I remember swaggies coming to our farm, I don’t remember them coming to the door, though usually the dogs made such a racket they waited outside the yard. There was one man in particular who turned up regularly, known as Mr. Flannigan. I remember seeing him standing there with his swag slung from his shoulder and his black billy and tin mug. Mum always made him sandwiches with meat if it was available, filled his billy with tea, and gave him extra tea leaves, salt, sugar and flour. Sometimes they cut some wood, but Mum usually didn't take up this offer. After he went on his way, I’m sure she went to the party-line phone to alert the neighbours that he was headed their direction. One swaggie surprised us with a request for boot polish. We found out later that it made a potent drink when mixed with methylated spirits.
The swagmen mostly went from farm to farm, dodging towns as the police moved them on. I do remember another swaggie who regularly came into Violet Town, known as Farmer Hill. A tall thin man with long flowing hair, he was always bare footed, even in winter. I was a little scared of him!
The swaggies were harmless, but the gypsies were another kettle of fish. They arrived in big cars, the women in long dresses with large pockets, and entered the shops in groups, with some men distracting the shopkeepers while the women looked around, fingering goods and pocketing some. Their visits were not welcome! However the swagmen were tolerated and fed.