Waltzing Matilda

by Banjo Paterson, modified in 1903 by Marie Cowan for a Billy Tea advertisement

Billabong in Queensland, Australia
Billabong in Queensland, Australia | Photo by Alun Hoggett | CC BY 3.0

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:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

Chorus:
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.”

(Chorus)

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.
“Where’s the jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

(Chorus)

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
“You’ll never take me alive!” said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

(Chorus)

Glossary: The lyrics contain many distinctively Australian terms, some of which have fallen out of common use.

  • billabong: a lake formed by a cut-off river bend
  • billy: a can for boiling water inwaltzing: walking
  • coolibah tree: a kind of eucalyptus tree
  • jumbuck: a sheep
  • Matilda: a romantic term for a swag
  • squatter: one who farms or raises livestock on land which he does not have a legal right to use
  • swag: a bundle carried on the back, usually with belongings wrapped in a bedroll
  • swagman: a man who travelled the country looking for work
  • troopers: policemen
  • tucker: food
  • tucker bag: a bag for carrying food
  • Waltzing Matilda: traveling with a swag

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