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Timeline of Australian Bushcraft

Corin

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Important: In order to have this discussion we need a clear definition of what Bushcraft skills actually are, for the purpose of my thread I will be using the following;

BUSHCRAFT (Modern): Modern Bushcraft, is the application of Bushcraft Skills, normally practiced as a hobby or recreation, although others practice these skills for other reasons including defense.

BUSHCRAFT SKILLS: Any skill, that is required to live, or make life more comfortable in a non urban, wilderness environment, a definitive list of such skills would be huge, but for simplicity sake please refer to the 10 Bushcraft books by Richard Graves as a guide as it is reasonably comprehensive.


Not fussed what definitions you want to use elswhere but to keep life simple these are what I will be using here unless people agree to something better.



OK Guys I bet you can all name lots of points in history when bushcraft skills evolved, but how many of them include the happenings in Europe and America?

I would like to make a post that sets out the specific time periods in Australian history that can be identified as Era's in Australia's early settlement and discuss what happened in each time period that identifies it. I would also like help identifying what uniquely Australian bushcraft techniques came from the period.

I am no expert on this stuff, not a historian or anything and will research as I go but I figure with all the knowledge on board, you may like to jump in and contribute to the project. for this purpose you will find a list of discussions that are running on various subjects

This is what I have so far, its not much and its open to discussion but it is a start.



Pre 1600Prior to European contact40,000 + years of continual habitation in Australia by the aboriginal nations. Using the primitive skills developed during that period. The base being an intimate knowledge of the land and all things found here.

The land provided everything necessary for habitation, and the people were as much apart of the land as anything else found in the country. They were primarily nomadic, moving to where food could be found throughout the year.
1600-1788Prior to European settlementDuring this period over various parts of Australia there were many landings of European and other nations these had some effect on the local people, and influenced the bushcraft skills of the day.
1788-1815First years of settlementThe arrival of the English, and English ways. During this period the English tried to establish an English lifestyle and ran into many issues, not the least of which was the escape of their cattle, and the failure of their crops, necessitating the employment of bushcraft skills to ensure their continued survival.
1815-1835The early years of explorationDuring this period, vast tracks of land in the interior and fertile regions were opened up, tell us about these people that would leave the sanctuary of the settlement and explore the unknown. What did they eat? where did they sleep? How did they navigate? What bushcraft skills did they employ, and what skills did they learn along the way in order to survive?
1825-1850The SquattersLiving outside the boundaries of civilisation, the early squatters employed bushcraft skills to survive outside of regular supplies and communication. We all know Richard Proenneke as a bushcraft icon, how was what the squatters did so far different?
civilization 1850-1875The Gold rushCultures from around the world enter the Australian bush.
1899-1902The Boer WarIt was as a result of the Boer war that the concepts for the scouting movement were assembled by Baden Powell. Even if for that reason alone I have included it here.
1914-1918World War IThe Great War. Much of the fighting was not done in a manner that in any way related to bushcraft, but as with all conflict, the secret services and intelligence agencies would certainly have done so.
1914-1930The start of the wilderness bushwalking movement, and the fight to preserve wildernessMyles Dumphy, the Mountain trail club, and the fight to save Blue Gum forest and create wilderness national parks
1929-1939The great depressionMany leave the city and return to the bush to find work
1939-1945World War IIWorld War II was a conflict in which many Bushcraft sklills were relied upon for the very survival of many of the soldiers and civilians. Richard Graves 10 Bushcraft books were written as a consequence of and containing many lessons learnt during the war.
1965-1971The Vietnam War
1970-2000The Start of the television bushcraftersAlby Mangels, The Leyland Brothers, Harry Butler to name but a few.
2000-presentThe age of the internet and modern bushcraftingYou Tube, Bushcraft UK Bushcraft US and Bushcraft OZ
 
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Corin

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To facilitate discussion on topics relating to this thread I will be setting up new threads for such discussions.

Here is the index to these discussion threads, once if ever there is enough information I will attempt to compile them into a formal timeline.

I will add more as time goes on and depending on interest.

INDEX to related threads...

The History of the Axe in Australia
The History of the Bushcraft Shelters in Australia
The Australian Explorers, Australian Bushcraft Skill History.
Pre European Australia, Australian Bushcraft Skill History.
World War II, Australian Bushcraft Skill History.
Quintessential Australian Bush knife
Aboriginal Stone Tools
 
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Templar

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Hmmm... could be an interesting thread...

Most of the most iconic items of the Australian Bush can be found in the other earlier countries owned by the British at the time.

The Swag --- The blanket roll carried in the North American colonies and dates back further into the middle ages.
The Billy can --- again comes from the same route.
The canvas water bag --- India and Southern Africa
Boyangs (leg ties) --- the Middle ages in Europe
Flint and steel ---- Europe
The water cart (like the Furphy) ---- India and Southern Africa
Damper --- Ireland & Scotland

Thats just off the top of my head...
 

Corin

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Hmmm... could be an interesting thread...


Most of the most iconic items of the Australian Bush can be found in the other earlier countries owned by the British at the time.

The Swag --- The blanket roll carried in the North American colonies and dates back further into the middle ages.
The Billy can --- again comes from the same route.
The canvas water bag --- India and Southern Africa
Boyangs (leg ties) --- the Middle ages in Europe
Flint and steel ---- Europe
The water cart (like the Furphy) ---- India and Southern Africa
Damper --- Ireland & Scotland

Thats just off the top of my head...

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you misunderstand me, maybe I have not made it very clear.

What you are saying is of course all true but not very relevant to the purpose of this thread. When did those items arrive in Australia, what made them successful here? What adaptations if any were made to make these items more suitable for Australia? The purpose of this thread is to identify the evolution of bushcraft skills and items in Australia.
 
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auscraft

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This sounds very interesting Corin, I will try and give some imput not an easy project but very very interesting
 

Moondog55

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Perhaps the speed of uptake is also of interest.
The Billy
Came during the gold-rush via the French and arrived as the ubiquitous ( Boeuf bouilli ) Boiled Beef; so probably not all that common prior to that.

I think that before the lightweight tin can became readily available as empty food tins it must have been difficult for people to move freely, the kit would simply have been to heavy to move , those enamelled cast iron pots are very heavy.
Also look at the other stuff that came into being around the same time ( give or take) enamelled plates and cups which were easy to look after and much more hygienic than wooden platters and lighter than pewter. I think that we took advantage of every new development in technology, as the kit became lighter we became more mobile.
 

Templar

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Copper and tin plate "Boilers" were very common in the early 1700's in the colonies (not just the British ones either..), and look the same as the cheap tin plate billy's we see in camping shops today. The other items used would also have been the brass kettles of the time which were common also.

@Corin: I may have misunderstood a little of what you said, but it is still pertinent to the thread, it just needs documentation of earliest date of use to fit the "Timeline" you are looking for. In this kind of research it is easier to locate a particular skill/method/equipment piece if you define it first, rather than use the "Scattergun" approach...

Just an observation...
 

auscraft

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The Billy ,Billy can or billycan.
Is a term used in England and Ireland for a light weight camp cooking pot.
In Australia The billycan i believe is commonly accepted by the large cans of bully beef that were shipped for explorations. These cans were then altered to boil water during early outback explorations. Also in Australia the billycan is well known for tea making, one of the most popular Teas in Australia since 1888 was of course Billy Tea.
the billy can and tea making was also well known in regards to the traditional way to make the tea by swing the billy around 3 times over shoulder.
During the depression the billy again became popular with swagman and sometimes lids were made for them to help carry water and a popular can of the times was the large jam cans.
 
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auscraft

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The History of the Bushcraft Shelters in Australia

The Swag
I need to find the info but what makes the swag differ from the bedroll is the way it was carried included the the dilly bag.
 

auscraft

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The History of the Bushcraft Shelters in Australia

The Swag
I need to find the info but what makes the swag differ from the bedroll is the way it was carried included the the dilly bag.
 

Dusty Miller

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The early squatters were more intertested in permanent shelters, of wattle and daub (not truly indigenous tech) or slab hut style construction, and wooden fencing to keep stock in. Some stockyards today are built with cut timber, not steel. Not exactly bushcraft, maybe bushcraft always leads to civilisation in the end. Animal husbandry was also a very important bush skill in Australias development, linked also to communication, transport, supplies and food and income. A lot of the gear you mention was popular in droving, which came much later. People tended not to carrry packs/swags if they weren't dirt poor, they took packhorses.

Not sure bushcraft (historically) is anything more than a transitory phase for expanding populations, prior to establishment the infrastructure of a civilisation. Even in the 18th century, a lot/most of the gear used in oz was from the other side of the planet.
 

darren

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The early squatters were more intertested in permanent shelters, of wattle and daub (not truly indigenous tech) or slab hut style construction, and wooden fencing to keep stock in. Some stockyards today are built with cut timber, not steel. Not exactly bushcraft, maybe bushcraft always leads to civilisation in the end. Animal husbandry was also a very important bush skill in Australias development, linked also to communication, transport, supplies and food and income. A lot of the gear you mention was popular in droving, which came much later. People tended not to carrry packs/swags if they weren't dirt poor, they took packhorses.

Not sure bushcraft (historically) is anything more than a transitory phase for expanding populations, prior to establishment the infrastructure of a civilisation. Even in the 18th century, a lot/most of the gear used in oz was from the other side of the planet.

Here is an example of mulga yards on a friends place near Windorah,
DSC08430.jpg


There are hand cut wells and dry stone walls on the property too that date back to when the area was were selected. The Duracks cooper property is down the road.
 
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Moondog55

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Copper and tin plate "Boilers" were very common in the early 1700's in the colonies (not just the British ones either..), and look the same as the cheap tin plate billy's we see in camping shops today. The other items used would also have been the brass kettles of the time which were common also.

You miss my point Templar. Light, readily available and cheap ( if not free) I know the others were there, but they were expensive
 

Corin

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Does anyone have any references regarding Billys and their history? Lots of great theories there guys.

@Corin: I may have misunderstood a little of what you said, but it is still pertinent to the thread, it just needs documentation of earliest date of use to fit the "Timeline" you are looking for. In this kind of research it is easier to locate a particular skill/method/equipment piece if you define it first, rather than use the "Scattergun" approach...

That is certainly a valid point mate.

The early squatters were more intertested in permanent shelters, of wattle and daub (not truly indigenous tech) or slab hut style construction, and wooden fencing to keep stock in. Some stockyards today are built with cut timber, not steel. Not exactly bushcraft, maybe bushcraft always leads to civilisation in the end. Animal husbandry was also a very important bush skill in Australias development, linked also to communication, transport, supplies and food and income. A lot of the gear you mention was popular in droving, which came much later. People tended not to carrry packs/swags if they weren't dirt poor, they took packhorses.

Not sure bushcraft (historically) is anything more than a transitory phase for expanding populations, prior to establishment the infrastructure of a civilisation. Even in the 18th century, a lot/most of the gear used in oz was from the other side of the planet.

Great points Dusty Miller, I included the early days of squatting as they moved into land that was not developed, and it was the skills with axe and shelter building, not to mention hunting, and self sufficiency that dictated whether they survived or failed. No question, they lived on the land not with it, but I still thought it valid from a bushcraft perspective.

Talking about bushcraft skills historically, up until maybe 1900 I would have to agree but after that the move was back away from civilization to the bush. representing a significant turning point. Prior to that people would go on holiday from the city to the house in the country, but after that people started to go bush to get back to the wild.

To the current day when we find people from the worlds most modern cities getting out and learning friction fire.
 
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Aussie123

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Corin, you forgot to mention the convicts.

Convicts arrived as part of the First Fleet (Botany Bay 20 Jan 1788)
Approx 164,000 convicts were sent to Australia on 806 ships, the last arriving in 1868

Although the convicts were predominantly English and Welsh (70%), Irish (24%), Scottish (5%), there were also convicts from: India, Maoris (from New Zealand), Canada (Hi Bubba), Hong Kong Chinese and at least one Maltese has just been documented earlier this year (that’s history hot off the press).

--

During the gold rush there was a huge influx of people from around the world: American, French, Italian, German, Polish, Hungarian and Chinese.
--

Another era is the age of the explorers approx: 1813 – 1861
These chaps must have pushed the boundaries of technology and technique in their day. Leichhardt and Sturt and many others.

Count Strzelecki named Mount Kosciuszko to honour a Polish hero, and Strzelecki himself has lent his name to many places in Australia.
 

Walker

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Remember that Australia was founded mid-way through the Industrial Revolution, during a boom in technology and social upheaval. Also need to consider the ruling monarchs in Britain at that time - King William IV followed by Queen Victoria. A lot of social change happened under King Billy and even more so - including the pinnacle of 'Empire' under Queen Victoria. This all affected how we were colonised, explored and the mindset of the people at that time - the English could achieve anything, anywhere - great world-wide exploration era.

That photo of the yards at Windorah are reminicent of the Kraals used in South Africa AKA returning soldiers learnt that idea perhaps during the Boer War or maybe before that during the Zulu Wars?

I reckon the humble kerosene tin was perhaps the most widely used thing in the bush for nigh on 100 years - from its origianl use, to a billy, opened-up to form a kitchen sink or animal trough, through to house cladding and ceiling lining.
 

darren

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I reckon the humble kerosene tin was perhaps the most widely used thing in the bush for nigh on 100 years - from its origianl use, to a billy, opened-up to form a kitchen sink or animal trough, through to house cladding and ceiling lining.

We travel alot and are always exploring relics and small museums, The biggest thing you find from early settlers is how they had to adapt what they had to make do, Isolation and distance were the biggest challenges they faced so everything got used and re used. If i was better at catalouging my photos i would be able to find heaps of examples.....
 

Dusty Miller

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I reckon the humble kerosene tin was perhaps the most widely used thing in the bush for nigh on 100 years - from its origianl use, to a billy, opened-up to form a kitchen sink or animal trough, through to house cladding and ceiling lining

+1 to that Walker. Amazing to see what people did with these, made coolgardie safes too. With hessian bags, another big item for reuse. The cattle yards predate Boer culture too, iron age settlements in England also look like the kraals, which look like bronze age settlements... I guess this tech goes back a long way.

I think a very big part of Australian bush culture can be summed up by the two phrases. "Make do and mend" and "Waste not want not". These are from our British roots, not uniquely Australian. Other cultures sum it up differently but "Necessity is the mother of invention". A appropriate mental attitude is at least as important as any piece of tech you happen to have.

@ Corin. Interesting what you say about camping, here is an old poem that makes reference to camping technology (somewhat derisively) written I think interwar. http://fay.iniminimo.com/college/bunyip.htm For your interest in the period after WWII, (everybody was camping after WWI during the depression, just not enjoying it) MW Plate wrote a camping book around 1960-1970 I forget the name, but it was by periwinkle press, grey cover. In it there were many things you would now call bushcraft, making things from wire, getting water from tree roots, witchuti grubs etc. A good read if you can track down a copy.
 

auscraft

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+1 to that Walker. Amazing to see what people did with these, made coolgardie safes too. With hessian bags, another big item for reuse. The cattle yards predate Boer culture too, iron age settlements in England also look like the kraals, which look like bronze age settlements... I guess this tech goes back a long way.

I think a very big part of Australian bush culture can be summed up by the two phrases. "Make do and mend" and "Waste not want not". These are from our British roots, not uniquely Australian. Other cultures sum it up differently but "Necessity is the mother of invention". A appropriate mental attitude is at least as important as any piece of tech you happen to have.

@ Corin. Interesting what you say about camping, here is an old poem that makes reference to camping technology (somewhat derisively) written I think interwar. http://fay.iniminimo.com/college/bunyip.htm For your interest in the period after WWII, (everybody was camping after WWI during the depression, just not enjoying it) MW Plate wrote a camping book around 1960-1970 I forget the name, but it was by periwinkle press, grey cover. In it there were many things you would now call bushcraft, making things from wire, getting water from tree roots, witchuti grubs etc. A good read if you can track down a copy.
Dusty Miller has hit this on the head I believe the two phrases he used are spot on. His earlier post as well is very appropiate too. The mental attitude of these people the "bushies"was the determining factor in Australias early remote living. I have mentioned these books before http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?95-Ron-Edwards shows the resourcefulness of these people and altough not truely Australian attitude I do believe these bushies took recyclying to a totally new level for long term living. I suppose that is what makes the Aussie bushie or bushcarfter truely unique.
 

auscraft

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Australian bushcraft [by] M. W. Plate

[Melbourne, Lansdowne Press, 1971
also this same book different publisher
Australian bushcraft / M.W. Plate

Dee Why West, N.S.W. : Periwinkle Books, 1976

Dusty was this the book you refered too?
 
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