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Jack Riley’s last ride

The final installment of Jack Riley's life story occurred in the winter of 1914. Jack, by then in his seventies, still lived in his hut surrounded by his own forty acres of mountain country. Word reached friends near Corryong that Jack was seriously ill and some of these mates decided to take Jack to the Corryong Hospital. The following is an abridged account of the events that followed. The original account, as reported in the  Melbourne's newspaper, The Argus, 17 July 1914, is titled 'The Man From Snowy River'. Mr. W. Findlay, a well-known Kosciuszko guide, left first for Groggin and later Messrs. A. and J. McInnes, F. Jarvis, and R. Butler, with a stretcher and other equipment, departed. Soon after reaching Groggin, the men strapped the frail and poorly Jack to the stretcher and began the slow and arduous journey, on foot, back to Corryong. The first four or five miles caused little trouble but when it came time to climb out of the gorge over the shoulder of Hermit Hill, problems began to arise. The intended track, ascending over 2,000 feet, was covered in thick scrub and rocks and, to make matters worse, snow began to fall and intensely cold conditions descended upon the party. Such a situation called for quick thinking. The solution to this dilemma naturally came in the form of a horse. Jack's half unconscious body was hauled up onto the back of one of the horses and Butler, the lightest of his friends, jumped up behind Jack and held onto him and the reins. A man either side of the mounted party helped to support Jack on the slow journey upwards. Snow continued to fall as the party arrived at Hermit's Creek late that afternoon. The group put Jack back on the stretcher and carried him to Surveyor's Creek Junction, where they sheltered the night in a deserted mining hut.
While the others tried to make Jack as comfortable as possible for the night, Mr. Jarvis went up the creek to the tin mine to ask for some assistance in the morning. Jack rallied a little and spoke a few words to his friends but, alas, shortly after succumbed to his illness. It is upon reflection that this was probably how it should be, that out among the great tall trees with the rain falling gently on the hut roof the old man exhaled his last breath. The next morning Jack's body was carried eight miles into Bunroy in a little over four hours. Four miles further on, Messrs. K. Findlay and K. Pendergast met the party with a buggy to complete the journey to Corryong. In the presence of his mates and other friends, the body of Jack Riley was interred in the Corryong Cemetery on July 16, 1914.
“The Man From Snowy River’ Country of North-Eastern Victoria & Southern NSW