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The Story of Waltzing Matilda
In the light of the fact that many old swagmen carry in their swag pieces of women’s finery—the following story as to the origin of the term, “Waltzing Matilda” in my opinion, carries weight as to its authenticity.
It is claimed that Matilda was a real person, indeed the first woman swaggie to be seen in the Australian outback.
It seems that she and her husband Joe, were very well known characters. Their surname was unknown, and she was always known Mrs Swaggey Joe. Matilda and Joe were so happy, living their carefree life, tramping the outback year in year out, odd jobs for tucker, here and there. Winter and summer Joe, with his bluely on his back, Matilda with smaller swag on hers, content in each others company, wishing for nothing better.
But love knows no obstacles, and Matilda defied the conventions.
But came the day when they were no longer young, and had grown old and feeble. They were offered a home by a kindly couple but regretfully refused, saying that they could never live indoors like other folks, and would go on until they came to the end of the track.
Then one sad day Matilda was taken ill in the morning and died at mid-day. Swage Joe dug her grave at the foot of an old gum tree and sat with his arms around her till it grew dark. Then he buried her.
Early next morning, with heavy heart and tear dimming his eyes, Joe hitched up his bluely and remarked, “Oh, well, Bluey, you’ll have to be my Matilda now and we’ll waltz along together till the end.”
From then on Joe was known to place his bluey against the butt of a tree and talk to it, addressing it as Matilda. And many are they who today tramp the outback with maybe just a memory of a loved one to keep them company.
Go to: http://www.waltzingmatilda.com/wmhome.html for the story of the original words and a copy of the manuscript and music of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Patterson in © 1890.
1. Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
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