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Paterson’s Bush Ballads on Australian Stamps


Bush-BalladsThe Australian Post issued a set of four stamps in honour of writer Banjo Paterson.
Poet, journalist, editor and solicitor, Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson is arguably Australia’s master balladeer. The late 19th and early 20th centuries were the peak of this popular verse form in Australia.

But Paterson’s renown and poetry has travelled very well across time. In 2014, we commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth, on 17 February 1864.


Paterson’s use of a literary tradition of simple, rhyming, narrative poems adapted for singing proved popular. Published in December 1889, “Clancy of the Overflow” demonstrates Paterson’s romanticism for bush life, and perhaps his ambivalence to a career that tied him to both desk and city.


First published in 1890, “The Man from Snowy River” tells the tale of horsemen pursuing an escaped prizewinning colt in mountainous country. Written just prior to Federation, this ballad depicted something of an archetypal figure for a nation looking to forge a sense of itself: youthful, courageous and risk-taking.


“Waltzing Matilda” is probably the most famous of all Australian ballads, considered by some an unofficial national anthem. Paterson wrote it in 1895, when staying with friends at Dagworth station, Queensland.


“Mulga Bill’s Bicycle” strikes a humorous chord. Published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1896, it was written at the height of the 19th-century bicycling craze.

Stamp issue details

Denominations: 4 x 70c
Illustration: Jamie and Leanne Tufrey
Printer: McKellar Renown
Printing process: Lithography
Perforations: 13.86 x 14.6
Stamp size: 37.5mm x 26mm
Issue date: 13 May 2014

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