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The Waltzing Matilda Song
A True Blue Aussie Legend


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Waltzing Matilda has become part of Australian Folklore and one of the Australian Myths shaping the Australian Identity

To most Australians, singing this bush ballad stirs something down deep inside, a real patriotic pride.

The original lyrics were written in 1895 by poet and nationalist Banjo Paterson.

It was first published as sheet music in 1903.

The music was written (based on a folk tune) by Christina Macpherson.

To totally understand the song you need to understand the terminology.

Once A Jolly Swagman Camped By A Billabong

The Waltzing Matilda Song has become part of Australin Folklore and one of the Australian Myths shaping the Australian Identity

The Waltzing Matilda Song Glossary


Old bush swagman resting on his swag
  • Matilda-a romantic Australian folklore term for a swagman's bundle
  • Walzing Matilda-is to travel with a swag
  • Swagman-man who walked the country looking for work
  • Swag-a bed roll or blanket that carried the swagman's belongings
  • Billabong-an oxbow or elbow lake forming a cut off section of a meandering river
  • Coolibah Tree-a species of eucalypt tree growing by the riverbank
  • Jumbuck-a wild sheep and hard to catch. Not owned by the squatter and therefore unable to be actually stolen
  • Billy-a can for boiling water and that great Aussie Tea Brew
  • Tucker Bag-a bag for carrying food
  • Troopers-Policemen
  • Squatter-An old time farmer raising livestock on land that they did not legally own or have a right to use.Years later in the twentieth century the word was refined to mean a person who occupied or resided at a property illegally.

Such A Jolly Swagman - Fence Art

Humping The Bluey

Jolly Swagman compliments of http://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/580854727/

My dear friend Carol, over in England writes about Old Weston, a tiny Cambridgeshire village and the fact that:

In 1838 two convicts transported to Australia for sheep stealing were William Quincey and Hayes Savage.

Both men came from Old Weston families.

You can read the full story here at Convicts transported to Australia from Old Weston

I just wonder if they continued their skill when they reached Australia?

One of them just may have been the character depicted in Waltzing Matilda.






I have designed this unique Swagman Tea Towel as a memento to celebrate the 'good old Swaggie'

You can customize it to your liking by just clicking on this 'Customize It' button and following the simple directions.

This could make a fantastic gift to send overseas for that special occassion.


Australian Fun Facts - Waltzing Matilda

  • The Waltzing Matilda Song is probably Australia's most widely known bush ballad and sometimes referred to as the country's unofficial national anthem.
  • Humping the bluey is another term for carrying the swag or waltzing the Matilda.
  • Derived from an old Teutonic female name meaning mighty battle maid, Matilda has been used as a slang term to mean a defacto wife who accompanied a wanderer. The Australian Swaggie carried a swag and it was regarded as his sleeping partner - believe it or not.
  • The Swagman is an old Australian term that describes a roaming worker who moved from farm to farm looking for that odd job or two. He carried his swag, his blanket that stored his precious possessions and wore a wide brimmed hat that had corks hanging from it to chase off the flies.
  • The bush lyrics were written by Banjo Patterson in 1895.
  • The ownership of this rousing bush ballad is still held in great dispute. For a full run down and update on this on going battle I refer you to the National Library of Australia.
  • German immigrants told the story that the German soldiers referred to their greatcoats as Matilda. These coats kept them warm not unlike the warmth of a woman. These early immigrants who then went off on the waltz would wrap their belongings up in their coats and referred to this bundle as a Matilda - believe it or not
  • It was lawful in Australia for a marooned and hungry traveler to kill and consume a farmer's sheep, however it had to be eaten there on the property. The hide was usually hung across the fence to let the farmer know someone had eaten one of his sheep - believe it or not

Jolly Swagman Boiling The Billy - Fence Art

Jolly Swagman Boiling The Billy - Fence Art http://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/580854823/

The Waltzing Matilda Song Lyrics


Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolabah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

*
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
"You'll never take me alive", said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

*
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."
"Oh, You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."

Banjo Patterson

Tribute To Banjo Paterson - Orange - NSW

Tribute To Banjo Paterson - Orange - NSW compliments of http://www.flickr.com/photos/pikerslanefarm/3452515221/

There is a Waltzing Matilda Center in:

Winton, Queensland

50 Elderslie Street

Winton Qld 4735

Mail to: PO Box 286

Winton, Queensland 4735




The Waltzing Matilda Book Store


I have put together a selection of books that may be of interest to you, all with the Waltzing Matilda song connection.


Click onto any of the links for more information.






Find out at this center why the Waltzing Matilda song is as relevant to Australians today as it was over 110 years ago and for now enjoy this rendition of the "Waltzing Matilda Song" sung by another Australian Legend - Slim Dusty.

More Aussie Legends and Myths Below



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