Listen to Waltzing Matilda on a Zither The First Tune for Waltzing Matilda

The tune for Waltzing Matilda was first played on zither (autoharp) by Christina Macpherson in 1895. The lyrics to the song were written by Banjo Paterson while holidaying in the Australian Outback near Christina's brothers sheep station.

Banjo Paterson said in a radio interview in 1936, "Miss Macpherson used to play a little Scottish tune on a zither, and I put words to it and called it 'Waltzing Matilda'."

Photo of Christina Macpherson

Portrait of Christina Macpherson

Christina Macpherson wrote in a letter written in 1934" might interest you to hear how 'Banjo' Paterson came to write it. He was on a visit to Winton, North Queensland, and I was staying with my brothers about 80 miles from Winton. We went in to Winton for a week or so & one day I played (from ear) a tune which I had heard played by a band at the Races in Warnambool, a country town in the Western District of Victoria. Mr Patterson asked what it was—I could not tell him, & he then said he thought he could write some lines to it. He then and there wrote the first verse. We tried it and thought it went well, so he then wrote the other verses."

The Story of Waltzing Matilda - Australia's Favourite Song