Based on A. B. (Banjo) Paterson's classic poem, The Man from Snowy River is a coming-of-age story set in the Snowy River highlands of Northern Victoria and southern NSW in about 1880. Young stockman Jim Craig has lived his first eighteen years in the mountains.The death of his father forces him to leave the family property and go to the low lands to earn enough money to get it back in operation. He finds work on the property of the wealthy Mr Harrison, but when a valuable colt runs off to join a mob of brumbies in the highlands, he is forced to get it back and hopefully clear his name. Harrison offers a reward, which brings to the hunt dozens of the best horsemen in the district (including Clancy of the Overflow). Unimpressed by Jim's undersized mountain horse, Harrison and the other stockmen suggest that he stay behind. Jim uses his knowledge of the mountains and his horse's experience to track the colt down and bring it home. He doesn't ride so much for the reward, however, as to prove his worth to Harrison's headstrong daughter Jessica.
The narrative's sub-plot sees Jim and Jessica caught in the middle of a twenty-year-old feud between Harrison and his twin brother, Spur (who was also Jim's father's best friend and Jessica's now-dead mother's former true love).