We’ve all grown up with her, every man, woman and child knows her and this month she turns 120!

That’s right – April 2015 marks 120 years since Banjo Patterson first publicly performed Waltzing Matilda in a small pub in Outback Queensland. Known as the country’s unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda holds a special place in every Australian’s heart and draws out feelings of pride, honour, reflection and the true Aussie spirit every time it is heard.

What many of us do not know, however, is the story behind the song, the differing theories and that all of it can still be discovered today in Winton, Outback Queensland!

Getting there:

Winton is approximately two hours drive from Longreach. Qantas and Rex fly to Longreach, with rail and coach also servicing the town. You can also drive to Winton using Outback Queensland’s network of sealed highways and roads.

What to do:

Waltzing Matilda Centre
Your first stop on you Waltzing Matilda journey should be the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Here you can learn the truth and the myths behind Banjo Patterson’s writing of the song and why it is still as relevant to Australians today as it was 120 years ago. Take a tour and experience the Centre at your own pace, hear the ‘ghost’ tell his side of the story in the Billabong Theatrette, and learn the truth, myth and romance behind the song in the Home of the Legends room.

Combo Waterhole
The Combo waterhole is believed to be the ‘billabong’ made famous in the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda. Take a drive to the Combo Waterhole Regional Park, located 132km north-west of Winton. Follow the self-guided walking track to the Combo Waterhole on foot, discovering the story of the song along the way. Sit under one of the Coolibah trees and take in the spot that may just be where the Waltzing Matilda story began!

North Gregory Hotel
After a long day discovering the Waltzing Matilda story, stop off at the North Gregory Hotel for a cold drink and hearty meal! Choose from the Daphne Mayo Dining Room or grab a bar meal at the Horseshoe Bar and Banjo’s Beer Garden. The Hotel also has Keno, a pokies room and TAB facilities.

While in the region, it is highly recommended that you visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and learn why Winton is also the Dinosaur Capital of Australia! Take a tour to witness dinosaur bone preparation and see some of the collection of bones and skeletons that have been retrieved from the area. Further your dino experience by visiting Lark Quarry, a preserved dinosaur stampede site where over 3,300 dinosaur tracks can be seen. Lark Quarry is the only known dinosaur stampede site on the planet so is well worth a look!

Where to stay:
The North Gregory Hotel offers both standard and deluxe rooms that sleep up to four people. The Hotel also offers 15 unpowered van sites at the back of the hotel, with all Hotel facilities and amenities available to van guests. Stay in the Hotel where the Waltzing Matilda magic first happened!

On 6 April 1895, Banjo Patterson changed Australian history forever when he first publicly performed Waltzing Matilda at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton, Queensland. It is said that he wrote the lyrics while staying at Dagworth Station near Winton, based on stories that were divulged to him while picnicking at Combo Waterhole, said to be the famous ‘billabong’ in the song lyrics.

The swagman is believed to be German migrant unionist and shearing strike activist, Samuel Hoffmeister, and Filmmaker, Bill Leimbach, is currently producing a film named Waltzing Matilda which explores the mysteries of the song and its characters.

The word ‘waltzing’ in the song title is said to be derived from the German term ‘auf der Walz’, which means to travel while working and training as a craftsman. ‘Matilda’ was a romantic term for a swagman’s bedroll and bundle of belongings. So ‘to waltz with Matilda’ was to travel with your swag.

Click here to read the song words