The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Now when I was a young man I carried me pack. I lived the free life of the rover.

From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback, I waltzed my Matilda all over.

Then in 1916 my country said, "Son, it's time to stop roving, there's work to be done."

 So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun and they sent me away to the war.

               And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as our ship pulled away from the quay

               Amidst all the cheers, flag waving and tears, we sailed off for Gallipoli


How well I remember that terrible day, how our blood stained the sand and the water

And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.

Johnny Turk, he was waiting, he'd primed himself well. He shot us with bullets, and he rained us with shells,

And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell. Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

          And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as we stopped to bury our slain,

          We buried ours, the Turks buried theirs, then we started all over again.


Well those that were left, tried hard to survive in a mad world of blood, death and fire.

And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive while around me the corpses piled higher.

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me ass over head and when I awoke in me hospital bed

I saw what it had done, and I wished I was dead. Never knew there were worse things than dying.

          For I'll go no more Waltzing Matilda, among the green bush far and free

          To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs. No more waltzing Matilda for me.


They collected the crippled, the wounded, and maimed, and they shipped us back home to Australia.

The legless, the armless, the blind and insane, all the brave wounded heroes of Suvla.

And when our ship pulled into Circular Quay I looked at the place where me legs used to be

And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me to mourn and to grieve, and to pity.

          But the Band played Waltzing Matilda as they carried us down the gangway,

          But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared, then they turned all their faces away.


So now every April I sit on me porch and I watch the parade pass before me.

And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march reliving old dreams and past glory,

The old men march slowly, old limbs stiff and sore - the tired old heroes from a forgotten war

And when the young people ask "What are they marching for?" I ask myself the same question.

          But the band plays Waltzing Matilda, and the old men still answer the call,

          But as year follows year, more old men disappear.  Someday, no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda.

Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billibong

Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

 Eric Bogle Copyright Larrikin Music, Ltd.