- Camping By The Billabongby LisaMay
This work has reached the exceptional level
Too much curiosity can have consequences. (359 words)
Camping By The Billabong by LisaMay
Supernatural Fiction - Not Horror writing prompt entry

Janet was obsessed about the paranormal. Her insatiable desire to chase after ghosts had previously led to problems, but this time she’d outdone herself.

She’d travelled from America to go on a guided camping vacation in Australia. Now here she was, at a campsite by a remote little lake in northern Queensland, enjoying a sing-along around the fire. Janet was curious about the words to one of the songs, ‘Waltzing Matilda’. The haunting chorus had captured her attention: And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong: ‘You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me’.

Being intrigued by supernatural activities, Janet asked many questions. Estelle, a fellow camper, explained: “That song first appeared as a nineteenth-century bush ballad and it’s now considered our national anthem. It’s about a swagman (a travelling farm worker) who stole a jumbuck (a sheep). When confronted by the squatter (the landowner) and some troopers (the cops), rather than be jailed he jumped into the billabong (a waterhole) and drowned.”

Afterwards, one of the campers, Barnaby from Brisbane, told Janet: “Aboriginal legend believes this billabong itself has a resident ghost, a giant crocodile spirit. It’s down the other end of the lake, beyond that grove of trees. You wouldn’t be able to go there, though. It’s taboo ‘secret men’s business’ to the Aborigines.”

That information didn’t deter Janet. Consumed by her fascination for ghosts and her desire to see one, she snuck out of the tent later that night when everyone was asleep, and crept down to the trees. It was certainly spooky there. Maybe it was the presence of the disapproving old Aboriginal men she was sensing.

Janet crouched quietly on a low embankment, gazing across the billabong’s moonlit smoothness. A gentle breeze rippled towards her, raising goosebumps on her arms and ruffling the lake’s surface. Suddenly a shape erupted out of the water. Startled, Janet slipped and fell in. She drowned.

Barnaby had been having a pee and saw it happen. He said later: “Weird how it was the Swagman’s Ghost that got her. Maybe he had Aboriginal blood, or maybe he thought she was a sheep, with that shaggy blond hair.”


Writing Prompt
Topic is supernatural fiction - not horror fiction.
Write a story.

No vulgar words, sexual terms, murder, gory story, or profanity allowed--no warnings
MUST be about HUMANS--not animals
Minimum of 320 -and maximum of words 360
No writing on the ONE picture that's allowed /No animation with picture or music
One color of font


Author Notes
Author note for background information:

Crocodiles inhabit many waterways of northern Australia.

(To hear the song, Google 'Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda'. It will come up in YouTube with several versions. I'm having trouble pasting the link in.)

As Pantygynt pointed out in his review, the tune was originally an English folk song from the 1700s. You can listen to it here ('The Bold Fusilier'):
or read 'Marching Through Rochester'.

The following information is taken from various Internet sites:

A billabong is an Australian term for an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course.

Waltzing Matilda is a song developed in the Australian style of poetry and folk music called a bush ballad. Due to its ongoing popularity, it has been called the unofficial national anthem of Australia. [Advance Australia Fair is the official anthem; God Save The Queen is played when British Royalty visits.]

The title, Waltzing Matilda, is Australian slang for walking through the country looking for work, with one's goods in a Matilda (a bag containing one's possessions) carried over one's back.

The song tells the story of a traveling farm worker making a drink of tea at a bush camp and capturing a sheep to eat. When the sheep's owner arrives with three policemen to arrest the worker for taking the sheep (a crime punishable by hanging), the worker drowns himself in a small watering hole. The worker's ghost stays to haunt the site.

The words to the song were written in 1895 by poet and nationalist, Banjo Paterson. It was first printed as sheet music in 1903. The song has its own museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland.

Here are the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited til his billy boiled
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me


Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred
Up rode the troopers, one, two, three
With that jolly jumbuck that you've got in your tucker bag
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me


Up j'umped the swagman and sprang into the billabong
You'll never take me alive, said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you're passing by that billabong
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me


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