Was the Man from Snowy River really a woman?
Oatley's Cliff Crane, who has researched the life and ballads of Snowy River author A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson for 25 years, is not prepared to discount the possibility.
Cliff's 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.
Cliff has travelled 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.
And while he feels he knows more than most about Paterson, he believes there is one last secret waiting to be revealed.
"In the 130 years since A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson, at age 25, wrote the epic ballad "The Man from Snowy River" many different men have been named as having made "the ride" about which the ballad was written," Cliff said.
"Some even have 'The Man from Snowy River' on their headstones.
Paterson's widow Alice and son, Hugh always claimed the work was not about any particular ride or rider.
"But despite the Patersons' assertions, I am now making the bold claim that I know the identity of the person, 'the rider' whose ride led to Paterson writing The Man from Snowy River.
"I now have a document of Paterson's own words describing a dramatic ride he witnessed, or part of which he witnessed, with him seemingly one of "the watchers on the mountain standing mute".
"I have unarguably identified the date of the ride and the name of the rider - a name never before put up as being the original Man from Snowy River!
"I've narrowed down to a quite small space just where the rider was buried, but there is no headstone marking the exact spot of the rider's last resting place.
"I'm convinced the ride Paterson describes in the document was the one that set his mind to writing his epic ballad.
"For my claim to be undeniable, though, I need to find again a small newspaper article I once saw.
"That article is the vital missing piece to the jig-saw puzzle of "Who was The Man from Snowy River?".
"But that search is a big job if undertaken by only one person. I'm 84 and time is against me. I'm seeking help from people experienced in searching digitised newspapers using the 'Trove' search platform.
"As to the name of the rider, I am going to announce his - or her - name the16th of February, 2020, the day before the 156th anniversary of Paterson's birthday at the truly amazing 'Banjo Paterson More Than a Poet' museum at the small central western town of Yeoval. www.banjopatersonmorethanapoet.com.au
"I might even arrange a special tour to take in the day at Yeoval.
"As to Paterson having claimed he didn't have a particular person in mind, when I reveal the rider's identity I think people will draw their own conclusions.
"For the time being I leave people to ponder, why did he hide the identity of the rider?
"Was it to shield the rider and family from attention? Was it because of nationality or skin colour? Did the rider have some infirmity, or was it a person on the run from the law?
"Or was it because the rider was actually a woman?
"I'm giving only one little clue at this stage, the rider's family had connection to one of Australia's most famous - or infamous - bushrangers."
Anyone wanting to help in this challenging search - or to register interest in a possible Yeoval trip - should contact Cliff on email@example.com