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The Ballad of the Wonderful Large Wild Man

Stimulus: #1: 
The Wonderful Large Wild Man (ca 1790s), unknown author

Student activities

Task no. 1

The Ballad of the Wonderful Large Wild Man

A ballad is a poem or song that tells a story. Often, the chorus or refrain of a ballad is repeated between each verse or stanza.

The ballad is an important part of the tradition of Australia poetry. European migrants first brought ballads to the colonies, and they were quickly adapted to the new Australian context. Early on, Australian ballads were about the voyages made and new lives in colony. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the popularity of bush ballads was very high.

Bush ballads were often set in rural areas, and celebrated life in the ‘bush’. Bushrangers, swagmen, stockmen, miners and shearers were commonly the subject of these ballads. Some of the most famous Australian poems are bush ballads, including Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River and The Man from Ironbark and Henry Lawson’s When Andy’s Gone With Cattle.

Investigate ballads

Research and read some ballads from Australian history.

You might like to research and read ballads of some of the following writers:

Adam Lindsay Gordon
Banjo Paterson
Henry Lawson
Barcroft Boake
Edward Dyson
E. J. Brady

The Man from Snowy River is one of the most famous and popular Australian poems. The original manuscript of this bush ballad by Banjo Paterson is in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales. It is written in Banjo Paterson’s own hand writing and was first published in 1895.

You can see this manuscript and read this poem on the State Library's website.


Individually, or in pairs, compose a ballad about the capture and display in England of the Wonderful Large Wild Man.

Include a refrain or chorus in your ballad about the story of the Wonderful Large Wild Man.