Word for the day…do you eat jumbuck, mate?

A jumbuck is another fun word I found in a Reader’s Digest Word Power quiz….

In the song “Waltzing Matilda” it’s a jumbuck (an Australian sheep) that the swagman (an itinerant Australian laborer who carries his personal belongings in a bundle as he travels around in search of work) catches beside the billabong (a branch of a river forming a backwater or stagnant pool).

To add more deliciousness to this post I will add that: a swagman can also be referred to as a swaggie, sundowner or tussocker, and that the title “Waltzing Matilda” is slang for traveling by foot with one’s goods in a “Matilda” (a bag slung over one’s back).

Don’t ya just love it?


3 thoughts on “Word for the day…do you eat jumbuck, mate?

  1. from the above terms, “to waltz Matilda” is to travel with a swag, that is, with all one’s belongings on one’s back wrapped in a blanket or cloth. The exact origins of the term “Matilda” are disputed; one fanciful derivation states that when swagmen met each other at their gatherings, there were rarely women to dance with. Nonetheless, they enjoyed a dance, and so they danced with their swags, which was given a woman’s name. However, this appears to be influenced by the word “waltz”, hence the introduction of dancing. It seems more likely that, as a swagman’s only companion, the swag came to be personified as a woman.


  2. He would be considered dangerous by Australian authorities today. If he were not their national symbol of the past, the government agents would sock him away in prison. When someone shows too much individuality, he must be watched. He may well be a terrorist or illegal immigrant. The USA Homeland Security also watches anyone who is a bit weird. In past days in Texas, Arizona, and the Outback or Australia, life was spiced up and made colorful by these odd fellows. In Australia, it was the Swagman. A swagman, also called a swaggie, sundowner or tussocker, is an old Australian and New Zealand term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag (bedroll). Also characteristic of swagman attire was a hat strung with corks to ward off flies.


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