Ghosts speak of murder, love scandals to author

“Banjo had been engaged eight years to Sarah, which might suggest the relationship was on the way out, but the fact is it destroyed both the women’s lives.

“Sarah left Australia and lived in London and Christina never married.”

In 1995 O’Keeffe interviewed Dianna Baillieu, Ted Baillieu’s’ mother, who said her great-aunt Christina never got over Banjo.

“Dianna told me it was all over him making passes at Christina,” O’Keeffe said.

“She said he was a cad and a rotter and the Macpherson brothers told him to never darken their doorstep again.

“Christina never married either and according to Dianna Baillieu she thought that Christina never got over Banjo Paterson.

“As Dianna said, even though there were great distances the social circle was very small.

“Everyone knew what was going on. In those days you didn’t go with someone and then break it off. Women didn’t bounce back likRe they would today.

“Banjo was probably our first, you might say, pop star.

“By the time he got to Dagworth Station he was about to have his book of poems published and you can imagine what it would be like — a Christmas party with everyone there. Christina played him a tune and something happened.

“I’m expecting backlash from the love affair and that I’m contending that the swagman may have been shot by the squatter or one of three policemen.

“Christina is Ted Baillieu’s great-aunt, Bob is her brother, Ted’s great-uncle, who I’m suggesting may have shot the iconic swag man.

“That’s the truth.”

O’Keeffe said he had no doubt about why the song resonated so strongly.

“Although it’s not our national anthem, it has more of our national character than the national anthem,” he said.

“(In Waltzing Matilda) people recognise the ethos of a fair go. We had come through the convict days with freedom of thought, which is more important than anything else.

“There is no doubt this will make people think differently about it and what it means.”

O’Keeffe said Warrnambool residents should be proud of their connection to Waltzing Matilda and should celebrate it.

Comments are closed.