A swagman (also called a swaggie, sundowner or tussocker) is an old Australia and New Zealand term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag or bedroll.
Particularly during the Depression of the 1890s and the Great Depression of the 1930s, unemployed men travelled the rural areas of Australia on foot, their few meagre possessions rolled up and carried in their swag. Typically, they would seek work in farms and towns they travelled through, and in many cases the farmers, if no permanent work was available, would provide food and shelter in return for some menial task.
-Thanks to Wikipedia.
BULLI, Wednesday. — Large numbers of swagsmen continue to make their way south. Their callings at private houses— ostensibly for food — is becoming a nusiance.
Mr. Wheatly, licensee of the Bulli Pass Hotel, Thirroul, while sitting in the bar parlor conversing with a friend, had a suspicion that someone was interfering with the till in the bar.
Jumping up he gained the bar, and found a tramp inside, and the till empty. He demanded the money from the man, who protested he hadn’t any.
Drawing a revolver, Wheatly told the fellow to ‘shell out,’ which he did, and there being no police about, was allowed to depart in peace.
- Evening News (Sydney) Wednesday 15 December 1897