Waltzing Matilda
Waltzing Matilda
A.B. Paterson and Mary Cowan

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

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

Down came a jumbuck to drink from the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he stowed 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 stowed 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, leapt into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive," said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"
Original version by A.B. (Banjo) Paterson
There are several versions of Waltzing Matilda. the most commonly sung version today is by Mary Cowan.
"Waltzing Matilda" is Australia's most widely known folk song, and one that has been popularly suggested as a
potential national anthem.

The original lyrics were written in 1895 by the poet and nationalist Banjo Paterson, and the music was written
(based on a folk tune) by Christina Macpherson, who wrote herself that she "was no musician, but she would do
her best." and it was first published as sheet music in 1903.

Extensive folklore surrounds the song and the process of its creation, to the extent that the song has its own
museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland.

The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker making a crude cup of tea at a bush camp and stealing a sheep
to eat. When the sheep's owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker, he drowns himself in a small
lake and goes on to haunt the site.
The lyrics contain many distinctively Australian words, some now rarely used in Australian English outside this
song. These include:

swagman  
a man who travelled the country looking for work. The swagman's "swag" was a bed roll that bundled his
belongings.
waltzing  
derived from the German term auf der Walz, which means to travel while working as a craftsman and learn new
techniques from other masters before returning home after three years and one day, a custom which is still in use
today among carpenters.
Matilda  
a romantic term for a swagman's bundle.
Waltzing Matilda  
from the above terms, "to waltz Matilda" is to travel with a swag, that is, with all one's belongings on one's back
wrapped in a blanket or cloth. The exact origins of the term "Matilda" are disputed; one fanciful derivation states
that when swagmen met each other at their gatherings, there were rarely women to dance with. Nonetheless, they
enjoyed a dance, and so they danced with their swags, which was given a woman's name. However, this appears
to be influenced by the word "waltz", hence the introduction of dancing. It seems more likely that, as a swagman's
only companion, the swag came to be personified as a woman.
Another explanation is that the term also derives from German immigrants. German soldiers commonly referred to
their greatcoats as "Matilda," supposedly because the coat kept them as warm as a woman would. Early German
immigrants who "went on the waltz" would wrap their belongings in their coat, and took to calling it by the same
name their soldiers had used.
billabong  
an oxbow lake (a cut-off river bend) found alongside an undulating river.
coolibah tree  
a kind of eucalyptus tree which grows near billabongs.
jumbuck  
a large difficult to shear sheep, not a tame sheep. Implies that the sheep was not 'owned' by the squatter or
regularly shorn, thus not able to be stolen by the swagman.
billy  
a can for boiling water in, usually 2-3 pints.
tucker bag  
a bag for carrying food ("tucker").
troopers  
policemen.
squatter  
Australian squatters started as early farmers who raised livestock on land which they did not legally have the right
to use; in many cases they later gained legal use of the land even though they did not have full possession, and
became wealthy thanks to these large land holdings.

















Andre playing 'Waltzing Matilda' in the Warringah Mall in Sydney.