Green’s Dictionary of Slang

swagman n.2

also swagsman
[swag n.1 (7) + sfx -man]

(Aus./N.Z.) an itinerant worker, who travels with his pack on his back while looking for employment; thus swagwoman.

Sth Australian Advertiser (Adelaide) 26 Feb. 2/7: A SWAGMAN’S PHILOSOPHY. / Whilst travelling through those southern climes, / Half swagman and half poet, / I’ve noticed many scores fo times / (But, pshaw! perchance all know it) / [etc].
[Aus]Sth Bourke & Mornington Jrnl 5 June 3/4: Two swagsmen on the ‘wallaby’ entered and called for a beer.
[UK]J. Brunton Stephens Drought and Doctrine in Works 309: Remembrin’ the needful, I gets up an’ quietly slips To the porch to see – a swagsman – with our bottle at his lips.
G. Sutherland Tales of Goldfields 89: One of these prospecting swagsmen was journeying towards Maryborough.
[UK]‘Aus. Colloquialisms’ in All Year Round 30 July 66/1: A ‘swagman’ is [...] the name given to any one tramping the country [...] and carrying his wordly goods slung around him in a bundle, which is always known as his ‘swag’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Old Stone Chimney’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 39: When a swagman came as the day was ending / Along a path he semed to know.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer II 128: The able-bodied swagsmen hastened towards Rainbar.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Waltzing Matilda’ [lyrics] Down came a jum buck to drink at the water hole, / Up jumped the swagman and caught him with glee.
[UK]W.S. Walker Zealandia’s Guerdon 57: A couple of stray ‘swagmen’—men travelling, seeking employment—have just dropped in.
[Aus]Camperdown Chron. (Vic.) 19 Nov. 2s/7: ‘Well, he always runs like that when he sees me,’ said the swagwoman. ‘You see I’m his wife’.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 23 Oct. 21/4: You have a steady job, and insneering at the man youi call a swagman you have betrayed your own ignorance.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin 20 June 38/6: A swagman came up for a ‘hand-out’.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 465: swag-man, A tramp. The word is said to be an Australian term but is quite common in Canada.
[Aus]Register (Adelaide) 14 July 4/6: Coming up the whitwe road, / Moves a swagman old.
[Aus]D. Stivens Tramp and Other Stories 24: Swagmen everywhere . . . looking for work.
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 30 Nov. 19s/3: [headline] A Very Surprised Swagman.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 7 Aug. 1/4: [headline] The ‘Swaggie’ now travels by air. [...] Swagmen sometimes check in their billies and blankets as air frieght and travel in luxury.
[Aus]R. Park ‘Ballad of the Shiralee’ in Niland Shiralee 5: The swagman crawls across the plain / The drought it prowls beside him.
[Aus]H.P. Tritton Time Means Tucker 34: Dutchy and myself were probably the only swagmen present.
[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 13: Remembering Jocka’s tip I did not mention the word swagman, but told the girl I was ‘travelling through’.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 50: Swagman, swaggie: One who carries a swag. A wanderer.