IT HAS been 31 years since Tom Burlinson played Jim Craig in the legendary movie The Man from Snowy River.
Based on Banjo Paterson's poem of the same name, it was filmed in the Victorian Highlands and grossed about $17.2 million at the Australian box office, equivalent to more than $50.1m in 2009.
It was the third highest-grossing Australian film at the local box office between 1964 and 2009, second only to Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Babe (1992), and made Tom Burlinson a household name in Australia.
Tom starred in a number of other films during the '80s, including Windrider with Nicole Kidman, The Man from Snowy River II, and Hollywood film The Time Guardian, and continued to act into the '90s.
During the 1990s, he returned to the stage and also appeared on Ray Martin's Midday Show where he sang an ode to Frank Sinatra.
Tom successfully auditioned for a number of musicals and was noticed by Frank Sinatra's daughter Tina, who eventually utilised Tom's voice to replicate a young Frank in a mini-series she produced.
In 1998, Tom created and performed Frank, The Sinatra Story In Song, at major Australian venues.
He performed it twice at her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide where it was so well received that, when he returned in 2001 for the inaugural Cabaret Festival, the show, which had been changed to Frank - A Life In Song, had already grown a strong reputation.
"Then we were invited back again in 2008," Tom said.
"The show was running on and off in Australia and overseas for 12 years. We were very well supported."
Through the creation of Now We're Swingin', Tom wanted to look at material from the era beyond that of Frank Sinatra and celebrate some of his contemporaries.
His performance included songs sung by Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin, and Frank Sinatra.
"I tell a bit of a story between the songs, biographical information about those men and a bit of the history of swing music, how it went in and out of fashion over the years and how that affected their lives," Tom said.
"Generally, it's a celebration of some of the great songs of the 20th century pop music composers, like Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins, Cole Porter… the list goes on.
"Many of those songs have been revived recently by people like Harry Connick Junior, Robbie Williams and Michael Bublé."
Tom was born in Canada where he lived the early years of his life. He also lived in the United States and England.
His father, Anthony Burlinson, worked for an international company and as his career developed, his wife and family followed him "around the world".
When Anthony was eventually appointed the managing director of an Australian branch, the family moved to Australia and Tom became a citizen.
A career in acting followed after he was accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
While Tom has enjoyed his career as a singer, he makes appearances as an actor and is under no illusions about what kicked off his stardom.
"The Man from Snowy River is why some people come to my shows," he said.
"They love it and want me to sign their DVD, or an old photograph from way back when the movie was first released.
"It was a fantastic career opportunity as a young actor, and it was hugely successful, much more than we ever imagined when we were making it.
"Most actors would give their teeth for that kind of a job in their career."
Tom still returns to the high country of Victoria to visit the Lovick family, who taught him to ride and showed him the heritage of the region's cattlement.
"They've remained lifelong friends. It's not like the movie was something I did many years ago and I've grown away from it," Tom said.
"It's still very much a part of me."
He also participates in a Snowy River horse ride.
"I don't get on a horse all that often, but I did find during my preparation with that movie that I had a natural ability with horses and on horseback," Tom said.
"I'm not as good a rider as I was made to look in that film, but I really do enjoy it."