A billabong (//, BIL-ə-bong) is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Billabongs, reflecting the arid Australian climate in which these "dead rivers" are found, fill with water seasonally and are dry for a greater part of the year.
The etymology of the word billabong is disputed. The word is most likely derived from the Wiradjuri term bilabaŋ, which means "a watercourse that runs only after rain" and is derived from bila, meaning "river", and possibly bong or bung, meaning "dead". One source, however, claims that the term is of Scottish Gaelic origin.
References in Australian culture
Banjo Paterson's popular song Waltzing Matilda is set alongside a billabong, while Mary Grant Bruce wrote a series of books, known as The Billabong Series, in which the adventures of the Linton family, who live at Billabong station from around 1911 until the late 1920s, are depicted.
Billabong is the name of an Australian surfwear, skateboard and snowboard brand.
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- Skilton, St J. The Survey of Scottish Gaelic in Australia and New Zealand, p. 300. Quote: A respondent to his survey said: "'Bill' = 'bile' = 'lip or mouth' and 'abong' is from 'abhainn' = 'river' with a parasitic 'G' added. A billabong probably has a mouth shape of sorts being at a bend in a river." University of Fribourg, Switzerland, June 2004. Last accessed 15 March 2008
- Clarke, R. "Australianisms in 'Waltzing Matilda'", Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 10 December 2003. Last accessed 5 November 2009.
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- "billabong", Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. Accessed 15 March 2008
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- Bruce, Mary Grant. Billabong Adventurers.
- Pierce, Peter (2009). The Cambridge history of Australian literature. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88165-4.
- "Trees at a billabong". national museum australia. Australian Government. 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
Media related to Billabongs of Australia at Wikimedia Commons