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ssfsx17
topic
12:27:39 PM May 20th 2011
Quick question from a non-Australian: what do "Matilda" and "Waltzing Matilda" mean? For that matter, what does the whole song mean?
oztrickster
03:35:30 PM May 20th 2011
Thats a good question, most Australian don't have a clue either.
Koda
01:01:45 PM Jun 25th 2011
In Waltzing Matilda, an Australian swagman (homeless drifter who wandered between towns and cattle/sheepstations) stops by a billabong, which is a waterhole cut off from the main river or creek. He waits for water to boil in his billy, presumably to make some tea. While doing so, he notices a jumbuck, or male sheep, come to the water. He springs up, grabs the sheep, and stuffs it into his tucker bag (a bag or box to hold food or other other rations). The troopers (police) come after him, so he jumps into the billabong and drowns, preferring to die than to be carted off to gaol.

The actual words about going "waltzing matilda" mean having the freedom to come and go as one pleases. Swagmen would toss their swag (matilda) onto their back and go wandering, not subject to anyone's authority. This particular swagman was also not going to be subject to anyone's authority. He was free to camp wherever he wanted, free to roam, free to steal a sheep if he wanted, and free to take his own life so the troopers couldn't take away his freedom.
Camacan
moderator
09:37:08 PM Oct 31st 2011
We Australians are a proud people: not everyone's unofficial national anthem is about a suicidal sheep-thief!
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