The Waltzing Matilda Dot Com Project ©

Project Aim: Giving Back To Society - A New Direction ©

WM Project - Document Title

Background - The Meaning of the Ballad of the Fair Go

Waltzing Matilda, although not commonly known (until now) is also known as;

The Ballad of the Fair Go

The name is credited to the late Dr Clement Semmler OBE AM. Biographer of A.B. Banjo Paterson - The Banjo of the Bush.

Clem Semmler was a gifted writer and critic whose literary achievements were recognised with the award of the OBE and AM for services to Australian literature. He graduated MA from the University of Adelaide and gained the degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of New England in 1969, the first time such a degree had been awarded in recognition of published works.

After school teaching in Adelaide for four years the young Clem Semmler joined the ABC in 1942, thus beginning an illustrious career that saw him rise to the position of deputy general manager. On the way he popularised jazz music programs on radio, becoming one of Australia's foremost authorities on the music, and established the ABC television service and such programs as Four Corners, The Critics and Six O'clock Rock. His battles with an entrenched bureaucracy are revealed in his frank and controversial The ABC - Aunt Sally and Sacred Cow (1981).

Dr Semmler has published critical studies on Kenneth Slessor, Douglas Stewart, Brian James, Frank Hardy, James Joyce, and Flann O'Brien, and was a frequent reviewer and contributor to the Bulletin, Quadrant, Meanjin, Overland, Antipodes, Australian, Courier-Mail and Sydney Morning Herald. His biography of A.B. Paterson, The Banjo of the Bush, has appeared in four editions and he has edited a volume on Paterson for the University of Queensland Press Australian Authors series (1992). Critics have acclaimed the scholarship of his editions of The War Diaries of Kenneth Slessor (UQP, 1985) and The War Despatches of Kenneth Slessor (UQP, 1987).

As the Biographer of A.B. Banjo Paterson - The Banjo of the Bush, Dr Semmler understood Banjo Paterson. During his lifetime, spanning some of our darkest years i.e. the Great Depression of the 1930's and WWII, Clem was also aware of what Waltzing Matilda meant to the Australian people.

He also clearly understood the events surrounding the penning of Waltzing Matilda, events that inspired Banjo Paterson to write his ballad at old Dagworth Homestead in January 1895, as an allegory of those events.

Waltzing Matilda is not a simple little ditty about a sheep stealing swagman. It is much more than that. In fact the events that led Paterson to pen Waltzing Matilda are probably the last of Australia's great iconic stories as yet to be told at the cinema and/or on our television screens.

That is also another story to be continued...

The late Dr Clem Semmler OBE AM was more that qualified when he named Waltzing Matilda as the;

The Ballad of the Fair Go

The Waltzing Matilda Dot Com Project will put the Ballad of the Fair Go to work, working for a corporation that honours its corporate charter to be true to the Australian ethos of a fair go.

Return to where you left off


Return to Table of Contents or to Home Page