Resting on the banks of the Diamantina River in Queensland's west lies the tiny settlement of Kynuna.
It's best known today for the association with Banjo Patterson's famous 1895 ode - Waltzing Matilda. The song tells of a 'swagman' (itinerant wanderer/worker) who, while camping by an outback waterhole snatches a sheep that had come in for a drink. On being confronted by the constabulary he throws himself into the billabong. The legend behind the song goes that in 1894 Samuel Hoffmeister, an immigrant and union protagonist, was involved in a dispute between shearers and squatters at Dagworth Station. The Waltzing Matlida lyrics state that he stole a sheep although it has been rumoured that he was a known troublemaker and may have burnt the Dagworth shearing shed down. Whatever the case, Samuel Hoffmeister, ran afoul of the law and ended up dead - officially by his own hand. The final verse of Patterson's poem is -
Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
"You'll never catch me alive", said he.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me."
The billabong in question is most likely Combo Waterhole, 13km south of Kynuna and part of the Combo Waterhole Conservation Park.
Kynuna's other great claim to fame is the famous Blue Heeler Hotel. Built in 1889 it was originally known as the Kynuna Hotel and was a drinking haunt of Banjo Patterson. It's the only surviving pub of three in town and was the first place Waltzing Matilda was performed.
Established at the junction of five tracks Kynuna was used as a teamsters camp and supply depot for Kynuna Station. It was gazetted as a town in 1894 and at its height had a population of 700.
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