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"Lift up your swags and follow me!
Take up your swags and follow me!
Hark to the Bush a-calling:
Follow me, follow me home!"

—From Along the Track by Robert Henderson Croll

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                Swags up!

Swags up! and yet I turn upon the way.
  The yellow hill against a dapple sky,
  With tufts and clumps of thorn, the bush whereby
All through the wonder-pregnant night I lay
Until the silver stars were merged in grey
  --Our fragrant camp--demand a parting sigh:
  New tracks, new camps, and hearts for ever high,
Yet brief regret with every welcome day.

Dear dreamy earth, receding flickering lamp,
  Dear dust wherein I found this night a home,
    Still for a memory's sake I turn and cling,
Then take the road for many a distant camp,
  Among what hills, by what pale whispering foam,
    With eager faith for ever wandering.

--John Le Gay Brereton

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From Landlopers by John Le Gay Brereton

In The Ways of the Bushwalker, On Foot in Australia by Melissa Harper (UNSW Press, 2007), we find that as early as May 1788, about four months after the arrival in Australia of the First Fleet, some of the people were walking for pleasure. In a letter to his brother in England, George Worgan, surgeon to the inhabitants of the fledgling colony of New South wales, wrote:

"We sometimes, put a Bit of Salt Beef or Pork, Bisket, a Bottle of O be joyful, in a Snapsack throw it over our Backs, take a Hatchet, a Brace of Pistols, and a Musket, and away we go, scouring the Woods, sometimes East, West, N.S. if Night overtakes us, we light up a rousing Fire, Cut Boughs & make up a Wig-Wam, open our Wallets, and eat as hearty of our Fare as You, of your Dainties, then lie down on a Bed, which tho' not of Roses, yet we sleep as sound as You do, on down; I enjoy these little Rambles, and I think you would, however, I think it is hardly worth your while to come and try them.'"

We have gathered together some books by walkers and some books about walking, which we hope you will enjoy.

Landlopers (1899) by John Le Gay Brereton A charming tale of a walk of about one month's duration during March and April. Two travellers set out from Sydney, crossed the Blue Mountains and returned to Sydney via the Jenolan Caves, Mount Werong, Wombeyan Caves, Berrima and Kiama. The book is littered with drawings and scraps of verse.
Pictures of Travel (1907-1913) by William Mogford Hamlet In the early 1900s Hamlet walked twice from Brisbane to Sydney and once from Sydney to Melbourne, each walk taking about a month. The accounts of his walks were serialised in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Those accounts, gathered together here, give a lively commentary on his trips and provide us with a picture of the south east coast of Australia as it was more than 100 years ago.
With Swag and Billy: A Guide to Walking Trips in Tourist Districts of New South Wales (1910) by H. J. Tompkins This booklet was published by the New South Wales government Tourist Bureau. It describes many walks or varying duration. In the details provided in a number of the trips, reference is made to the boat meeting the train at Milson's point, or at Circular Quay. To which boat is the author referring? Upon reflection, one realises that he is referring to the boat which plied between Circular Quay and Milson's point, ferrying passengers to and fro across Sydney Harbour so that they could catch a train on the other side. There was, of course, no bridge spanning the harbour at the time the book was written.
The Open Road in Victoria: Being the ways of Many Walkers (1928) by Robert Henderson Croll Croll describes many walks throughout Victoria—strolls, one, two and three day outings, and extended tours—and offers a commentary of his own experiences. The many apt quotations provide the sauce--"There is an inn in the town of Piacenza into which I once walked while I was still full of immortality." (Hilaire Belloc.)
Along the Track (1930) by Robert Henderson Croll Croll describes his experiences "along the track" including taking baths and walking in snow as well as describing many of the character he meets along the way. As with his earlier book, the quotations are a feature.
Peaks and Plateaus of Victoria (192-?) by The Betterment and Publicity Board, Victorian Railways This booklet, includes a map showing all of of the "Mountain Areas and Peaks and Plateaus of Victoria." Mount Buffalo National Park is covered in detail, as well as many other areas in the Victoria.
Wonderful Walks in Victoria (1931) by The Betterment and Publicity Board, Victorian Railways This booklet provides a glimpse of Victoria as it was nearly 100 years ago. A number of interesting photographs illustrate the populariy of walking at the time.
 The Romance of the Swag (1907) by Henry Lawson. The first item in this collection of short stories discusses the "swag."
Bushwalkers New South Wales Web Site Bushwalking Magazine published by The Sydney Bushwalkers including Annuals from 1937 to 1948.
The Amateur Tramp (2018) by Colin Choat Colin Choat records the walk of Aidan de Brune, the first person to walk around the perimeter of Australia. He set off in 1921, unaccompanied and unassisted, and walked 10,000 miles, (16,000km) from Sydney to Sydney, anticlockwise. The book is available free of charge.
The Icknield Way (1916) by Edward Thomas This book, from Project Gutenberg describes a walk along The Icknield Way, an ancient British road.
Walking Essays (1912) by Arthur Sidgwick This book, from Project Gutenberg contains a number of essays concerning walking.
Walking (1912) by Henry David Thoreau This book, from Project Gutenberg is a classic essay on experiencing the natural world.

Walking Party at the Grampians

Walking Party at the Grampians c.1930—From "Wonderful Walks in Victoria."

Updated 6 August 2023