Waltzing Matilda –

the (unofficial) National Anthem of Australia


I grew up in a family of music lovers. My parents were specifically interested in folk music and next to playing all kinds of folk songs they created their own three-tome collection of folk songs from all over the English-speaking world. They wrote down the music with notes and underneath it all the verses of the lyrics of the songs.

            Now, you can imagine that that hasn’t left me untouched. While my dad limited his love for music mainly to folk music (don’t kill me, dad, if I’m talking rubbish here), my mum’s taste was much more varied and eclectic. We still have those old big tape spools (or whatever they are called) at home. I mean the big round ones that could store three to four hours of music and more if you recorded them on one track only. My mum taped all kinds of shows and mostly the British radio shows from the BBC or BFBS, the British Forces radio stations here in Germany. She made lists of all the songs and artists she recorded and filed them. I remember once reading through some of the pages when I was a teenager. It was funny to see that sometimes she didn’t get the names right e.g. Freddy Stair singing ‘Puttin on the Ritz'.

I also remember the probably most famous Australian folk song: Waltzing Matilda.

Of course for the longest time I had no clue what the title meant. Only much later when I prepared a teaching section about Australia for school, I learned about the song’s meaning and background.

I did some research again today and found a great website about this song and instead of rewriting everything myself, I encourage you to click on the link below and read the whole entry the author has given. There is also a nice video performance of the song. I will put a link to that here, too, in case you don’t feel like reading about the song, but listening to it. My tip, however, is to go to the website because it helps to understand the lyrics themselves since the composer, Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, whom you might remember as being the guy on the ten dollar note (see my post on Australian notes) included some typical Australian lingo.

The History of Waltzing Matilda

Video Waltzing Matilda

Because of all of that, I decided to call my car I just bought my car for my trip across Australia ‘Matilda’. I though it would be the perfect name for my ride because ‘waltzing Matilda’ means ‘to go walkabout carrying your bag’. And that is exactly what we’re doing now.    



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