When I was a young man, I carried my pack and I lived the life of the rover
From the Murrys green basin to the dusty outback, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915 my country said son, its time to stop rambling there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat, they gave me a gun and they sent me away to the war.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda, when the ship pulled away from the key
And amid all the tears, flag waving and cheers, oh we sailed off for Gallipoli.
Oh, it’s well I remember that terrible day when our blood stained the sand and the Water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs to the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He rained us with bullets and he showered us with shell
And in five minutes flat, we were all blown to hell
He nearly blew us back home to Australia.
And the band played waltzing Matilda when we stopped to bury our slain
Well we buried ours and the Turk’s buried theirs then it started all over again.
Oh, those that were living just tried to survive, in that 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 arse over head
And when I awoke in me hospital bed and saw what it had done, I wished I were dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying.
For no more I’ll go Waltzing Matilda all around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs a man needs both legs
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.
They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind and the insane those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And when the ship pulled into Circular Key,
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda when they carried us down the gangway
Though nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared
Then they turned all their faces away.
Now every April I sit on me porch and I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades how proudly they march
Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see those old men all tired stiff and worn those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask, what are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda, and the old men still answer the call
But year after year, their numbers get fewer
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 Billabong
Oh, who’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me?