Lance 🐝 Scoular in bebee Australia, Lifestyle, beBee in English The Savvy Navigator 🐝 beBee Brand Ambassador • Key Directions Jan 25, 2018 · 2 min read · +900

Waltzing Matilda - Australia’s unofficial National Anthem

Waltzing Matilda - Australia’s unofficial National Anthem

Waltzing Matilda

Australia’s unofficial National Anthem
Lyrics by
 A.B. Paterson


Waltzing Matilda is Australia’s unofficial National Anthem and written as a poem by Andrew 'Banjo' (A.B.) Paterson (1864 - 1941) at old Dagworth Homestead, Queensland, Australia in January 1895

Waltzing Matilda the poem and the song is about a swagman, a “swaggie” or tramp, who camps by a creek and steals a sheep. Three policemen arrive, and rather than submit to capture, the “swaggie” commits suicide by drowning himself in the creek.

This tune is a traditional Scottish Melody.

Waltzing Matilda

Australia’s unofficial National Anthem
Lyrics by
 A.B. Paterson

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 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 till 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."


Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.
"Whose is that 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 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."


Slim Dusty - Waltzing Matilda - Video

Video of Slim sitting by a campfire singing Waltzing Matilda, interspersed with shots of a swaggie.

Run Time 3:22

Waltzing Matilda has almost become Australia's national identity.  If you hear Waltzing Matilda an Aussie is involved somewhere along the way.

Words and Meanings in the Lyrics


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.[13]


a romantic term for a swagman's bundle. See below, "Waltzing Matilda."

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.


a man who travelled the country looking for work. The swagman's "swag" was a bed roll that bundled his belongings.


an oxbow lake (a cut-off river bend) found alongside a meandering river.

Coolabah Tree

a kind of eucalyptus tree which grows near billabongs.


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.


a can for boiling water in, usually 2–3 pints.

Tucker bag

a bag for carrying food ("tucker").




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. The squatter's claim to the land may be as uncertain as the swagman's claim to the jumbuck.

Squatter in this instance means landowner

Billabong means drinking spot or pool in an intermittent stream

Because of the very dry conditions in out-back Australia, streams and rivers can often become dry leaving only a few water-holes where stock are able to drink

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Lance 🐝 Scoular Jan 26, 2018 · #7

🇦🇺 Today, 26 January 2018, is Australia Day.

Here are some other Australiana beBee Posts:

Clancy of the Overflow - Poem by by A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

Pub with No Beer - Aussie Song

THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER - Poem by A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

My Country by Dorothea Mackellar - the written poem and spoken on video

Lance 🐝 Scoular Jan 26, 2018 · #6

#3 Ha Ha 😎

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Lance 🐝 Scoular Jan 26, 2018 · #5

#2 👍😎🇦🇺

Lance 🐝 Scoular Jan 26, 2018 · #4

#1 👍😎🇦🇺

Gert Scholtz Jan 25, 2018 · #3

@Lance 🐝 Scoular Interesting to read about Australia's Waltzing Matilda - thank you Lance. Now I know what a Billabong is and that the tune came from Scotland - I just wonder if it was not @Ken Boddie who brought it over from his country of birth?

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Debasish Majumder Jan 25, 2018 · #2

lovely buzz @Lance 🐝 Scoular! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

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Savvy Raj Jan 25, 2018 · #1

. Have heard it a lot in my childhood years , but thank you for the interesting information.@Lance 🐝 ScoularThank you for writing and sharing about this song

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