The Man for the Snowy River

Noah and Neroli Vasiliades take gospel ministry to the High Country

‘The Man from the Snowy River’ is a well-known Australian poem by Banjo Paterson and was first published in 1895. It speaks of Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales, the highest mountain peak in Australia and the Snowy River originating from that region. The river, immortalised in the poem, flows southward through the Eastern Victorian highlands. The poem and subsequent film have helped secure the rugged and majestic high country and surrounding regions in the hearts of many Australians.

For years the Presbyterian Inland Mission (PIM) has looked at this remote and sparsely populated region and considered how it might engage in gospel mission there. In 2008, there were serious discussions between PIM, the Presbytery of Canberra, the Presbytery of Gippsland, along with local congregations about a coordinated strategy to realise gospel work across East Gippsland and South-East NSW. Considerable work was done exploring options, but sadly no plan ever progressed due to a lack of funding, and the lack of a suitable patrol team. More discussions took place in 2015, but again, nothing eventuated.

Then, in what can only be described as God’s appointed time, an anonymous donor approached the PIM with a substantial financial gift to kick start gospel ministry in the isolated parts of the East Gippsland and up into the Snowy River regions. The donor held historic links to Buldah and during his more recent visits through the area, was repeatedly struck by the lack of any real gospel presence. There was a heavy burden for the people of East Gippsland, and a desire for this lack of gospel light to change. 

With one part of the jigsaw now in place, and with agreement from the Presbyteries involved, the PIM could advertise for a suitable team. Thanks be to God, there was a strong response and real interest. After prayer and a thorough interview process, Noah and Neroli Vasiliades were appointed. From the committee’s perspective, they were the perfect fit.

Noah and Neroli are both members of the Drouin Presbyterian Church within the Presbytery of Gippsland. An accredited tree climber and arborist by profession, Noah had spent years working throughout Gippsland and in mountainous terrain. Together with his wife, they had also spent much of their recreation time in the high country, and both had a love for the area and the people. Nerroli was also Gippsland born and bred. Along with her family, she was involved at the Morwell Presbyterian Church and had always had a desire to reach others for Christ. She had worked with Open Air Campaigners ministries at Belgrave Heights, Rosebud SU Beach missions, THEOS outreach at Tidal River, and Southern Cross Kids’ Camps.

Together, they were a couple who were both ready and willing to serve, and the ministry area was one ideally suited for them to do this. Noah is described by all who know him as the natural evangelist. He can start up a conversation with anyone and shape the discussion to encourage people to think of issues that are eternal. He is a disciple maker who is at home in the high country.

So, the realisation of a long-held dream is about to commence. After much prayer, many years of planning, generous financial donations, a gifted team with a heart for the area, and the prayerful and practical support of Christ’s church, ministry is set to begin. In the mountainous border area between Victoria and NSW, where there are few, if any, Bible teaching churches and very little Gospel witness, there will now be a Patrol Team seeking to take every opportunity to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reality was once that long term residents in this remote area could be born, live out their lives and then die without genuinely encountering the gospel of the Lord Jesus. The prayer of the PIM is that this possibility will now be significantly less likely.

Noah and Nerroli will be formally set apart by the PIM for the work on the 18th December at their home congregation at Drouin. They will be living in the former Presbyterian Manse at Bombala. If you would like to receive prayer updates from them or financially contribute to their work, please visit the PIM website at

Hugh Castleden

CEO, Presbyterian Inland Mission