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Arrente women dancing to the music made by the men. Gillen records the dance was called the Unintha corroboree. Charlotte Waters, April, 1901. Photograph Baldwin Spencer.

Arrente women dancing to the music made by the men. Gillen records the dance was called the Unintha corroboree. Charlotte Waters, April, 1901. Photograph Baldwin Spencer.

I talk a lot about various Indigenous nations, and, along with their glorious art, increasingly their fabulous words and names frequent the blog. As they rightfully should. There’s something lost in writing though. There’s a fabulous musicality to all languages, each their own, and the various tongues of the First Australians are no different.

A little while ago a friend of mine shared this little gem of pure unadulterated Aussie-ness with the added comment that when our beloved and venerated Gough Whitlam put the issue of our national anthem to the vote (we still used God Save the Queen until 1977) my friend voted for Waltzing Matilda. AND WHO WOULDN’T when it’s sung as Ali Mills does in this clip?

Waltzing Matilda was written by A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson at old Dagworth Homestead, Queensland in January 1895. And at one time it was considered for our national anthem. Because stealing sheep, anti-establishment sentiments, and ghost haunted billabongs is what we do. We’re awesome like that.

Oh there once was a swagman camped in the billabong
Under the shade of a Coolabah tree
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda my darling
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
Waltzing Matilda leading a tucker bag
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water hole
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee
And he said as he put him away in the tucker bag
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

You’ll come a waltzing Matilda my darling
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
Waltzing Matilda leading a tucker bag
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Down came the squatter a riding on his thoroughbred
Down came policemen one, two and three
Where is the jumbuck you’ve got in the tucker bag
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

You’ll come a waltzing Matilda my darling
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
Waltzing Matilda leading a tucker bag
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

But the swagman he ups and he jumps in the water hole
Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree
And his ghost can be heard as it sings in the billabong
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me

This little website explains some of the terms to all the non-Aussie readers.

Of course, Waltjim Bat Matilda  is sung in Top End Kreol. Which is off the charts deadly, and I keep trying to sing along with it, much to the dismay of my two dogs.

But for something a little bit more traditional, check out 15 year old Taliah King, a gorgeous D’harawal girl singing Advance Australia Fair in D’harawal.

nyini Australiagal bugjari garibara
nyini budjari buriga
bugjari bamul yararaga mari walaba
balmulga mari walanmirang
bamul merong mari kaban walaba
badjajarang waratah
yanamuru Australiagal yanumauru Australiagal
yana budjari Australiagal
nyini bayala gawuwi bayala gawuwi
yana budjari Australiagal

D’harawal Translations:
We Australian mob are going to have a good dance
We good young fellows
Good earth and speared a lot of wallabies
a lot of water associated with this earth
earth having a lot of animals and waratahs
go along the path Australians
Australian mob go together
we say and sing out
Australian mob go together

Yeah, I could stand to hear that at more events.

And just because listening to these fantastic languages and these wonderful artists in full voice, here are few that should be in your playlist rotation, because they are in mine.

Yothu Yindi ‘Treaty’

‘Gopuru’ from the album ‘Rrakala’ by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. (One of the most beautiful voices in the world.)

And finally, recorded in Yuendumu, Northern Territory, February 1967. The language is Walbiri. A Rain Dreaming Ceremony. Which frankly, we need more of. And just haunting.
Record: Unesco: Australia – Aboriginal music (France, 1992)

And now I feel like BBQ wallaby.

P.S. ‘W’ is for ‘Waltjim Bat Matilda’. This post participates with The Pagan Blog Project 2014. And is totally deadly, even if not of my doing.

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