsman. He had a deep affection for horses, being a natural horseman, winning note as an amateur rider, and, not surprisingly, many of his works have a "horse theme". In 1885 he commenced contributing to The Bulletin magazine, at that time a significant force for Australian nationalism, which crossed all boundaries of class and taste. He readily acknowledged a sympathy for the editorial direction of its founder J.F. Archibald, who pursued Australian nationalism in the face of the British mind-set current at that time. In 1889 Paterson published, at his own expense, a pamphlet of social ideals, Australia for the Australians, with an underlying focus on individual and national self-sufficiency and reliance. It advanced the worth of honest work against speculators and manipulators who produced nothing. Cheap labour he saw as a signal of the degradation of society. His ideals rejected unemployment and polarisation of the workforce due to "the strife of the world's markets". In 1895 The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses was released, breaking all publishing records in Australia and becoming a cultural icon itself. Over 100 years later it is still being republished. His great sense of Australianism can be seen not only in his penning of Australia's national song "Waltzing Matilda", but also in many of his other popular works, such as "Clancy of the Overflow", "The Road to Gundagai", "Mulga Bill's Bicycle", and "The Geebung Polo Club"; all contributing to the

Australian consciousness. Paterson was caught up in colonial Australia's commitment to the unfortunate Boer War, becoming a war correspondent. He was also a correspondent in the tragic First World War, providing a particular flavour and record of the participation and sacrifices of the Australian forces. As a freelance writer he contributed to various newspapers and magazines. In some of his articles he warned Australians that the threat of Asianisation to the Northern Territory was not being effectively challenged. He attacked the demands of some employers for cheap Asian labour (particularly those in the Northern Territory), and told of the consequences for our nation of Asian immigration. Banjo wrote of : "the fear of the N.T.'s resumption as a Crown colony, an event which would be followed by an influx of cheap Asiatics from Britain's Eastern possessions. And, in fact, the Territory itself is now clamouring for the introduction of the cheap and nasty Chow, notwithstanding that it is breeding its own Chinky fast enough... The hordes of aliens that have accumulated are a menace to the rest of Australia." The Bulletin, 31 December 1898. "Only eight day's steam from our Northern Territory there lies the great seething cauldron of the East, boiling over with parti-coloured humanity brown and yellow men by the million, and they are quite near enough to us to do a lot of harm if their ideas run that way... If our dashing Australian soldiers are ever called on to fight at all it will be to fight these Eastern peoples, and they will have to fight in our Northern Territory... Furthermore, our Northern Territory, practically uninhabited by whites, is just the place to suit these people. On those great sweltering, steaming, fever-laden plains, where the muddy rivers struggle slowly to the sea, the Orientals are in their glory. If they once get a good footing there, they will out-breed and out-multiply any European race." Sydney Morning Herald, August 1901. "Whatever danger there may be from the kanaka is as nothing compared to the danger of the Oriental invasion... The fact that a few thousands of these people have settled on our coasts does not trouble us much. They can do little harm in our time. But the same was said of the first rabbits let loose in Australia... it is the existence of this and similar depots of Asiatics along our coasts to which the attention of all thinking people is invited. We know what troubles the

Americans are having over the black question, and these Asiatics will assuredly be all over northern Australia within the next few years." Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 1901.

From: http://scs.une.edu.au/Bushrangers/who.htm

The Convict Bushrangers
'Better dead than living in hell.' As the dumping ground for the worst of England's criminal system during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Australia became a society outside of the law. The majority of early immigrants were convicts or their keepers, resentful of authority and the harsh conditions of life in the hulks and penal settlements of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). Mary Lee describes those transported to Australia in her essay, Convicts in Australia. 'Between 1788 and 1868, 140 000 males and 25 000 females were transported to Australia as convicts." (Disher 1981, p1) Most of them were thieves, though many had committed more serious crimes. All of them were poor, and lived a mean existence in crowded prisons or hulks (prison ships), with poor food, hard labour and brutal punishment for wrongs. They worked for the wealthy landowners and free settlers, as well as constructing the roads, bridges and buildings for the new colony. The usual sentence was seven years transportation, but many could not bear it and became 'bolters', preferring to take their chances escaping into the bush. Alone in rough country without posessions they 'bailed up' travellers and robbed farms for money, horses, food, guns and clothing, and became the first bushrangers. 'The years of brutal treatment in prison, lack of food, and the need always to stay ahead of the police and settlers' guns, meant that normal standards of behaviour no longer applied for them' (Disher 1981, p4). They had no respect for the rights of others, had nothing to lose for their robbery and murder and were greatly feared. Stories of their depravity take in murder and cannibalism, though this latter abomination was the vice of a minority who had no qualms using their fellow absconders as a mobile food supply. Many escapees had little chance of surviving in the bush of their new country. Few lived long in freedom. Some died of starvation, sickness or exposure, or were killed by the police and landowners. Those who were captured alive were hanged or flogged and those that survived died in prison or exile.

Gold Fever
The second factor that led to bushranging was the gold rush of the 1850's and 1860's which saw a mass exodus from the coastal cities to the ranges. Traffic on the roads to the early goldfields at Orange and Turon in New South Wales and Ballarat in Victoria was heavy. There were no banks on the gold fields, you carried your gold on you. Those who struck it rich became an easy target for those who preferred stealing to working. Many

diggers were robbed or killed. 'On the Kiandra diggings in New South Wales in the 1860s, diggers formed the Miners' Protection Committee to protect their gold from the raids of Frank Gardiner's gang..' (Disher 1981 p19). In Boldrewood's 'Robbery Under Arms' Dick Marston describes how he, like many bushrangers, examined the gold escort before it left the diggings: We used to go up sometines to see the gold escort start...The gold was taken down to Sydney once a week in a strong express wagon- something like a Yankee coach, with leather springs and a high driving seat; so that four horses could be harnessed. One of the police sergents generally drove, a trooper fully armed with rifle and revolver on the box beside him. In the back seat two more troopers with their Sniders ready for action; two more a hundred yards ahead, and another couple about the same distance behind. Bushrangers held people up on the lonely roads near the gold fields and raided wealthy squatters with properties near the gold towns. The police of the time had little hope of keeping things under control and had a very poor image. Many of them had resigned the force to go after gold and the quality of new recruits was often dubious leading to the many newspaper catoons of the time which protrayed them as bumbling, incompetent or corrupt. One sarcastic comment from the Argus , 13 December 1856 reads, The police reward fund has now accumulated to a very large amount, and cannot be better laid out than by handsomely rewarding those who so readily risked their lives in ridding society of its greatest curse... Check the Gold Rushes Page for more information on the Gold Rushes and the affect they had on bushranging.

The Wild Colonial Boys
Unlike the convicts who chose to take their risks in the bush to escape the harsh conditions of captivity, the next wave of bushrangers were native born, bush bred youths and young men, the sons in most cases of free poor settlers, who combined contempt for authority with a spirit of reckless adventure. They were stronger, healthier and better horsemen than their forebears, and some such as Captain Starlight, were eagre to acquire notoriety. Some like 'Mad' Dan Morgan were ruthless and vicious murderers, but others were almost admired for their daring, flashness and treatment of women. Four of the most notorious were Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and Fred Ward and Ned Kelly.

Bushrangers raiding a household Published in Melbourne Punch, 1863

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