In Australia’s early days of large sheep runs, a key character in the development was the itinerant workers who became known as swaggies. They are remembered today in Banjo Patterson’s poem and song Waltzing Matilda. Walking from property to property looking for work, they provided an important supply of labour to the Squatters as they trudged the tracks with their swag (Matilda) on their back. (a bed roll with all of their worldly possessions rolled up in it).
They would walk for many hundreds of miles, occasionally getting a lift on a wagon, but mostly on foot. They would take on any work and often were put on as a cook, shearer, shepherd, fence builder, rabbit trapper, Dingo trapper or any other job they were offered.
George Everard was such a person travelling the Wimmera and Mallee region. He wandered as far as Adelaide, Melbourne and even Phillip Island. His wanderings would take him up through Mildura to the north when there was no town just a sheep run called Mildura Run, and south to Portland. He visited Melbourne often and spent time in a fledgling Mount Gambia.
George had a good education in England before coming to work for his uncle in Melbourne. He didn’t take well to the work and set out on the path of the swaggy, Keeping a journal as he traveled. In his later years he sat down in a hut at the Albacutya run and put his memories down.
It is rare to get a document from the perspective of the Swaggy but here is one by George Everard. It is a fascinating read and gives an insight to the birth of Australia from the point of view of these famous itinerant workers.
I hope you enjoy it.