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[Swagman]Waltzing Matilda




Into this turbulent class war strode a young Sydney solicitor and poet by the name of Andrew Barton Paterson, who at the time was writing under the pen name of "The Banjo". Born near Orange (NSW) on a station which was owned and later managed by his father, Paterson was educated at Sydney Grammar School. He qualified as a solicitor but his adult life was divided between legal practice, journalism, and pastoral pursuits. It was during a shearing strike that a sequence of events took place that culminated in "The Banjo" writing a song that is now known throughout the world and forever stamped in the psyche of all Australians. This most absorbing and intriguing story of our national song with its unique blend of violence; union strikes; secret meetings in the dead of night; absentee landlords; suicide; fire; music; outback settings; class struggle; and a fascinating love affair, will, once exposed, forever excite the imagination of the public. And, when taken into context in its entirety, may well explain just why Waltzing Matilda makes us feel the way it does.


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If you thought that Waltzing Matilda was just a simple meaningless ditty about a sheep stealing swagman, then have we got a surprise for you!

In 1903 Marie Cowan rearranged the words and music to Banjo Paterson’s famous song Waltzing Matilda, and became a jingle to advertise Billy Tea.

Original Words
This is what Banjo and Christina originally wrote at Dagworth in January 1895.

Oh, there once was a swagman camped in the billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?


Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came the jumbuck to drink at the water-hole,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

Up came the Squatter a-ridding his thoroughbred,
Up came Policemen - one, two and three,
Whose is that jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

The swagman he up and he jumped in the water-hole,
Drowning himself by the coolibah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings by the billabong,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

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The Webmaster acknowledges the work and photo's of others used throughout this page, in particular Dennis O'Keeffe.