The discovery of Banjo Paterson’s lost poems has prompted an overhaul of New South Wales government policy on invasive species and land management.
Archivists recently stumbled upon a host of previously unknown texts from the beloved Australian poet, who grew up in regional NSW, but wrote many of his works about life on the land while living in Woollahra, Sydney.
Paterson’s famous poem, The Man from Snowy River, is often cited when justifying the protection of feral horses in Australia’s alpine national parks and to argue against conservationists who are demanding a cull due to the destruction of the high country ecosystem.
The NSW government has afforded the feral horses more protection than the Victorian government on the other side of the ranges, and horse numbers have exploded in recent years, as has their trail of destruction. Countless ministers have drawn support from feral horse lovers who argue the horses are an integral part of Australian heritage, as expressed in The Man from Snowy River.
For this reason, the discovery of Paterson’s other poem’s will see more feral animals afforded the same protection.
Run Randy Rabbit!
A heartwarming poem about a cute little bunny who outruns farmers after destroying all of their crops. Rabbits will now be protected throughout NSW. It is illegal to kill any feral rabbit, anywhere in the state. Efforts will be made to humanely rehome every feral rabbit.
How Nice Are Mice!
An alternative representation of the much-maligned pest. As a result, mice are a protected species throughout NSW, and every mouse which comprises the current mouse plague throughout NSW will be humanely rehomed.
Another famous Paterson poem is Waltzing Matilda. This has been subject to a revisionist reading, and as a result, the government has declared it illegal to kill sheep or lambs, and to consume this meat anywhere in New South Wales. Discussions continue regarding the legality of sheering sheep for wool.
Paterson wrote a sister poem to his famous tale about sheep theft, and it is called Moulting Ma’ Killer, about a loveable cat which kills countless native Aussie animals every day, before returning to the loving embrace of its owner beside the hearth. Law makers have now axed programs to eradicate feral cats and control stray and pet cats. Every feral and stray cat will be free to roam night and day.
The treasure trove of hidden poems also included works from many more Australian poets writing about other feral animals. While researchers continue the painstaking task of matching the delicate and faded documents with their respective authors, their discovery has already reversed invasive species laws throughout the nation.
One poem is called That Bloke from Humpty Doo. It glorifies the humble cane toad, and it is therefore illegal to kill cane toads anywhere in Australia. Official policy is to humanely rehome every cane toad in Australia.
The Poor Man’s Bass depicts a typical Aussie battler trying desperately to feed his young family with carp after failing to land a bass in Australia’s regional rivers. The heartbreaking poem won protection for carp throughout Australia.
Other poems romanticise animals such as the fox, donkey, camel, wild pig, wild dog, buffalo, deer and goat, and all of these animals are now protected as part of the massive policy overhaul. Severe punishment awaits anyone who is caught attempting to harm feral horses or mice, rabbits, cane toads, cats, foxes, carp, cane toads, donkeys, camels, wild pigs, wild dogs, buffalo, deer or goats
Images: Jae Park, Daniel Fazio, Big Game Australia, Melbourne Press Club.