Wongawilli Colonial
Dance Club Inc.

PO Box 463
Warilla, 2528


Brian Godden     phone: 02 42967780

Waltzing Matilda - A Colourful History

There is much opinion about the origins of the music for Waltzing Matilda.

For a recorded version by Wongawilli go to: www.myspace.com/wongawilliband

This version of Waltzing Matilda is from a manuscript by Christina McPherson and given to Mr & Mrs W. B. Bartlam in May, 1895 at the Winton Race Carnival. The manuscript was then passed onto Richard Magoffin 76 years later and published in his book on Waltzing Matilda.

The words were composed by Banjo Paterson.


The tune is Christina's recollection of the Craigielee March as arranged by brass bandmaster Thomas Bulch (aka Godfrey Parker) from the original Scottish tune Bonnie Wood of Craigielea.

The tune was played in April 1894 at the Warnambool Races in Victoria. Included in the programme of music was the Argyle Schottische, After The Ball, Jeannie Gray, Fantasia, Bohemian Girl, Old Times Quadrilles, Brave Barnaby, Serenade, Twilight Whisperings and the Jacobite March.

Christina heard the tune at the races and played it for Banjo at Dagworth Station, Queensland, in 1895.

Waltzing Matilda

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


Who'll a 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 a jumbuck to drink at the billabong.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he said as he put him away in the tucker bag,
You'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me.


Down came the squatter a'riding his thoroughbred
Down came policemen, one, two and three.
'Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tuckerbag?
You'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me?'


But the swagman, he up and he jumped in the waterhole,
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.

Compiled by Dennis O'Keeffe and David De Santi, May 1995. Music original except first line and second line of chorus which in the original manuscript contained too many notes for 3 of the 4 bars. The music for these lines here have been based on a restoration by David Johnson (printed in the Bush Music Club's Mulga Wire Singabout No. 69, October 1988) and from the original manuscript.

Reference: Waltzing Matilda - Song of Australia by Richard Magoffin, 1983, Mimosa Press, North Queensland.

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