From the recording Frontier

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This a song about a song, and to my knowledge it hasn't been done before. It is the story behind the writing of Waltzing Matilda, and was truly a wonderful opportunity to get inside the head of one of Australia's great poets.

Banjo Paterson had been engaged for seven years, and his fiancee convinced him to visit a childhood friend of hers in Winton, QLD. Now back in 1895 the trip from Sydney to Winton was one heck of a journey, and that is why it was customary at that time to remain as a guest for some weeks whenever such a visit occurred.

Unfortunately for Banjo's fiancee, he was known as a bit of a ladies man. And he took an immediate shine to her friend Christina Macpherson.

Part of Australian identity revolves around knowledge of our two great poets - Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. While Lawson was a realist, and often wrote about the harshness of the Australian bush, Banjo was a romantic. Although he was a lawyer in Sydney, he fantasized about the life he had enjoyed as a child growing up on Illalong station in the Yass district.

So it is not difficult to imagine him dreaming of a life on the land, and perhaps realising that Christina could be his chance to achieve that.

He had heard various stories from the Macpherson family about troubles in the district with shearers strikes, the burning of haysheds, the death of a shearer near a waterhole.

Christina then said to him one afternoon words to the effect of "Mr Paterson, I've learnt a new tune that I heard at the races. Do you think you could try and put some words to it?" Despite the fact Banjo had never before written a song, Waltzing Matilda - what was essentially a flirty little ditty between the two - would become our unofficial national anthem.
"You'll come a waltzing Matilda my darling,
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me."

By the end of the holiday, the engagement was off and Banjo was sent packing, with Christina's brothers declaring him 'a cad'.

Banjo wrote in a very specific, flowing style which I have tried to emulate - given that it is supposed to be him telling the story. It is also worth noting that Waltzing Matilda is not actually a waltz! Christina's Waltz has rectified that. :)


Christina's Waltz
Copyright 2016 Craig Stewart

From the middle of Sydney,
Midst the noise of the city,
My mind starts to wander,
To the land Clancy roams.

For the air's so much sweeter,
On the Diamantina,
A simple life pleasure,
Town folk never know.

And if I had my time over,
I'd be out with the drovers,
With the bush and her music,
Leading me home.

I'd rise in my saddle,
Look out to the cattle,
And settle back down,
To the rhythm of the road.

But the tramways rattle,
In place of the cattle,
As the children fight in the street.
And I count my losses,
From here in my office,
To the ceaseless trampling of feet.

Then from out of the rabble,
A chance came to travel,
To the sheds of west Queensland,
Where the Mitchell grows tall.

So without hesitation,
I set for the stations,
And the heart of the nation,
To answer the call.

And as I sat in my carriage,
With the girl I'm to marry,
I thought of old Harry,
With his team on the trail.

Blazing 'cross mountains,
Cursin' and shoutin',
Left no bullock doubtin',
His whip on their tail.

And my memories fly,
To a time gone by,
And a young bush child on the run.
Just a farm boy's dreams,
Of swags and teams,
'Round the streams of old Illalong.

So I found myself searchin',
With a man named Macpherson,
For the stories and legends
Of the land that I love.

And for a moment I fancied,
Myself as old Clancy,
With my sheep and cattle,
Out there on the run.

Then from the Diamantina,
Out stepped Christina,
There was something between us,
We knew.
She asked me inside,
Took me aside,
Said I'd like to play you a tune.

She had skin so fair,
Fine dark hair,
Felt somewhere, somehow,
I belonged.

Watched entranced,
Her fingers danced,
As she played,
I wrote her a song.

Come waltzing,
Matilda with me.