Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Winter (bush paddock dreaming)

For some people winter is a season to persevere through or avoid altogether by traveling to tropic destinations. I have already noticed people complaining about the rain and the impending chill. Their moods darken and they scurry home as quickly as they can to sit by a heater and watch TV. Each to their own.

Winter has the opposite effect for me, it beckons me to leave my abode and head into the wilderness. I was fortunate enough to grow up on a farm. We lived a fare way out of town so for entertainment on the weekend I used to go for a walk up to the back bush paddock. My favourite time of year was winter, I would dress for the occasion wearing my flannel shirt footy jumper and my grandfathers old world war one trench coat. The coat would skim along the ground as i was only around 13 years old. Those old trench coats were as rough as guts and felt very abrasive around your neck, but they were bloody warm (wish I still had it). Initially I would take along a BSA air rifle and latter I was given an old single shot .22 rifle. The skill of hunting rabbits was honed to a fine art over time and I could often get to within meters of my prey. I still have the old hunting knife which must be over 30 years old (a made in japan bowie).

Truth be told I enjoyed just being out in the mist, rain and the bitter cold afternoons. The solitude of walking through the forest, the smell of the rain on the eucalyptus trees and the sound of the bird life are all etched into my mind.

Nowadays I'm a long way away from that top bush paddock, but every year as winter approaches memories of my childhood beckon me to head outdoors and seek the solitude of a winter forest.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

RM Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre

I read with interest that a Bushcraft school will soon be opened in Queensland. The RM Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre will provide instruction on contemporary and traditional Bushcraft skills. This is a great initiative considering the lack of Bushcraft schools/courses in Australia. May it be the first of many.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A-Z of Bushcraft

One of my aims with this site is to share the great resources that are available to bushcraft enthusiasts. One of the best that I have encountered is the A-Z of bushcraft and Survival site. Here you will find an array of amusing videos on essential bushcraft skills by presenter Andrew Price. The production is excellent and I look forward to further initiatives from Andrew and his crew. As a sampler I have embedded the fire making lesson. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Bushcraft what is it. The Oxford dictionary says a skill for living in the bush!

Not that descriptive really however; it is a tough question and there are a few different schools of thoughts on the practice of bushcraft and often survival skills are thrown into the mix. In the UK it appears to be a very popular pursuit all thanks to Ray Mears. There is a great site Bushcraftuk which suggests a sizable community of enthusiasts. The UK adherents are into basic outdoor skills such as making traditional shelters out of the resources at hand, fire lighting techniques, and woodworking skills using small 4inch blade scandi ground knives.

In the US it appears to be more about survival skills, big knifes, hunting and hiking. Although I confess that I have not really explored the US philosophy in the same depth as the UK counterparts.

In Australia, well there really isn't a movement as such. The Bush Tucker man (Les Hiddins) popularised many of the skills necessary to survive in the outback in his show but since then there has been no well known exponent. I suspect that there are many people in the Australian wilderness using bushcraft skills with out labeling them as such.

I guess from my perspective I define bushcraft in a very general manner. It's about outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, exploration and traditional yet proven skills used to thrive in nature; finding water, fire craft and techniques for setting up camp. A minimalist approach using a small kit of tools as opposed to carrying every gadget under the sun would be how I classify my style.

I guess I shall flesh out my idea of buschcraft over the proceeding posts. What to expect, well lots of reviews on equipment, exploration of techniques and discussions on life in the wilderness.

And yes the above insights are horrible generalisations......but I had to start somewhere.