The Alphabet Club_Saturday Detention for W

is for

Waltzing Matilda is one of Australia's unofficial anthems (much preferred by many to our official one - Advance Australia Fair) and is a most beloved bush ballad.  

The story of the song is as follows:

"The title is Australian slang for travelling on foot (waltzing, derived from the German auf der Walz) with one's belongings in a "matilda" (swag) slung over one's back. The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker, or "swagman", making a drink of billy tea at a bush camp and capturing a stray jumbuck (sheep) to eat. When the jumbuck's owner, a squatter (wealthy landowner), and three mounted policemen pursue the swagman for theft, he declares "You'll never take me alive!" and commits suicide by drowning himself in a nearby billabong (watering hole), after which his ghost haunts the site."

It was written in January, 1895 by one of Australia's greatest poets, Banjo Paterson, while  he was staying at Dagworth Station, a sheep and cattle station near Winton in Central West Queensland owned by the Macpherson family. The words were written to a tune played on a zither or autoharp by 31‑year‑old Christina Macpherson, one of the family members at the station.

It has now been widely accepted that "Waltzing Matilda" is probably based on the following story:
In Queensland in 1891 the Great Shearers' Strike brought the colony close to civil war and was broken only after the Premier of QueenslandSamuel Griffith, called in the military. In September 1894, some shearers at Dagworth Station were again on strike. The situation turned violent with the striking shearers firing their rifles and pistols in the air and setting fire to the woolshed at Dagworth, killing dozens of sheep. The owner of Dagworth Station and three policemen gave chase to a man named Samuel Hoffmeister – also known as "French(y)". Rather than be captured, Hoffmeister shot and killed himself at the Combo Waterhole.
Bob Macpherson (the brother of Christina) and Paterson are said to have taken rides together at Dagworth. Here they would probably have passed the Combo Waterhole, where Macpherson is purported to have told this story to Paterson. Although not remaining in close contact, Paterson and Christina Macpherson both maintained this version of events until their deaths. Amongst Macpherson's belongings, found after her death in 1936, was an unopened letter to a music researcher that read "... one day I played (from ear) a tune, which I had heard played by a band at the Races in Warrnambool ... he [Paterson] then said he thought he could write some words to it. He then and there wrote the first verse. We tried it and thought it went well, so he then wrote the other verses." Similarly, in the early 1930s on ABC radio Paterson said "The shearers staged a strike and Macpherson's woolshed at Dagworth was burnt down and a man was picked up dead ... Miss Macpherson used to play a little Scottish tune on a zither and I put words to it and called it Waltzing Matilda."
The song itself was first performed on 6 April 1895 by Sir Herbert Ramsay at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton, Queensland. The occasion was a banquet for the Premier of Queensland.

Another famous "Waltzing Matilda" song is "And the band played Walzting Matilda" written by Eric Bogle in 1971 to protest about the futility of war.

Anyway, that is all from me for the Letter W but let me explain what The Alphabet Club is all about ....

  It is the brainchild of Chiara from The Grey Tail and Jo from Serendipitous Stitching and is loosely based on the premise of the movie "The Breakfast Club" - you can see the button for The Alphabet Club on my right sidebar.

On the first Saturday of each month, members of the club have "detention" and have to post about something that will enlighten others about their culture (as blogland is so diverse).  Of course, there should/could be something stitchy in there, if possible (although I seemed to have moved right away from that premise as the months have gone by, instead focusing on boring you all with quirky facts about Australia - lol!)

Each month will be a different letter of the alphabet - hence the club's name - and, of course, we started with "A" and now we are up to "W", nearly at the end of the alphabet but dear Jo tells me that she has a great idea for Life after Z - can't wait to find out what it is!

The Alphabet Club

Please visit Chiara's blog, The Grey Tail, for the link up post.

Oh, before I go, I have an UPDATE for my last Alphabet Club post, which was V is for Vegemite.  Dear Lesley, was so inspired by my post (at least that is how I am viewing it - lol!) that she bought some Vegemite for herself!

This is what she wrote to me:

"I bought a jar of Vegemite recently, is delicious.I love Marmite,our beef based product and Vegemite is now my joint favourite on toast.Sooooo tasty.

So, give it a try if you haven't already!



RJ said…
Kaye my Dad used to love that song and sang it all the time. But, now I know way more about its beginnings. I loved the time I spent in Australia and the song brings back fond memories. I'm anxious to hear what is ahead after Z!?! RJ
Barb said…
I loved learning all those things about Waltzing Matilda. I have always liked that song and now I know a lot more about it. Thanks Kaye!
butterfly said…

Great Song , thanks for the info.
Have a great weekend.
Margaret said…
OK, I had no idea about the history of this song. Very cool! DH tends to burst out in song periodically and this is one he sings. lol! Now I can tell him about what it means. Who knew? Thank you for the history lesson. I have to pin this!
Lesley said…
What an interesting post Kaye.I have known this iconic song since I was a child and to find out its origins is brilliant.
Yes,you did inspire me to try Vegemite :)and I am enjoying it nearly every day!
Mary said…
I want to know what Jo has up her sleeve for after "Z" too! Waltzing Matilda is a great song and I'll appreciate it more after learning of the history of it, Great post! Mary
I should have guessed that you would choose this for W, great choice.
I remember singing it at Primary School and our teacher explaining what all the words meant. He didn't tell the man died though!
I've been really enjoying all your Alphabet posts, I've gone the other way and focusing entirely on stitching.
cucki said…
Thank you for sharing
Big hugs x
Janet said…
The Alphabet Club is a great idea! I'm sorry I missed it - well mostly anyway. I will visit Chiara's blog to see what she is going to get up to next. Thank you for all the information about Waltzing Matilda. I have always loved the song.
Julie said…
Great W post, I too have sung this song in school.
Melinda Forbes said…
Thank you so much for sharing all about waltzing Maltilda. I am not sure why, but I know the chorus to that song, but never knew the words I don't think or even had a clue what it was about. thanks again.
Brigitte said…
When I saw your theme for W it immediately reminded me of my teaching times. When Australia was the topic in my English classes we also talked about "Waltzing Matilda" and we also sang the song. The students loved it.
Great W post, Kaye.
Sheryl S. said…
How interesting Kaye, I loved learning a bit more about this popular song

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