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Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words

DigiTrad:
MARCHING THROUGH ROCHESTER
THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA
THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA (2)
WALKING A BULLDOG
WALTZING MATILDA


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Stiofáin 29 Jun 01 - 07:54 AM
IanC 29 Jun 01 - 08:08 AM
kendall 29 Jun 01 - 08:15 AM
Stiofáin 29 Jun 01 - 08:17 AM
catspaw49 29 Jun 01 - 08:45 AM
IanC 29 Jun 01 - 08:55 AM
Les from Hull 29 Jun 01 - 09:16 AM
Stiofáin 29 Jun 01 - 09:16 AM
catspaw49 29 Jun 01 - 09:19 AM
catspaw49 29 Jun 01 - 09:30 AM
IanC 29 Jun 01 - 09:34 AM
Stiofáin 29 Jun 01 - 09:39 AM
IanC 29 Jun 01 - 09:43 AM
Gary T 29 Jun 01 - 09:59 AM
Charley Noble 29 Jun 01 - 06:26 PM
Amos 29 Jun 01 - 06:37 PM
Chicken Charlie 29 Jun 01 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,John Gray/Australia 29 Jun 01 - 07:45 PM
Gary T 29 Jun 01 - 07:49 PM
JennieG 29 Jun 01 - 10:15 PM
Bill D 29 Jun 01 - 10:26 PM
Bill D 29 Jun 01 - 10:41 PM
GUEST,chrisj 30 Jun 01 - 08:30 AM
Bob Bolton 30 Jun 01 - 09:23 AM
Bob Bolton 30 Jun 01 - 09:33 AM
Geoff the Duck 30 Jun 01 - 10:23 AM
Charley Noble 30 Jun 01 - 11:35 AM
Stiofáin 30 Jun 01 - 01:01 PM
Bob Bolton 01 Jul 01 - 01:50 AM
kendall 01 Jul 01 - 09:15 AM
Rollo 01 Jul 01 - 09:27 AM
Geoff the Duck 01 Jul 01 - 01:49 PM
Bob Bolton 02 Jul 01 - 12:13 AM
Terry K 02 Jul 01 - 01:24 AM
GUEST,Finny 02 Jul 01 - 02:09 AM
Garry Gillard 02 Jul 01 - 11:14 AM
Garry Gillard 02 Jul 01 - 11:17 AM
Garry Gillard 02 Jul 01 - 11:21 AM
IanC 02 Jul 01 - 11:40 AM
Sourdough 03 Jul 01 - 09:58 AM
Stiofáin 03 Jul 01 - 11:59 AM
Bill D 03 Jul 01 - 12:28 PM
RangerSteve 03 Jul 01 - 06:46 PM
Bob Bolton 04 Jul 01 - 12:07 AM
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Subject: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 07:54 AM

Hi,

I'm sure this has been discussed about 714 times in here, but the search option gave a mountain of threads about 10 times this number, so I'll ask again:

Can someone explain to me some of the words used in "Waltzing Mathilda" --

- "Waltzing Mathilda": AFAIK slang expression for "rambling across the outback", right? - "Swagman": A Robber / A Highwayman? - "Billabong": A dry river or something? - "Coulibah Tree": What kind of tree is that? - "Jumbuck": What the hell? - "Tuckerbag": A rucksack? - "Stockman": Some kind of sheriff / policeman?

Thanks in advance, Stiofáin


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: IanC
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 08:08 AM

Waltzing Matilda - walking with your rucksack Swagman - tramp (carries his swag in his bag) Jumbuck - sheep Tuckerbag - where you keep your tucker (food) Stockman - chap in charge of stock (this is just an English word) ... he's annoyed about his sheep

Cheers!
Ian

PS I think a billabong's a pond ... like an oasis.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: kendall
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 08:15 AM

I was told that a "waltzing Matilda" is the backpack itself


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 08:17 AM

Thanks,

I admit I'm a bit embarrassed about the "stockman" :) I think all these swagmans and jumbucks made me stagger...

Cheers, Stiofáin

P.S. Feel free to add further comments!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 08:45 AM

Hey Stio.......CLICK HERE FOR THE THREAD with all your info already there....

AND......Click Here for a great site all about the song too.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: IanC
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 08:55 AM

'Spaw

Think you missed the point. The thread doesn't have the information that S. was asking for.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Les from Hull
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:16 AM

So what's a coulibah tree then. Google just gives 35 places you can get the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:16 AM

Yeah, but the link contains some good information.

Almsot everything is perfectly clear now, what I still would need is an exact explanation for "billabong" and a short description of a feckin' "coulibah tree"!

Thank yez, Stiofáin


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:19 AM

I thought most of it was there Ian.....sorry. But if you look for Bill D.s post on the thread, there is some interesting info as I recall regarding the tree and it actual lack of shade.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:30 AM

and, uh.....Sometimes in searching, it's all in the spelling.....try "coolibah" instead!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: IanC
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:34 AM

Billabong - from here.

Billabong

Billabong, term used to describe several kinds of bodies of water, all of which are standing, often stagnant, and related to river channels. There are three main types of billabongs: two are caused by the distinctive climate of the Australian interior, which features hot, dry weather interrupted by occasional flooding; a third type is found in rivers in all parts of the world. The word billabong is derived from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning dead river.

In one of the two Australian billabongs, flooding of a river or stream may cause a temporary channel to branch off from, but not lead back to, the main stream. If the temporary channel is deep enough, water will remain there after the flood. The other Australian billabong involves an intermittent river that flows only after heavy rains. When the channel dries, it may leave standing pools, or billabongs, in its deeper parts.

The third type of billabong is found in numerous rivers with a regular flow. A sharp bend in the river's course, called a meander, is eventually cut off by a new channel that forms across the neck of land created by the meander. When this process is complete, the original meander is separated from the river, and its water stops flowing. This feature is also known as an oxbow lake.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:39 AM

"Coolibah" did the trick. It's an eucalyptus tree.

Also thanks to Ian for the billabong explanation.

Mudcat is a great place to be.

Thanks,

Stiofáin


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: IanC
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:43 AM

Whoops! the link was supposed to be to Encarta!!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Gary T
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:59 AM

My understanding is that "Matilda" is the hiking staff. "Waltzing Matilda" is the act of hiking along, where one is figuratively waltzing with Matilda.

Perhaps Matilda is a pack or a bag rather than a staff, but unless it's something you've got your hand around the idea of waltzing with it gets a little more remote. The syntax of the lyric "Who'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me" pretty much precludes the phrase "waltzing Matilda" from being an object--Matilda itself would be the object, waltzing would be what you do with it.

I seem to remember "jumbuck" being a lamb rather than just any age sheep.

In American English, I believe "stockman" would be "rancher."


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 06:26 PM

Of course there are hundreds of "eucalyptus tree" types of radically different appearance. Wait til the folks in Australia wake up and tell you all about them. Then you can start a debate on which one is the most likely specie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Amos
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 06:37 PM

I believe in older versions he's called "the squatter" -- the man who first set up operations for sheep ranching on a a large chunk of land and thus, if successful, became a landowner and prosperous rancher.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 06:44 PM

All right; here's one not mentioned so far.

"He waited while his billy boiled." Billy is an anglicization of boille (sp?), French for "boiled." In WW I the Frogs issued cans of boiled meet to the men in the trenches, a kind of new twist on military logistics. The custom spread to other Allied armies along with the corrupted name--"billy beef" or "billy pork," or whatever. Don't hold me to the spelling of boille; the French dictionary is upstairs. :)

le CC


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: GUEST,John Gray/Australia
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 07:45 PM

Gary T.

Matilda is not a hiking staff. It is the blanket roll that includes all the possessions of the swagman ( hobo / tramp ), pot, pan, cup, spare clothes etc and is well explained in Catspaw's link above - click here for a great site. And others have correctly identified waltzing as hiking or roaming about. Kind of like hiking around with a surrogate wife.

When I joined the Royal Aust. Navy in '63 part of our kit was a little cloth roll-up, a bit smaller than a corn-cob, in wich were cottons, needles, buttons etc and it's official name was your - housewife. With women on board ships now this quaint term has probably fallen overboard.

JG / F.M.E.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Gary T
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 07:49 PM

Thanks for the clarification, John. I went to the link but didn't see that part of it. I'll have to give it a closer look.

I like the bit about the housewife.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: JennieG
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 10:15 PM

A billy is the tin pot that you boil water in when you are camping, you can make tea or coffee in it too if you wish. In Oz we use the term "to boil the billy" when we really mean "to heat water in the electric jug"! Especially if you grew up in a country town like I did, and not in Sydney where I now live (and I want to leave too and go back to the country.....)
Cheers
JennieG - off to boil the billy - it's coffee time!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 10:26 PM

Coolibah


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 10:41 PM

and if anyone should REALLY want to know about varities of Eucalypts start here

(Australia has, in general, done a better job of studying, listing and being aware of it's amazing bio-diversity than about any country I know)


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: GUEST,chrisj
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 08:30 AM

The term 'stockman' equates to 'cowboy' whereas 'squatter' and 'grazier' equates to 'rancher'. The coolibah tree is sometimes spelled 'coolabah'. Swagmen were common in the bush in times of economic depression and 'going bush' meant tramping like 'hoboes' in America. They also referred to it as 'on the wallaby'.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 09:23 AM

G'day Chicken Charlie,

You're right about the French introducing boiled beef as a new ration ... but a century too late in your dates. The development of canning, as a preserving method, was the main outcome of initiatives by Napoleon (Remember - "An army marches on its stomach"?).

Without tracking down the references, I remember it as being introduced in 1813 (actually, I just determined the French patent for the tin can was issued in 1810)... and the British Admiralty got into the act by the 1820s ... and only invented the can-opener in the 1830s - until then you opened the can with a hammer and chisel!

The French canned product was (~) boeuf bouilli (give or take a dipthong that's not in the ASCII set) and that was quickly rendered, by the Anglophones, as "bully beef".

John iB and Gary T: I remember my grandfather handing on his WW II Australian Army "housewife" to me in 1958 (~) for running repairs to uniform.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 09:33 AM

Errrr... G'day again,

OK: bœuf bouilli ... they put that diphthong in an odd place.

BTW: Coolibah covers a few different eucalypts, but the typical one eucalyptus microtheca, is "occurs in seasonally flooded areas" ... just the country where you find billabongs of the first type described by IanC.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 10:23 AM

Wonderful place the Mudcat!
When studying for a teaching qualification the other year, I spent countless hours trying to search out scientific websites on subjects related to natural history and ecology.
All I really needed to do was sit and read Mudcat threads all day and you would have thrown them at me!!!
Quack!
Geoff the Duck!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 11:35 AM

What a team!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 01:01 PM

Geoff,

I can't but agree with you wholeheartedly :)))))

It's simply amazing. All I wanted to know was what a feckin' coulibah tree is.

Good work, lads!

Stiofáin


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:50 AM

G'day again Stiofáin,

For some even more obscure reason, we also call coolibah (at least, the eucalyptus microtheca variety) Flooded Box. I had to go looking for the references, since coolibah is not a tree that turns up as commercial timber. The main reason is that it is notoriously crooked - one authority claims it hasn't got an inch of straight timber in the whole tree!

This, presumably, reflects the harsh and changeable conditions of growth - long years of drought interspersed with total inundation in flood years.

I spent a little while, late last year, on the legendary "Big Willandra", once the largest sheep station (ranch, farm) in the world and now a National Park. The homestead stands by the Willandra Billabong (also called Willandra Creek) - a stretch of waterway some hundreds of miles long that only receives overflow water when the Lachlan River is in flood - and then runs that water into marshlands in the interior where the desert blooms for a while, then dries up for a few years until the next flood.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: kendall
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 09:15 AM

Why would anyone need google, when we have mudcat?


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Rollo
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 09:27 AM

In Germany, we have the term "auf der Waltz" ("being on the waltz") for roving. Typically it is used in connection with tramps or with roving carpenters, who also carry a bedroll and a staff with them.

I am fascinated how the same pictures come up in different languages...


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:49 PM

Rollo - perhaps not that surprising. I can imagine that German roving carpenters might decide to seek employment on board ships. The term might have been transferred from ship to ship and been intruduced by roving carpenters, or possibly picked up by them before they returned to dry land. Who knows!
Geoff the Duck!!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 12:13 AM

G'day Rollo,

There is a strong "German" presence in the area in which Paterson composed the words to Waltzing Matilda ... partly in response to hearing Christina McPherson play a partly remebered version of the Scottish song melody Thou Bonny Wood of CraigieleaWaltzing Matilda The so-called Germans" of the area were mostly political / religious / economic refugees from Bismarck's conquests of their formerly independent nations, principalities and duchies. Many of them would have brought that phrase "auf der waltz" from their journeyman days in their trades - when, as journeymen, they went "auf der waltz" carrying their tool-roll, often called by the name "Mathilda". A lot of young German tradesmen were forced to migrate by German restrictions on new tradesmen.

A lot more would have been aware of the soldiers' name "Mathilda" for the their blanket rolls - or an overcoat used as a bedding roll. They would also have been aware of the (pseudo-erotic) jokes made about sleeping with their Mathilda - since "Mechilde" or "Mathilda" was a generic name for a female camp-follower ... often a prostitute.

All of this may explain the undercurrent of belief in an earlier song that Paterson learned (or "collected") in the area and reworked to come up with a pretty song for Christina's tune (and impress this nice young lady, who was getting more of his attention than his fiancé of 7 years ... and not much longer!). It may be that there is a (now lost) soldiers' song behind Waltzing Matilda ... not the naff "Marlborough" confection of the 1950s ... but a really bawdy epic in German.

A pity we are 100 years too late to find out!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Terry K
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 01:24 AM

......the German national anthem, "Waltzing mit Hilda"

(groan)


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: GUEST,Finny
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 02:09 AM

"Billabong" is an aboriginal word for a wwatering hole (Sorry, I don't know which tribe calls it this, there are several tribes each with their own languages). A Coolabah tree is a species of tree. It's very shady.

For other Australiana type stuff, you can check out my website. It's at http://expage.com/kettrickensjamdrop

I don't have an explanation of Waltzing Matilda actually means, but there's all sorts of stuff there. Also, if you ever want to talk about Banjo Patterson and his works, I'd be happy to help you (me being an Aussie and all..and darn proud of it!). You can email me at ladykettricken#hotmail.com anytime.

Finnabhair


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:14 AM

I'm grateful to Rollo for the German cultural information. I've assumed for a long time that "Matilda" was a random common name (of the time) for anyone one was one imagining one was dancing (waltzing) with - as in Paterson's original idea of dancing with an imaginary woman while holding one's waterbag - or whatever.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:17 AM

Stiofáin

What does AFAIK mean, pls?

Garry


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:21 AM

Oh, AFAIK: as far as you know, I see. But 'know' here means something more like 'guess', yes?

And see above (for "waltzing Matilda"). G


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: IanC
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:40 AM

Thanks for the German reference, Rollo, I missed it first time round. Locally (Cambridgeshire, England) Waltzing Around or Waltzing About is a colloquial term meaning walking aimlessly. If it hadn't been for your reference, I'd have forgotten about it altogether.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Sourdough
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 09:58 AM

Garry Gillard:

THanks for that link in your post. It contains some very specific historical information, a lot of which I was totally unaware of - like the swagman is identified, there are pictures of the "troopers", the song involved a labor strike, a romance and heartbreak, all good stuff.

There is also the hand written manuscript at the website of the composer's original lyric as well as a transcription of the original melody.

Does anyone know whether or not there is a recording of that original lyric and melody available on the Net?

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Stiofáin
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 11:59 AM

It's incredibly fascinating to see how history comes alive within the words of a little song. All you have to know is their meaning

I will listen to "Waltzing Mathilda" in a totally different way now.

Thanks you, Stiofáin


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 12:28 PM

" A Coolabah tree is a species of tree. It's very shady."

...from "Forest Trees of Australia" by 8 renowned botanists..."Eucalyptus microtheca has a wide geographical range and an associated variation in size from a tree 15-20 m in height, with a moderately well-formed bole one-quarter to one-third of the height and up to 1 m dbh, to a poorly formed, small tree with an open, straggly crown and a very short trunk."

the photographs they show with it sure don't look to ME like a tree renowned for it's shade!~

I suspect EITHER that using a Coolibah in the song (rather that a Kurrajong, which IS shady) is part of an in-joke, or simply that is was a well-known tree whose name fit the rhythm scheme. (and I suppose that if a Coolibah is all that was around near that billibong, that's what he'd use....still...*grin*)


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: RangerSteve
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 06:46 PM

Maybe the mystery words don't mean anything. Maybe the Australians are sitting around laughing at us right now because we're trying to figure out the meaning of a bunch of nonsense words. Either way, I think we should export some of our cowboy songs to Australia and let them figure out our cowboy slang. It's only fair.


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Subject: RE: Help: Waltzing Mathilda Aussie Slang Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 12:07 AM

G'day,

Sourdough: I don't know if Denis O'Keefe, whose site you (presumably) refer has his rendition available.

Actually, I dispute some of his interpretation ... Christina's third line doesn't add up and we spent a while making sure we understood her intentions when the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission ... [then ... Corporation now]) contacted me to have the tue performed for a programme back in 1988 (Australia's Bicentenary year).

I can send a MIDI, to anyone who is interested, of the various stages of deveolpment of this tune from W S Barr's 1805 tune for Craigielea through to Marie Cowan's arrangement of Christina McPherson's tune, which is the well known tune today.

GUEST,Finny (and BillD): The Coolibah is indeed far from shady. Like most hot, dry country eucalypts, eucalyptus microtheca it has more sense than let its leaves boil in the sun. It turns its leaves in response to sun and keeps then edge-on to the direction of the sun and so provides very sparse shade ... but it is the native tree (aka "Flooded Box") of the (occasional) floodplains where you find seasonal billabongs.

Rangersteve: What gives you the silly idea that we are not already flooded with your American Cowboys songs? If you turned up at Tamworth for the big annual Country Music bash (the weeks surrounding Australia Day, 26 January, to add insult to injury), you wouldn't know you had left America. Do you want a shipment of spare C/W singers?

Regard(les)s,

Bob Bolton


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