Who wrote Waltzing Matilda

The story of Waltzing Matilda

Australia's most famous bush ballad and unofficial national anthem was written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864-1941) in January 1895. "Waltzing Matilda", written to the tune of "The Craigielee March", has seen several versions of lyrics published in the last century; But they all have the same historical significance in terms of the rigors of the Australian outback.

What does "Waltzing Matilda" mean?

"Waltzing Matilda" is an iconic song with classic Aussie slang in both the lyrics and the title. The term "waltzing" is slang for traveling on foot, and often you will travel with your belongings in a "matilda". According to the National Library of Australia:

'Matilda is an ancient Teutonic female name that means' mighty battle maid'. This may have influenced the use of "Matilda" as a slang term for a de facto wife accompanying a hiker. In the Australian bush, a male was considered a sleeping partner, hence his Matilda.

Original Waltzing Matilda manuscript 1895 | © Christina Macpherson / WikiCommons

The story of a swagman

"Waltzing Matilda" tells the story of a swagman (a man who drifts or rolls from job to job, often wearing a blanket that was then known as Matilda) ') who camped under a tree. While he was waiting for his water to boil to make himself some cheap tea, a jumbuck (sheep) came by and he steals it by putting it in his backpack. However, when the owner asked three police officers what was in his backpack, he jumped into the watering hole and drowned and continues to haunt the place as a ghost.

Although this story is on the strike of Dagworth Station, there is a lot of folklore surrounding 'Waltzing Matilda' and the creation behind it. Because of the extensive list that goes with it, the Waltzing Matilda Center was built in Winton, Queensland.

Elderly Swagman | © unknown / WikiCommons

The blow of the large scissors

The year 1891 brought Australia's Great Shear Shearer's Strike and brought the colony on the verge of civil war after England gave Australia "self-government". Rebelling against the British system of wealthy landowners against the "peasants", the first strike was broken after the military was called up by Samuel Griffith, Prime Minister of Queensland. Unfortunately, the clippers at Dagworth Station went on strike again in 1894, firing rifles and pistols into the air when the blow became severe. During that strike, over 100 sheep were killed when the Dagworth Homestead Wool was set on fire.

It is believed that Paterson's popular song "Waltzing Matilda" brought social justice to the public eye. The Social Democrats of 1897-1898 established a constitution for Australia that allowed Australia to gain independence in 1900.

Soldiers at Dagworth Station during the 1894 scissor strike | © Unknown / WikiCommons

Creating 'Waltzing Matilda'

A few months after the Shearer's strike in 1894, Paterson visited the Macpherson family - Bob Macpherson was the owner of the Dagworth Homestead. During his stay, Bob Paterson drove around the train station When Bob and Paterson stopped in front of the Combo Waterhole, they found the skin of a recently killed sheep and suspected someone had made it into a meal, so Bob told him about an arsonist named Hof Fmeister, whom he hunted with three police officers at Combo Waterhole during the strike; but, instead of being captured, Hoffmeister shot himself.

One evening, Bob's daughter Christina was playing a tune she had heard at the Warrnambool obstacle course (horse racing) in Victoria called the "Craigielee March" on a zither. That was the beginning of this song, as Paterson explained on ABC radio in the early 1930s:

"The clippers went on strike and Macpherson's balls of wool at Dagworth were burned down and a man was found dead ... Miss Macpherson was playing a little Scottish tune on a zither and I gave her words and called her 'Waltzing Matilda'."

Combo water hole | © Alun Hoggett / WikiCommons // Banjo Patterson | © Unknown / WikiCommons

Australia's unofficial anthem

When 'Waltzing Matilda' was sold to the Billy Tea Company in the early 1900s to promote their product, the song became very famous. The song has more historical significance, however, as "Waltzing Matilda" made the public aware of social justice. Many believed that this should be our national anthem. In 1977 a national vote was held to determine the choice of the Australian national song, which resulted in "Advance Australia Fair" winning 43 percent of the vote, followed by Waltzing Matilda (28 percent), "God Save the Queen" . (19 percent) and "Song of Australia" (ten percent).

Performed in Queensland in April 1895 by Sir Herbert Ramsay and recorded for the first time in 1926 by John Collinson and Russell Callow, "Waltzing Matilda" carried the years, Introduced at the 1974 World Cup and 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Continuing in the sport, this song has gained popularity as the anthem of the Australian National Rugby Union team in response to New Zealand's All Blacks' haka won. To this day, this song is performed at the annual AFL Grand Final alongside the Advance Australia Fair.

In Australian culture, many have recordings of this song on the "Sounds of Australia" registry in the National Film and Sound Archive than any other song in the nation.


Author: Jacob Bishop

Jacob Bishop is a 65 year old journalist. Certified organizer. Twitter expert. Creator. Tvaholic. Social media geek. Future teen idol.