Paterson was for three years editor of the Sydney Evening News, a paper with a
strong emphasis on sports. After that he put in a year at the Town and Country
Journal. He gave that up and bought a sheep ranch with an eight-mile trout
stream after reading an advertisement for the property in his own magazine. He
edited The Sportsman for nine years after selling his ranches, and was a racing
writer for Smith's Weekly and for the Sydney Truth.
For 30 years
Paterson was a familiar figure at Randwick, tall and thin with a lined,
saturnine face. He visited with trainers and owners and was conspicuous only
because he carried ancient oversized field glasses. He liked to talk about
promising horses and never stopped looking for a wonder horse. Paterson
believed that a would-be owner should begin his search early, watching colts
running together in the fields and picking out of such groups the ones he
planned to follow. Much of Paterson's novel The Shearer's Colt deals with the
task of selecting a great horse from a lot of promising yearlings with specific
instructions on what to look for. And in an unpublished manuscript Racehorses
and Racing in Australia, written midway through his career, he gave advice to
the prospective buyer of moderate means. Paterson went into meticulous detail
on the questions involved—pedigree, training, condition, betting, trials,
jockeys. During this period he was covering the yearling sales and occasionally
acting as an agent buying horses for others.
He never found his
wonder horse. At his death in 1941 his estate amounted to $1,100. Waltzing
Matilda was then becoming popular, much too late to do him any good. During
World War II the song became a colossal international hit, with French,
Italian, Brazilian, Classical Latin and other versions in existence. A second
wave of popularity occurred two decades later, when the song was used as the
theme of the highly successful movie On the Beach. At that time ten companies
in the U.S. released new records.
No figures on the
total worldwide earnings of Waltzing Matilda have been published, but they are
undoubtedly greater than the lifetime earnings of Man o' War or many another
wonder horse. But Banjo Paterson received only $26 for his wonder song.