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Mallee's connection to Waltzing Matilda

Murray's connection to Waltzing Matilda

"A Treasury of Australia Folk Tales" by Bill Beatty

The verses were written by the Australian poet, A.B. ('Banjo') Paterson in 1896, when he was staying at the home of his fiancee, Miss Sarah Riley, at Winton, Queensland. One day they visited Mr Robert McPherson, owner of Dagworth, one of the largest sheep stations in the district. McPherson and his sister, Christina, were driving Paterson and Miss Riley home when, in a paddock, they saw an old swagman trying to catch a sheep for his tuckerbox. McPherson stopped the buggy, exclaiming, 'He's after a jumbuck!' And jumping down he chased the swaggie away. (Jumbuck was the name coined for a sheep by the Aborigines.)

This incident caught Paterson's imagination and he softly spoke the lines of 'Waltzing Matilda'.

Miss McPherson was intrigued with the words and told the poet that some time previously she had heard a brass band playing a tune that she though would suit them. When they reached Miss Riley's home Paterson and Miss McPherson sat down at the harmonium and adapted the tune to the words. The tune is an old Rochester (Kent) marching air of the Marlborough Wars. In 1903 Marie Cowan set the music in its present arrangement.

Incidentally, as a baby, Christina McPherson, who was responsible for the music of 'Waltzing Matilda', figured in the capture of Daniel Morgan.

When that bushranger held up the McPherson homestead, then at Peechelba, Victoria (about 30km south west of Corowa), he ordered food to be brought to him while he kept the family in range of his gun. then he 'requested' Mrs McPherson to play the harmonium to him while he ate. As the baby, Christina, kept crying in the next room, he angrily told a maid to 'go out and keep that brat quiet'...more


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