The Swagman and his Family


This poem was inspired by the painting by FREDERICK McCUBBIN "ON THE WALLABY TRACK", 1896

This poem was inspired by the painting
by FREDERICK McCUBBIN
“ON THE WALLABY TRACK”, 1896

Life was 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 are on the track.
Heat and flies are 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 again hundred hits.

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3 thoughts on “The Swagman and his Family

  1. Thanks, Sharmishtha. It was a tough time in those days. Social services did not exist. In a big, empty country with wast distances between towns and cities it was hard to travel.

    We saw a swagman a couple of weeks ago on the side of the road. But today they do it by choice.

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