Waltzing Matilda

Australia's unofficial national anthem


Waltzing Matilda is certainly Australia's most popular folk song and bush ballad.
Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, journalist, author and bush poet, wrote the lyrics during a visit on Dagworth station near Winton, Queensland, in 1895, while the tune is connected to Christina Macpherson who lived at the station.

Mural showing the billabong scene in WintonOnce a jolly swagman...

Why is the song so popular? - Because it captures the Aussies' sense of freedom and independence.

The story is about a travelling worker (swagman) who camped by a waterhole (billabong), and stole a sheep to have a meal with his billy tea. When the owner of the jumbuck arrived with the police at the scene, the swagman rather drowned himself than going to prison.

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A lot of stories and folklore surround Waltzing Matilda and its creation. It is widely accepted that A.B. Paterson heard of the shearer's strikes in Queensland in the early 1890s while he visited Dagworth station. The woolshed of the property was also set on fire. Samuel Hoffmeister, one of those involved in the turmoil was chased by the police and shot himself near the Combo waterhole.

Waltzing Matilda has never been Australia's national anthem, but it is sung on many public occasions. It is Australian culture!

Sign that invites to experience the history of Waltzing Matilda along the walk to combo waterholeAlong the walking trail to Combo Waterhole

Combo waterhole near Kynuna, the place where it all happened

The 49ha Combo Waterhole Conservation Park is part of the Diamantina catchment, so you will find many waterholes there. Road access is about 13km south of Kynuna. From a car park you can take the interpretive walking trail (2.6 km return) to the waterhole.

Take plenty of water, it can get hot during the day.  My husband was not happy that I made him walk in the blazing sun at noon on a 35°C day.
Although the park is close to Kynuna, you need to be self-sufficient. Don't go after rain, the walking trail might be flooded.

Camping is not allowed in the park. However, it is worth to spend a few hours during the day, and watch the amazing birdlife.

A water puddle under some trees - the origins of the famous songCombo Waterhole

Waltzing Matilda - The Lyrics

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Refrain
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil
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.

Refrain ...

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thorough-bred
Down came the troopers One Two Three
Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Refrain ...

Up jumped the swagman sprang in to the billabong
You'll never catch me alive said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Refrain ...

Listen to John Williamson singing Waltzing Matilda

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