Saturday, November 11, 2017

Waltzing Matilda photograph

If you are familiar with what is called Australia's unofficial national anthem, you will recognize these lyrics from the third verse:
Down came the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three! 
The squatter and troopers find the swagman (vagrant worker) who stole a jumbuck (a sheep), but fail to detain him because he drowns himself in a billabong (pond) rather than be captured.

Little did I know until today that a picture exists showing the troopers and the squatter:

The troopers (one, two, three!) are in the dark shirts. The fourth man from the right is the squatter (which means wealthy landowner; his jumbuck is the one that was purloined).

The words to Waltzing Matilda were written in 1895 by A. J. "Banjo" Paterson and set to music by Christina Macpherson.  Paterson was staying at the Macpherson family's sheep and cattle ranch in Queensland, where he learned of an incident four years earlier.  This inspired the song, and the photo above from the State Library of Queensland captures the men involved.

I'll leave you with this 1938 recording, which was the first hit version of "Waltzing Matilda."

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