Sometimes when Geoffrey Graham gets into character to play Banjo Paterson, he becomes so immersed he feels he is him.
And so it seemed at the Jack Riley memorial service at Corryong’s Man from Snowy River Festival yesterday, commemorating 100 years since his death.
While performing Paterson’s poem The Man from Snowy River in front of Jack Riley’s 138-year-old homestead, his lips curled and he cracked his whip with wild passion.
“Taking on another persona can be incredibly powerful,” said Mr Graham, who’s performed at every festival since it began in 1995.
Once while in a scene depicting the end of Paterson’s life, Mr Graham’s hairs stood up on the back of his neck when the voice of an old man came from his mouth.
“I thought, that wasn’t me talking,” he said.
“It’s quite an uncanny resemblance, people say ‘you look more like Banjo Paterson than he does’.”
Mr Graham is of similar weight and height to the man he’s played since he was a child.
They also had a similar career path, married in their late 30s and his middle name, Walker, is the same as Paterson’s wife’s maiden name.
“There are a whole pile of things that are quite strange,” he said.
Mr Graham, wearing a three-piece suit, bow-tie and Stetson hat, said it was a highlight every year to perform in the country his idol’s most famous poem is set.
“It’s a mecca for a lot of people interested in Banjo Paterson,” he said.
One such fan was Bernie Jones who travelled from Moree to the festival for the first time.
“The fellow who recited the poem was really good,” he said.
“I like all Australiana. As soon as I read a book, I’ve got to go where it’s set.”
Mr Graham will play Paterson throughout the festival, including the re-enactment of the poem, moved from tomorrow to 9am Sunday because of the rain.