Swagging terms [28 February 1935]

[Editor: Some information about slang used by swagmen; from the “So They Say” column, published in The Queenslander, 28 February 1935.]

Swagging terms

For the many descriptive terms bush travellers have for carrying the swag, there are simple, and in most cases interesting, derivations.

The “swaggie” is said to be “on the wallaby,” because the wallaby has many little tracks through the scrubs, and follows them to and from feeding places.

The blue colour favoured in blankets is the origin of the phrase, “humping the bluey,” while the similar phrase, “humping the drum,” comes from the drums which drummer boys carried in the armies of long ago.

Matilda was a common name in old comic songs, and it was only natural that the bachelors of the swag should apply it to their constant partners. “Waltzing Matilda” is suggested by the habit of many wanderers of going round a circle of stations. Some always keep on the same circuit, hence the term, “the racecourse.”

An ordinary swag is strapped at both ends, and the sling, usually a towel or muffler, is passed under the straps and tied. The front of the sling forms a rest for the hand, the thumb being often hooked against it, a habit which soon acquired the name of “pushing the knot.”

— E.S.

The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.), 28 February 1935, p. 2

Editor’s notes:
muffler = a long thick scarf, often made of wool, worn around the neck, and/or face, for warmth

station = a large rural holding for raising sheep or cattle; the term “property” is used for smaller holdings

swaggie = swagman (also spelt “swaggy”)

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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