Oatley researcher discovers lost work of Banjo Paterson

By the book: Oatley's Cliff Crane has researched the life and work of Banjo Paterson for 25 years. Now he has unearthed a previouly unknown work. Picture: John Veage
By the book: Oatley's Cliff Crane has researched the life and work of Banjo Paterson for 25 years. Now he has unearthed a previouly unknown work. Picture: John Veage

A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson expert, Oatley's Cliff Crane has found a previously unknown work by Australia's famous Bard of the Bush.

Mr Crane has researched the life and ballads of the Man From Snowy River author Banjo Paterson for the past 25 years.

The self-confessed 'Banjo-file' travels the state doing presentations of Paterson's works and life and times to historical and Probus Clubs and feels a personal connection with the writer.

His enthusiasm for Australia's famous bush versifier goes back to his early days growing up in the Gundagai-Tumut area near the Snowy Mountains foothills.

Earlier this year, after many years of research, he revealed the identity of the person he believes was the inspiration for The Man From Snowy River - Banjo Paterson's 11 year-old schoolmate Edward Hall who died at Binalong when he was thrown from a horse.

Mr Crane is full of admiration for the two granddaughters of Banjo Paterson who, with what must have been very exhausting time and energy, in 1983 published in two volumes Banjo's "complete works".

His admiration of the (late) grand-daughters is not dulled by his discovery of a work that was overlooked by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie in their compilation.

Only recently Mr Crane was thrilled when he came across an unknown work, written overnight by Paterson in 1900, and given the next day to a man who still had the original in his possession in 1941.

The work was never published in any of the collections of Paterson's works.

Now Mr Crane is tracing the descendants of the man to whom Banjo gave the work, hoping to locate the original form which he knows was written with pencil.

"Until I finish tracing the descendants, I won't be revealing the words of the 'new' work, except in confidence to my friend, well known bush balladeer Chris McGinty," Mr Crane said.

Chris McGinty, from the tiny village of Toogong in central western NSW, has been given the words and the tune of the original Irish "air" to which Paterson set the words so that he can play and sing it - along with other bush ballads - on a CD to be made on which Mr Crane will also talk of Banjo and narrate some of his works.

They intend launching the CD on February 17 next year at the annual Festival celebration of Paterson's birth held at the Banjo Paterson More than a Poet Museum at Yeoval (details are available from Mr Crane at banjocrane@gmail.com).

"In 2008 some original forms of Paterson's works were found in a diary of George Leonard Lee who in 1899 as Major Lee (later General Lee) sailed on the Kent with the first draft of reinforcements from NSW for the Aldershot Squadron of the Lancers who were serving in the South African War," Cliff said.

"This was the ship on which Banjo Paterson went as war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Argus newspapers.

"Though at the time they were thought to be "new" Paterson works they turned out to be early forms of slightly altered versions which were published relatively soon after Paterson returned from South Africa."

It seems this "new" 1900 work by Paterson found by Mr Crane is the first truly "new" work not so far published in any collection of Paterson's.

Mr Crane has promised that The Leader will be the first paper given the words when he releases them.