The Australian National Anthem - Where did it come from?

@winterose (39896)
Canada
September 8, 2008 4:37pm CST
I know that Waltzing Mathilda is the national anthem of Australia, but is that song about? I just found out a bilabong is a lake, a swagman is a transient worker, but is waltzing mathilda something too? and how did that song become the national anthem?
2 people like this
5 responses
@DonnaLawson (4032)
• United States
9 Sep 08
Winterose, the following is copied from Wikipedia and according to Wikipedia the song has never been the officially recognised national anthem in Australia. The song was one of four included in a national plebiscite to choose Australia's national song held on 21 May 1977 by the Fraser Government to determine which song was preferred as Australia's national anthem. "Waltzing Matilda" received 28% of the vote compared with 43% for "Advance Australia Fair", 19% for "God Save the Queen" and 10% for "Song of Australia".[2] The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker making a crude cup of tea at a bush camp and stealing a sheep to eat. When the sheep's ostensible owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker, he drowns himself in a small lake and goes on to haunt the site. The lyrics contain many distinctively Australian words, some now rarely used in Australian English outside this song. Waltzing Matilda from the above terms, "to waltz Matilda" is to travel with a swag, that is, with all one's belongings on one's back wrapped in a blanket or cloth. The exact origins of the term "Matilda" are disputed; one fanciful derivation states that when swagmen met each other at their gatherings, there were rarely women to dance with. Nonetheless, they enjoyed a dance, and so they danced with their swags, which was given a woman's name. However, this appears to be influenced by the word "waltz", hence the introduction of dancing. It seems more likely that, as a swagman's only companion, the swag came to be personified as a woman. Another explanation is that the term also derives from German immigrants. German soldiers commonly referred to their greatcoats as "Matilda", supposedly because the coat kept them as warm as a woman would. Early German immigrants who "went on the waltz" would wrap their belongings in their coat, and took to calling it by the same name their soldiers had used. I had never thought one way or the other about this song nor the meaning of the words until you posted this discussion, but is is interesting and now I do know a bit more than I did before.. It pays to try and keep up with all of the intelligent members on Mylot.. Good going, have a great evening, Donna
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 08
I also remember singing this as a child but wasn't sure about any of its history..
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@winterose (39896)
• Canada
9 Sep 08
wow Donna thank you for answering my question, now I know what waltzing mathilda means, that is great. Thank you for looking it up.
• United States
9 Sep 08
It was really interesting and fun to learn about something that you had never really thought of in all of these years.. I feel a teensy bit more intelligent after reading all of this, don't you?? Proves you can teach an old dog new tricks!!
@mtdewgurl74 (18118)
• United States
9 Sep 08
I have never heard the Australia National Anthem before. I haven't really heard any besides the United States Anthem that is used. It would be nice to find out about how some of them were chosen or what they mean or how they came about. Sorry couldn't be of any help.
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@winterose (39896)
• Canada
9 Sep 08
yes I learned a lot by making this discussion actually,
@mtdewgurl74 (18118)
• United States
9 Sep 08
I read the responses and I would have never guessed in a million years the reasoning behind the song and that men carried swags that they named after woman and danced with them.lol It is always good to learn something new everyday keeps our minds going..
@rckayla09 (113)
• United States
9 Sep 08
Very interesting...hate to say this, but I have no idea how Australia's national anthem song came about. But that would be a great research project for us to find out where Waltzing Mathilda came from and why Australia uses it as their anthem song!
@winterose (39896)
• Canada
9 Sep 08
scroll up, they responders have answered most of the questions.
• United States
9 Sep 08
Oops, yeah I saw that others answered your questions already... it was too late though to take back my comment. Sorry about that!
@ellie333 (21018)
8 Sep 08
Hi Winterose, I cheated and done a search and all I can come up with is that is origineated in Queensland and was compose by a guy called Banjo Paterson and is something to do with bush tea and an immigrant worker being arrested. Ellie :D
1 person likes this
@winterose (39896)
• Canada
8 Sep 08
yes I read that too, and oreo cookie explained the song, but I wish I knew from australians exactly why this particular song became so popular that it became the national anthem and what is waltzing mathilda
@newtondak (3949)
• United States
8 Sep 08
I remember singing it when we were in grammar school, and occasionally it will come to mind again and I'll be running around humming or signing it, but I have no idea what it means. Perhaps there will be some Australians here that can shed some light on it for us.
@winterose (39896)
• Canada
8 Sep 08
that is what I am hoping that australians will know why they choose that song over any other. I looked on the net at it said because it was popular but goodness I am sure all kinds of songs are popular but why this one?