[Update: the new Wynnchester “Wild Canvas” Australian Swags are now available to buy online from www.wynnchester.co.uk – see latest post. Designed by us and exclusively made by Spirits Intent bespoke tent makers.
Australian Swag bags are quite unique to Down Under – a thick canvas ‘bivvi’ with waterproof floor which rolls up as a bedroll to go in the back of the ‘Ute’ (Aussie pick-up truck) or in my case in the canoe for river trips – too heavy for hiking they can also be used horse riding and there’s some lighter versions suitable for bikers.
There’s a lot of genuine Australian swags available on Ebay, see here http://shop.ebay.co.uk/i.html?LH_AvailTo=3&_nkw=swag+canvas – worth a look but the postage is pretty heavyweight – but great for looking at the real Aussie swags that are available over there: lots of different shapes and sizes.
From Wikipedia: “In Australian historical terms, a swag is a waterproof bedroll … In the 1800’s and first half of the 20th century a swag-man was an itinerant rural worker – usually but not always sheep shearers – who carried their bedroll ‘swag’ with their belongings wrapped in them on their back.
Before motor transport was common, foot travel over long distances was essential to workers who were travelling in the Australian bush and who could not afford a horse. Itinerant workers who travelled from farm to farm sheep shearing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were called “swagmen” because they carried all their possessions in a swag. This image was immortalised in Australian culture by the song Waltzing Matilda.”
See our full post on the “History & Romance of the Australian Swag“.
Some come with various additions like mesh screens to keep out bugs, simple poles or hoops to help shed water, or small porches to keep your boots dry. Some are made to be set up in the back of the Ute itself, or on a trailer or 4×4 roof top.
The beauty of them is the simple roll-and-go nature – stop where you want, unroll it and you’re ready for the night – sleeping bags or blankets can stay rolled up inside during the day: they aren’t small when packed up though, but there’s nothing better for a night under the stars.
The Swag rolled up in the canoe – ready to travel:
A modern Australian swag:
The swag rolled up in the back of the Landrover for overland and off-road camping trips:
And then simply unrolled for sleeping directly in the back of the Landrover:
See also Ray Mears’s swag camp in the Australian desert on TV.