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Clancy of the Overflow by Banjo Paterson

Title: Clancy of the Overflow

A man riding a horse chasing cattle in the desert. A dog is following him. The title is Clancy of the Overflow by Banjo Paterson.

Author: Banjo Paterson

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st July 2021

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: Iconic Australian bush ballad

  • ·  Written by Australia’s greatest bush poet, AB ‘Banjo’


  • ·  Stunning illustrations from award-winning illustrator,

Andrew McLean

As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing, For the drover’s life has pleasures That the townsfolk never know.

First published in 1889, Banjo Paterson’s iconic poem has been loved by generations. Capturing the grit of the city, and the longed-for freedom of the wide, open plains where Clancy rides, it is now published with stunning new illustrations by award-winning illustrator Andrew McLean.


Banjo Paterson is one of our most well-known poets of the nineteenth century, perhaps best-known for Waltzing Matilda and Clancy of the Overflow. The latter has been republished by Scholastic Australia, with exquisite illustrations by Andrew McLean. The original poem contrasts the free country and wild bushland that Clancy is riding through whilst his friend, the narrator of the poem is stuck in the city.

The original poem, in its lyrical tempo and presents the reader with the reality of nineteenth century life for some Australians, and the contrast between what they saw as mundane to what they would have preferred, seen through the eyes of one man stuck in the city. As I read it, I wondered what Clancy felt – if he would rather be in a warm home with food rather than droving in the countryside – if he was feeling as passionate about what he was doing, if he felt it was as romantic as the narrator in the city thought it was.

The illustrations by Andrew McLean give a brilliant visual for the contrasts, with soft, sunset and bush colours for the scenes set in the bush and darker greys and browns for the city scapes. This reiterates the feelings of the narrator as he ponders Clancy’s journey and reflects on how he feels trapped in the city.

The poem may be studied in school, and this is a wonderful way to explore it and engage with this almost 140-year-old poem at any level from the youngest years, all the way up to high school. It can be used to study poetry, literature, history, drama – it feels like it could be used as diversely as people would like to use it. It could also be used in conjunction with a text-only version in older years, as doing both would help with literacy and visual literacy whilst studying.

A great interpretation and version of a classic poem.

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