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y separately published work icon Waltzing Matilda : Carrying a Swag single work   poetry   "Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the billabong,"
Alternative title: Waltzing Matilda
  • Author:agent A. B. Paterson
Issue Details: First known date: 1895... 1895 Waltzing Matilda : Carrying a Swag
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  • While staying at Dagworth Station near Winton, Queensland, in January 1895, Paterson heard a tune played by Christina Macpherson to which he wrote the lyrics Waltzing Matilda.
  • Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia 1942 has composer as Marie Cowan.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Form: musical notation
      ca. 1895 .
      Alternative title: Original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda Music and Lyrics, Papers Relating to the Song 'Waltzing Matilda', National Library of Australia, MS 9065, 3
      Link: U2332Web resource Sighted: 22/02/2006
      Extent: (2 p., incl. 1 double-size folded page).p.
      (Manuscript) assertion
      • Original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda music, with lyrics and signed by Christina Macpherson, part of papers relating to the song Waltzing Matilda held at the National Library of Australia.


      Held at: National Library of Australia
      Local Id: MS 9065
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: James Inglis & Co. , 1903 .
      Extent: 1 folded sheetp.
      • Music arranged by Marie Cowan for a Billy Tea advertisement. This version is the origin of the 'popular version' sung today. (National Treasures website)
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The School Paper : Grades V and VI no. 481 June 1940 Z1503561 1940 periodical issue children's 1940 pg. 80
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Verse from 1805 : A Continuum Geoffrey Dutton (editor), Adelaide : Rigby , 1976 Z399014 1976 anthology Adelaide : Rigby , 1976 pg. 77-78
      Grosvenor Place, Sydney City, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: 1999 .
      Extent: 1 score (11 p.)p.
      • Reproduced and distributed by Australian Music Centre.
      • Facsimile of composer's score.
      • For two soloists, 2-part children's choir and mixed ensemble. Music arranged by Ann Carr-Boyd.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Banjo Paterson Treasury A. B. Paterson , 2013 Z1933217 2013 selected work poetry short story 2013 pg. 109-100
Alternative title: Waltzing Matilda
First line of verse: "Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,"
This version is the generally well-known 'Popular Version'.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Saltbush Bill, J. P., and Other Verses A. B. Paterson , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1917 Z822801 1917 selected work poetry Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1917 pg. 23-24
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Salt vol. 3 no. 4 27 April 1942 Z1187969 1942 periodical issue 1942 pg. 8-9
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Bush Songs and Ballads Will Lawson (editor), Sydney : Frank Johnson , 1944 Z331491 1944 anthology poetry Sydney : Frank Johnson , 1944 pg. 77-78
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Boomerang Book of Australian Poetry Enid Moodie Heddle (editor), Melbourne : Longmans, Green , 1956 Z380628 1956 anthology poetry children's Melbourne : Longmans, Green , 1956 pg. 145
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Penguin Australian Song Book J. S. Manifold , Ringwood : Penguin , 1964 Z406059 1964 anthology poetry Ringwood : Penguin , 1964 pg. 160-161
    Note: With musical score.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them John Meredith (editor), Hugh Anderson (editor), Sydney : Ure Smith , 1967 Z456559 1967 anthology poetry criticism biography interview Sydney : Ure Smith , 1967 pg. 73-74
    Note: First line: 'A swagman sat, on the banks of the billybong.'
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Old Australian Ballads : An Anthology W. N. Walker (editor), Sydney : School Projects , 1967 Z1569531 1967 anthology poetry children's

    Collection of well known Australian songs and ballads, divided into sections based on the historical subject matter: 'Ball and Chain', 'Bail Up', 'The Roaring Days', 'Where's Your Licence?', 'Stockmen', 'Wool Away!' and 'Such is Life'.

    The sections - and some of the individual works - are prefaced with educational introductions by the editor explaining historical context as well as terms and concepts.

    Australian Scene : Australian Ballads
    Sydney : School Projects , 1967
    pg. 45
    Note: With first line: There was a jolly swagman, camping by a billabong,
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Kaleidoscope Barbara Ker Wilson (editor), Sydney : Collins , 1968 Z456759 1968 anthology prose poetry young adult Sydney : Collins , 1968 pg. 149-150
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Collins Book of Australian Poetry Rodney Hall , Sydney : Collins , 1981 Z542215 1981 anthology poetry Sydney : Collins , 1981 pg. 66-67
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Bushwackers Australian Song Book Jan Wositzky (editor), Dobe Newton (editor), South Yarra : Sphere , 1988 Z240373 1988 anthology poetry short story extract humour South Yarra : Sphere , 1988 pg. 46-47
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon An Anthology of Commonwealth Poetry C. D. Narasimhaiah (editor), Chennai : Macmillan , 1990 Z1176727 1990 anthology poetry Chennai : Macmillan , 1990 pg. 67-68
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Reconnoitres : Essays in Australian Literature in Honour of G. A. Wilkes Margaret Harris (editor), Elizabeth Webby (editor), South Melbourne : Sydney University Press in association with Oxford University Press , 1992 Z151560 1992 anthology prose criticism biography South Melbourne : Sydney University Press in association with Oxford University Press , 1992 pg. 240
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson A. B. Paterson , Clement Semmler (editor), South Yarra : Viking O'Neil , 1992 Z506304 1992 collected work poetry satire humour Ringwood : Penguin , 1993 pg. 68-69
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Advertiser 26 January 1994 Z623012 1994 newspaper issue 1994 pg. 15
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Advertiser 28 March 1995 Z604327 1995 newspaper issue 1995 pg. 27
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Waltzing Matilda and Other Nursery Rhymes : History Behind the Humour Richard Magoffin , Kynuna : Matilda Expo , 1998 Z1277192 1998 selected work poetry criticism Kynuna : Matilda Expo , 1998 pg. 70
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Classic Australian Verse Maggie Pinkney (editor), Noble Park : Five Mile Press , 2001 Z864790 2001 anthology poetry Noble Park : Five Mile Press , 2001 pg. 269-270
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Sunlines : An Anthology of Poetry to Celebrate Australia's Harmony in Diversity Anne Fairbairn (editor), Canberra : Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs , 2002 Z948024 2002 anthology poetry Canberra : Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs , 2002 pg. 15-16
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Poetry Library APRIL; APL; The Australian Poetry Resources Internet Library John Tranter , Sydney : 2004- Z1368099 2004- website

    'The Australian Poetry Library (APL) aims to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of Australian poetry by providing access to a wide range of poetic texts as well as to critical and contextual material relating to them, including interviews, photographs and audio/visual recordings.

    This website currently contains over 42,000 poems, representing the work of more than 170 Australian poets. All the poems are fully searchable, and may be accessed and read freely on the World Wide Web. Readers wishing to download and print poems may do so for a small fee, part of which is returned to the poets via CAL, the Copyright Agency Limited. Teachers, students and readers of Australian poetry can also create personalised anthologies, which can be purchased and downloaded. Print on demand versions will be availabe from Sydney University Press in the near future.

    It is hoped that the APL will encourage teachers to use more Australian material in their English classes, as well as making Australian poetry much more available to readers in remote and regional areas and overseas. It will also help Australian poets, not only by developing new audiences for their work but by allowing them to receive payment for material still in copyright, thus solving the major problem associated with making this material accessible on the Internet.

    The Australian Poetry Library is a joint initiative of the University of Sydney and the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL). Begun in 2004 with a prototype site developed by leading Australian poet John Tranter, the project has been funded by a major Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC), CAL and the University of Sydney Library. A team of researchers from the University of Sydney, led by Professor Elizabeth Webby and John Tranter, in association with CAL, have developed the Australian Poetry Library as a permanent and wide-ranging Internet archive of Australian poetry resources.' Source: (Sighted 30/05/2011).

    Sydney : 2004-
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Two Centuries of Australian Poetry Kathrine Bell (editor), Smithfield : Gary Allen , 2007 Z1472336 2007 anthology poetry Smithfield : Gary Allen , 2007 pg. 66-67
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Banjo Paterson : The Man Who Wrote Waltzing Matilda Derek Parker , Warriewood : Woodslane Press , 2009 Z1647168 2009 single work biography ' A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson was not simply the author of the words of Waltzing Matilda, Australia's unofficial national anthem, and many other classic ballads such as The Man from Snowy River and Clancy of the Overflow. Though it is now almost forgotten, he was a first-rate war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald. His dispatches from the Boer War are as vivid and exciting to read today as when they were frantically scribbled under the guns of Boer sharp-shooters, and delivered on daring rides from the front to the nearest telephone office. He was a friend of 'Breaker' Morant, whose notorious trial and execution was one of the sensations of that war. He was also an expert horseman, a man who knew everything there was to be known about horses and horse-racing, winning prizes at polo matches and race meetings. Returning from South Africa, The Banjo (as he always signed himself) worked for Sydney newspapers, and travelled to China and England (where he stayed with his friend, the poet Rudyard Kipling), and for a while led a relatively sedentary life as editor of the Sydney Evening News. At the outbreak of World War One, he failed to get accreditation as a war correspondent, and served as an ambulance driver in France, and finally to Egypt where he headed a team of rough-riders and trained horses. Major Paterson came back to Sydney to edit The Sportsman and the earliest collection of traditional bush songs, and to become a popular and well-known broadcaster in the early days of radio. By the time he died everyone in Australia knew the verses of Waltzing Matilda but scarcely anyone could have told you they had been written by 'Banjo' Paterson as he had sold the copyright outright for five pounds!' Source: Dust jacket. Warriewood : Woodslane Press , 2009 pg. 185-186
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon 60 Classic Australian Poems for Children Chris Cheng (editor), Sydney : Random House Australia , 2009 Z1656747 2009 anthology poetry children's

    'The 60 poems in this collection appear in their original, or near original, form and are wide-ranging in their subject matter: animals, the countryside, the struggle of bush life, early transport, sport, growing old, being young and having fun with words! But whether they are humorous, serious or playful, they are simply a joy to read!

    No matter if we grew up reciting these classic poems at school, quote from them on important occasions or are meeting them for the first time, there is no doubt that these classic poems embody what it is to be Australian.'

    Source: Publisher's blurb.

    Sydney : Random House Australia , 2009
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Stars Like Sand : Australian Speculative Poetry Tim Jones (editor), P. S. Cottier (editor), Carindale : Interactive Publications , 2014 7276800 2014 anthology poetry

    'Travel to the stars and beyond in this anthology by Australia's leading poets. Witness the end of the world, time travel to the future near or far, or teleport with a fairy or witch.

    Ghosts, dreams and strange creatures breed and mingle in these pages.

    Poetry has never been so mind-bending, or so entertaining.' (Publisher's blurb)

    Carindale : Interactive Publications , 2014
    pg. 111

Works about this Work

The Ghost and the Billabong i "Now, let us be clear.", Bill Cotter , 2021 single work poetry
— Appears in: Polestar , no. 40 2021; (p. 12)
Banjo and Berlioz : The Matilda Fugue Diana Figgis , 2021 single work essay
— Appears in: Quadrant , January / February vol. 65 no. 1/2 2021; (p. 118-130)
'In 1831, at the age of twenty-seven, Hector Berlioz wrote the “Intrata di Rob-Roy MacGregor”. He began composing the overture in May at Nice, and completed the orchestration in June when he was in Italy.' (Introduction)
Ghosting in the Outback Noir Greg Dolgopolov , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: Coolabah , no. 29 2021; (p. 4-16)
'Who was the ‘jolly swagman’ in Waltzing Matilda, Australia’s unofficial national anthem? In this essay I argue that the ghost of the swagman can be heard in a number of recent de-colonising crime narratives. Outback Noir is a relatively recent genre category that describes a new wave of Australian crime films that highlight Indigenous and white relations and take a revisionist approach to traditional history. These films often feature redemption stories that highlight effective collaborations between Indigenous and white policing practices. Uncovering a rural communities’ dark, repressed secrets in order to solve a current problem is a common trend in Outback Noir cinema. I examine Patrick Hughes’ 2010 film Red Hill as an early provocative example of Outback Noir and as modern reimaging of the Waltzing Matilda narrative with the swagman’s avenging ghost exposing the social fractures and corruption that are destroying rural communities. I argue that the Outback Noir genre with its focus on revenge-redemption narratives shapes the cultural dialogue around putting the ghosts of the colonial past to rest.'  (Publication abstract)
Capturing Gossamer : A Waltz with Matilda Diana Figgis , 2020 single work essay
— Appears in: Quadrant , January / February vol. 64 no. 1/2 2020; (p. 116-127)
y separately published work icon Waltzing Matilda, Australia's Accidental Anthem : A Forensic History W. Benjamin Lindner , Salisbury : Boolarong Press , 2019 15862046 2019 multi chapter work criticism

'This song that started as an accidental collaboration in outback Queensland in 1895 caused the death of a seven-year relationship and went on to inspire a nation during World War II, following Banjo Paterson’s death in 1941.

'Waltzing Matilda ─ Australia’s Accidental Anthem written by a criminal barrister, is a forensic history of the events, the people and the places that led to the writing of Australia’s internationally famous song. This evidence-based approach dispels many of the myths and historical inaccuracies that have become folklore.

'The facts about the swagman, the contribution of Christina Macpherson and Sarah Riley and the timing and the place of the composition are all revealed.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Matildology J. S. Manifold , 1967 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Realist , Autumn 1967; (p. 28-29)
y separately published work icon Who'll Come a Waltzing Matilda with Me? National Library of Australia , Canberra : National Library of Australia , 2003 Z1010594 2003 website 'This site aims to reveal some of the important primary and secondary sources that have informed the stories, myths and interpretations behind the song.' The site details the origins of the lyrics and tune for Waltzing Matilda, and the various versions of each. Word meanings are explained and the place of the song in Australia's culture is examined.
The Ghost of the Swagman Paul Keating , 1995 single work essay
— Appears in: Advancing Australia : The Speeches of Paul Keating, Prime Minister 1995; (p. 75-78) Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature 2009; (p. 1098-1101)
Speech delivered in Winton, Queensland on 6 April 1995 on the occasion of the centenary celebrations for Waltzing Matilda.
It's High Time Matilda Was Swung Low and Waltzed Out of the Stadium Dennis Shanahan , 2003 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 25 November 2003; (p. 11)
Truthful Jones at Barcaldine Frank Hardy , 1991 single work short story
— Appears in: Australian Short Stories , no. 34 1991; (p. 30-35)
Last amended 3 Sep 2015 14:39:04