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History of Australia
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Why is Waltzing Matilda so important?


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January 25, 2014 9:25AM

Waltzing Matilda is important to Australians because it celebrates the triumph of the "underdog", the ultimate victory of the down-trodden against the law (as represented by the troopers).

Banjo Paterson based Waltzing Matilda on a true story. The central character is based on a man named Samuel "Frenchy" Hoffmeister. In September 1894, on the Dagworth sheep station north of Winton, some shearers were in a strike that turned violent. The strikers fired off their rifles and pistols in the air and then set fire to the woolshed at the Dagworth Homestead, killing over a hundred sheep. The owner of Dagworth Homestead and three policemen pursued Hoffmeister who, rather than be captured, shot and killed himself at a billabong.

At the time Paterson wrote the ballad, Australia was in the grip of patriotic "Federation fever", and the feeling that Australia (the underdog) was about to shrug off the influence of "Mother England". Paterson was a patriot who represented the cause for Federation, and his song inspired Australians to fight for independence (no matter that full independence was not achieved until 1986).

More information about the story behind Waltzing Matilda can be found at the related link below.