I NEVER REST IN recommending Alexander Langlands’ Craeft to people. It’s a book on traditional and pre-automation craft and maintenance, but also about how doing such activity, or not doing it, has a cognitive effect on how we interact with our physical world of objects and environment. Yes, it’s very middle-aged British man, but as one friend to whom I recommended put it, it’s easy to be spiritually a middle-aged British man, prepared to talk at length about tools, and bee keeping, and lime burning, and roof construction, and many other things. Counter to the last post on historical recreationism and its discontents, such people are entirely and convincingly sincere, in a way that I find compelling and almost physically appealing. I am therefore delighted to find (thanks to this thread) that there is a small but burgeoning corner of the Australian rural marketplace which is all about scything and scythes; the manual tool you know about from its association with Death, but which does the same job as a petrol brush cutter, snipper, or push mower, but quietly. Consider the answer—undeniable—from one site’s FAQ, to the question ‘why buy a scythe’:

People might think you're odd, but you'll own a scythe.


Old Sydney Town

IN 1975, A THEME park called Old Sydney Town outside Gosford in NSW was opened in the spirit of authenticity, recreationism, and heritage, and drew heavily on the example of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia in the United States, in the sense that it was to be a living museum. Its organisers drew on academic expertise to get the very most knowledge, and to mimic as closely as possible the evolution of immediately post-contact Sydney. Professors of history were consulted and appointed, professional conservationists involved for their built environment expertise, antiquarians set to providing antiques, and traditionalist tradesmen hired as masons, carpenters, thatchers, limeburners, wood turners, plasterers, blacksmiths, potters, leatherworkers, ad infinitum. Soldier-reenactors were fitted for shakos, crossbelts and red jackets, gunsmiths supplied replica Brown Besses.

It goes without saying that there was no Aboriginal presence at Old Sydney Town.




IT IS DECEMBER, SO Australians cannot escape bushfires, workplace lethargy, and Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy. Even for a nation of authoritarians and cop lovers, it’s notable how many of the country’s most beloved cultural touchstones involve someone going to jail, or refusing to. If Banjo Paterson’s swagman had actually got to cook and eat the sheep he stole, I like to think he’d have roasted it and retained the fats somehow.



I HAVE BEEN INFORMED that this blog is now officially archived by the National Library of Australia and is accessible in trove.

I am both honoured, and ashamed of this, my own personal crime against the national heritage.


Lavarch Report

THE NEW SOUTH WALES Labor Party has released its review document, the Lavarch Report, which recommends some superficial administrative changes to the workings of Head Office in response to decades of carpetbagging behaviour and unprincipled, shameless, grifting on the part of the NSW Right.


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