Mudcat Café message #4071701 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4071701
Posted By: Stewie
12-Sep-20 - 11:35 PM
Thread Name: Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Some additional information re 'Waltjim bat Matilda' posted above. Ali Mills is the grand-niece of the late Val McGinness who had an old-time string band in pre-WW2 Darwin. Val was the writer of 'Waltjim but Matilda' (original had 'but' not 'bat') and Ali adapted it by adding some Gurindji and Larrakia words. Jeff Corfield, who lived in Darwin for many years, wrote a book in tribute to the life and music of Val McGinness whom he described as 'one of the last of Darwin's old string band musicians: 'String Bands and Shake Hands'. Val died in 1988. Shortly before Val's death, Jeff made extensive recordings of his songs and tunes and these have been deposited in the Northern Territory Archives. Val's brother, John (Jack), was also a musician. In relation to 'Waltjim but Matilda', Val told Jeff in 1988:

We (Johnny and I) would start off singing 'once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong' and the rest of the band would play with us. When we'd finish that first verse, I'd come in and say 'hey you fella, you chingim that song wrong way!' (and they'd say) 'yeah, which right way you chingim?' and I'd say 'you blow that bamboo (that didgeridoo) and I'll chingim proper way for you' ... and Johnny would get the guitar and he'd go dung dung a dung - make noise like a didgeridoo and I'd sing it see!

Here is one of Val's songs. His brother wrote the music.


Have you been on the beautiful Adelaide River?
Have you ever seen kangaroos and wallabies at play?
Trees are ever green on the beautiful Adelaide River
That is where my heart is and where I long to stay

Bamboo trees sway in the breeze while moon is rising high
Waters rolling, lovers strolling, just like you and I
Night birds calling, shadows falling, over silver streams
Oh how grand to hold your hand just like I do in dreams

We fell in love on the beautiful Adelaide River
Moon rose above, lighting love's glorious way
You were in my arms on the beautiful Adelaide River
Darling, I love you for ever and a day