The Swagman and his Family


      The  Swagman and his Family

inspired by the painting
by FREDERICK McCUBBIN
ON THE WALLABY TRACK, 1896

Life is tough in eighteen-ninetysix.
Australia in the midst of depression is.
There is no work,
men could not earn a Quid.

What could they do, but grab a swag
take the missus and the kid.
and start to walk
the ‘wallaby track’.

They have to go
where there is work,
leave cities, head for the bush.
Find work, where the tucker is.

For days they were on the track.
Heat and flies were eager to attack.
The missus shouts –  “Stop!”
For a minute or two of rest.

“I and junior need a drink.
‘ve walked too many miles today
A cuppa would be just the thing.
Or at least, anything to drink.”

Alright then, her hubby says.
I let the billy boil,
while you, my love
under the Paperbark sit and rest.

Exhausted by the heat of day
the woman and her baby boy
go right to sleep
under nature’s canopy.

That’s it, for the day, the swagman thinks
we’ll make camp for the night,
here by the creek.
Tomorrow is another day.

Cooper’s farm is fifteen miles away.
With any luck and much grid
They’ll make it,
before the sun the hundred hits.

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One thought on “The Swagman and his Family

  1. It sounds to me the swagman as well as his family had a pretty tough life! It can’t have been easy for a woman with a kid to walk around the outback like this with her hubby who was forever looking for work wherever some work happened to be available.
    This poem describes very well the hard life these people had in the 1800s during the depression. Thanks, Berlioz, for putting a link to it in my blog!

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