Wallaby Track Canvas
What is the Wallaby Track

So where did the phrase “on the Wallaby Track” come from?

During the 1800’s through until the early 20th century it was common practice for men to travel the Australian outback looking for work.

It was at this early time in white man’s history in Australia that the swagman was born. When the swagman headed out across the land he was considered to be “on the wallaby track.”

Generally the wallaby track was not a marked route, but the path the swagman took while looking for his next job. The swagman’s name originated quite literally from the fact that he carried all his worldly possessions in a swag on his back.

In the most part the swag was a couple of sheets of oilskin that he slept in at night and in which blankets, food and clothes were rolled up into by day.

Notable Australian poets at the time wrote extensively of the thousands of men travelling all over the outback, during hard times, to look for work. The now famous song by “Banjo” Patterson, Waltzing Maltida (that almost became Australia’s National Anthem), was written about a swagman who was on the wallaby track, pushed his luck too far and took his own life rather than face the consequences.

There were also a lot of artists who depicted the scenes of these times. Frederick McCubbin painted “On The Wallaby Track” in 1896 about a swagman looking for work while providing for a wife and young baby. (This painting was used during a Kit Kat television Advertisement during the 1980’s)

Below is a photograph from the archives of the National Library Of Australia. The photograph was taken in 1880 and is titled 'On the wallaby track'. In this case it depicts shearers on the track looking for the next job that came their way.

The last 150 years have seen times & technology improve dramatically, with the invent of the aeroplane and probably within the next 50 years common commercial space travel.

However now, as much as ever before, Australians (and overseas tourists) are heading outback. These days most people are travelling to see the beauty of the land, rather than trying to find work. Some of the more adventurous still to go waltzing matilda with a swag on the back, but the increasingly more popular choice is to hang a camper trailer or caravan on the back – of the vehicle - and tour the country that way. In this day and age the choices of accommodation almost anywhere in Australia is limitless, from a five star bed to bedding down under a million stars.

But it would seem that no matter when, how or where you go in this wide brown land you can be sure you will see increasing numbers of people on the modern day Wallaby Track .

What is the Wallaby Track

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