One is tempted to use the words tramp or hobo or vagabond, but I think Soubriquet was much closer by describing this person as an "itenerant worker." That might be TOO charitable, and the truth probably lies somewhere in between. First and foremost, the swagman is a free spirit, with wanderlust in his heart and a desire to see what's over the next horizon. Work? Well, they do odd jobs to pick up a bit of money along the way, or trade their labor for food, but mostly they aren't looking to stay in one place too long.
The word swagman is used in Australia and New Zealand, though sometimes the word sundowner or tussocker is used interchangeably, some sources say.
My dictionary isn't much help. It defines swagman as someone who carries a swag.
Let's just leave it at "temporary transient worker."
This is the bag or bedroll the swagman carries on his back. In cartoons this is depicted a bandana tied around a few things and carried over the sholder on a stick. This would hardly hold enough to keep a man alive. So a swag is a bedroll, and their few things are rolled up inside it and carried on their back.
Most just say pond or small lake and let it go. Actually it is what we Americans call an oxbow or "oxbow lake." (These are formed when a river changes it's course and leaves water behind in what was once the old river bed, usually "U" shaped; they are stillwaters which are next to the new riverbed.) Super good fishing there, and pleasant to camp out next to. If you don't mind mosquitoes. Needless to say, livestock who are foraging on their own come to billabongs to drink.
A kind of Eucalyptus tree that often grows near billabongs.
Sometimes called billy can. (U.S.) This is just a camping utensil used to cook over an open fire. Often these are handmade, such as out of a large vegetable can with a wire handle fashioned on the top so it looks like a little bucket. You use them to boil water or make soup or stew. Ok, "tin" to you.
These should not be confused with billy club or Billy the Kid. Those things are very different.
I always thought this was a lamb. When I was little, in school, I thought it was a rabbit. I suppose you don't care about my erroneous thoughts as a child, sleeping among my books. I think it is just a generic Australian term for a sheep, especially a loner that would be going to the water on it's own. But the thing I don't see is how the swagman could get a whole sheep, lamb or not, into his tuckerbag (where he kept his food, inside his swag.) Also, I think the stockman and troopers were just being bullies, not really knowing if he had taken a sheep. Well, where the hell would it be? Were they blind that they couldn't see a struggling sheep in a swag? Give me a break. They assumed. If I had been the swagman, I would have gotten a lawyer and sued them for defamation instead of drowning myself. But maybe he was just high or something.
Aussie slang for green volkswagon.
Like Soubriquet said.
I started to say a stockman is what we would call a rancher. But that's not true, since a rancher runs cattle, not sheep. So a man who tends stock. Man.
Police, more or less.
But how likely is it that a stockman who saw a swagman by a billabong would run and get the cops before drawing down on him? Huh? Huh? Not bloody likely.
Originally one of those huge greatcoats that soldiers used to wear in winter. But in this context we're just talking about the swagman's swag, the closest thing to him, spoke of in feminine terms. Matilda was just the name the soldiers used to call it though. It kept them warm.
12. To waltz is a carryover from old German, when apprentices used to travel from craftsman to craftsman to learn their trades. Waltz in that context means travel. Waltzing Matilda, then, is to travel with your sweetie swagbag.
13. Cark it
To croak. To kick the bucket. To bite the big one.
I guess that wasn't on the list.