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Waltzing Matilda is probably the most famous song to ever come out of Australia.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not their national anthem (that is Advance Australia Fair).  There is no official version, this one is the version used by the Seekers.


Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree.
He sang and he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."

Waltzing Matilda, Matilda, my darlin',
You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me.
He sang and he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."



Swagman = itinerant worker or journeyman
Billabong = an oxbow lake formed by a river changing course
Coolibah tree = a type of eucalyptus
Billy = a makeshift kettle

Matilda is slang for a swagman's swag, or bundle, containing his possessions.
Waltzing is slang for traveling as a journeyman.
Thus waltzing Matilda is to travel with a swag

A traveling journeyman camped under a eucalyptus tree
along side a lake and started boiling water, probably for tea.



Well, down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong;
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
He laughed as he stowed the jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."

Waltzing Matilda, Matilda, my darlin',
You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me.
He laughed as he stowed the jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."



Jumbuck = an unshorn sheep
Tucker-bag = a bag for carrying food

A sheep came up to the lake to get a drink and the journeyman caught it, presumably butchered it, and placed the meat in his food bag.



Well, up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred;
Up rode 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, Matilda, my darlin',
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."



Squatter = a person who raised livestock on land he did not own.  Over time, a squatter could gain control of the land and become wealthy.
Troopers = policemen

A squatter, presumably wealthy because he can afford a thoroughbred horse, rides up with 3 policemen and accuses the journeyman of stealing his sheep, a capital offense at the time.



Well, up jumped the swagman and jumped into the billabong;
"You'll never take me alive," said he.
His ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."

Waltzing Matilda, Matilda, my darlin',
You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me.
His ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."



The journeyman had little chance of escaping from 4 men on horseback, so he jumped into the lake and drowned.  His ghost haunts the lake afterward.

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