Vol. 20, October 2009

Peter Hawkey is congratulated by club president - Ian Convey.  Photo by Jim Walker
Peter Hawkey is congratulated by club president – Ian Convey. Photo by Jim Walker

It was double success for Peter Hawkey visiting us at Beaver Creek this September for the first time. Peter is seen above receiving the president’s cup for winning the simulated Mike Fink challenge. He also won a cast iron Dutch oven filled with fresh vegetables for best results in the simulated Mountain Man hunt. Each contestant paid entry dues by placing one or more vegies in the pot for a winner-takes-all event. Peter had previously trekked in, carrying his shelter and all provisions for a one night camp.

Our week long rendezvous was blessed with all four seasons to test the most intrepid of Buckskinners. Early arrivals set up camp in warm Spring sunshine, almost summery conditions which remained through to Monday evening. A violent change brought Victoria the wettest September for years, borne on spectacular thunderstorms, followed by an icy hailstorm on the final Saturday. Beaver Creek did truly shine to that thin layer of hailstones!

No one is complaining about that rainfall which is much needed throughout the State. In fact, a big plus during inclement weather is that Skinners tend to congregate around the larger campfires or under the warmest shelter where communication is well oiled with some shared refreshment. Any Port in a storm…. or Muscat, or a smooth malt whiskey if you prefer.

Attendance was down to a hardy twenty, as illness, recuperation and family matters reduced anticipated presence by half. Nevertheless, a quick survey of participants indicated unanimous declaration of a great camp and continued support for primitive. It’s amazing how the harsher climatic conditions bring us all together and then remain fond memories for discussion in years to follow.

Glen and Anthea arrived early to set up camp in a brand new Bojo built tent; Glen had spent long hours making many camp comforts for trial within the canvas walls. Nice work Glen! Bob Ellis’ covered wagon must have got bogged in his driveway for Bob and Lyne set up camp in their large 22 foot tipi, a welcome attraction we had not seen in camp since our first Winter Quarters at Andrew’s old farm. A very warm welcome is extended to Anthea and Lyne who both camped over with us all for the first time.

Group photo by JimWinners All.

Attending by regular invitation were Gary and Jenny Baker, Don McLean and Mappo all now from the newly formed Frontiers Group. Gary and Don had to leave early for Monday work, while Mappo stayed on a couple of extra days and Jenny waited for Gary to return the following weekend; when poor Gary had to walk-in quite a distance due to a fallen tree blocking the laneway to Beaver Creek.

Couples, Kevin and Robyn Norris and Colin and Myrtle Barrett found time to visit even though other circumstance prevented their camping over with us. Regular visitors Dick and Susan Schwer spent the day with us while Peter Hawkey set up a minimalist camp for a single night after winning a full week’s supply of vegetables.

Jeff and Katherine with 10 month old baby Elizabeth Jennifer visited and stayed long enough to attend our AGM but unfortunately couldn’t linger. Justin and Louise arrived with their tipi just as Bob and Lyne were leaving for a work day week. The opportunity to move into Bob’s already erected tipi was quickly accepted. The attraction and warmth of an internal fireplace made the big lodge a popular gathering spot for all those staying through the week.

Jim was another early arrival, then unfortunately had to keep an appointment in Melbourne early in the week but wasted no time returning to camp the second half. Murray and Ian broke camp on Tuesday, while Mappo, Justin and Lou set off on Wednesday after the first days of lovely showers. The more testing weather was yet to come!

Then, making a long weekend of the final days, John Morland, Ronny Davis and our newest member Tom Jefferies all arrived Wednesday and found time between the almost daily showers to shoot and also do a bit of hunting. Not even a rabbit was sighted but a walk with Old Smoke Pole is always stimulating.

Our hosts, Rolly and Jo paid us several visits and son Ben camped a night or two in Justin’s old wall tent. Needs a coat of waterproofing, don’t it, Ben? Special thanks to the Matheson’s for the continuing welcome to camp on their property. It has been rumoured that Jo hopes to find time over the summer to sew up some pre 1840’s garments for Rolly and herself. Getting Rolly into the funny clothes is another matter!

A sudden drop in temperature on the final Saturday accompanied by a sharp thunder and hailstorm proved invigorating. Sadly, all good camps come to an end all too soon!

Another Winner

Jenny Baker of the Frontier Living History Group won a cast iron Camp oven for best lady shooter in the Mike Fink challenge. Actually, Jenny achieved second place overall to Peter Hawkey after a shoot-off in this event. But get this – Jenny had not fired a single shot, rifle or musket, since our camp in September 2008. That’s a damn fine performance after 12 mths lay-off. Nice shooting and congratulations to Jenny!

President’s Perseverance Award

This is not an annual award, however, this year, after consultation with the Committee; Ian felt that the Club should follow the lead of other organisations supporting bushfire relief programs. Members would be aware that one of our own lost their home, guns, accoutrements and chattels, in fact everything, in the February “Black Saturday” fires.

We are delighted to be able to present John Morland with a 12 month subscription gift certificate for Muzzleloader magazine, as a modest start to rebuilding a library of entertaining literature. Enjoy the reading, John. The Club acknowledges the generosity of the publishers of Muzzleloader magazine for making this award possible.

Medicine Water

In 1824 James Beckwourth left this general description of the mountain man’s summer rendezvous.

It may well be supposed that the arrival of such a vast amount of luxuries from the East did not pass off without a general celebration. Mirth, song, dancing, shooting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sort of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent were freely indulged in. The unpacking of the medicine water contributed not a little to the heightening of our festivities.”

There was mirth without dancing, running or jumping (except over a few puddles) at Beaver Creek, but most days we could hear Jenny softly plucking some beautiful tunes on her handcrafted mountain dulcimer. Medicine for the soul! Then on a couple of occasions we were further delighted when Jenny regaled us with a song a cappella.

Sweet music - Medicine for the soul. Photo by Ian Convey
Sweet music – Medicine for the soul. Photo by Ian Convey

Raffles and Auction

Our low attendance meant ticket sellers were hard to find, so the raffles have been held over. The wrought iron poker with ram’s head knob and the voyager cap with silver Celtic clasp are most desirable prizes, now we have also received a beautiful hand made drop sleeve shirt in a traditional floral print.

With fewer numbers we lacked any bidding rivalry of last year during our fun auction. This was a trifle disappointing as the Club exists on our generous support of raffles and auctions. A couple of nice items saved the day so all in all we netted about $100.


After days of wearing sopping wet moccasins, someone was caught-out early morning slipping across to the out-tent wearing those damned elastic-sided mocs. Doh! Well chooks don’t have web feet!

It's only hail - photo by Jim
It’s only hail – no reason to abandon a good fire. Photo by Jim

Mountain Man Hunt

Our simulated hunt course was orchestrated by Glen Mitchell and Bob Ellis. They had so much fun doing so that they have requested to run another impromptu challenge next year. There were 15 possible scoring stations, four involving beaver traps, six small game animals for the taking, one hostile, and one thanksgiving turkey. Time taken would separate any otherwise level scores. Peter, although a clear winner was not the quickest, but then the slowest mountain man timed was a close runner-up on points. Now there’s a hint for ya – Hunt slow, look sure – Aim small, hit more!


Clive and Veronica Brown share this lyrical dissertation on justice done in the past. I’ll admit its eloquence tickles my humour also, but I do stress we’ve no ill-feelings toward sheep-herders, so – if you think Judges these days are getting soft when sentencing prisoners, you’d be right if the following is taken as the criterion:-

This is claimed to be a verbatim transcript of a sentence imposed by a Judge in a federal district court in New Mexico, U.S.A. in 1881.

“Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows of winter will flee away, the ice will vanish and the air will become soft and balmy. In short, the annual miracle of the years will awaken and come to pass, but you won’t be there.

The rivulet will run its soaring course to the sea, the timid desert flowers will put forth their tender shoots, and the glorious valley of this imperial domain will blossom as the rose. Still, you won’t be there to see.

From every treetop some wild woods songster will carol his mating song, butterflies will sport in the sunshine, and the busy bee will hum happily as it pursues its accustomed vocation; the gentle breeze will tease the tassels of the wild grasses and all nature, Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, will be glad but you.

You won’t be here to enjoy it because I command the Sheriff, or some officers of the country, to lead you to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from a knotting bough of some sturdy oak and let you hang until you are dead.

After then, Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, I further command that such officers retire quickly from your dangling corpse; that vultures may descend from the heavens upon your filthy body, until nothing shall remain but the bare, bleached bones of a cold-blooded, copper-coloured, blood-thirsty, throat-cutting, chilli-eating, sheep-herding, murdering son-of-a-bitch.”

And in case anyone wishes to burn a candle for Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, Jim Walker forwards this make-it-yourself recipe he discovered in an old 1933 diary.

To Make Tallow Candles
For every 2½ lbs of clean mutton tallow use ½ lb alum and ¼ lb beeswax. Dissolve the alum in a little warm water. Then put in the tallow and beeswax. Put in a large pot on the fire and stir well together and then run into candle mould. Soak the wicks in methylated spirit overnight. To make them burn evenly brush them over with varnish.

Candle Safety – Standard 10” candles should be cut in half before using in lanterns. Wood framed lanterns can be severely damaged by the flame from too tall a candle.

Annual General Meeting 19th Sept.

Our AGM was held at camp during the Saturday afternoon. The minutes have been circulated to members via post. There was one change to the Committee as Kevin Norris had requested to be relieved of duties – Paul Sly was elected to fill the vacancy.

Club Committee 2009 – 2010

President – Ian Convey, tel. 03 5367 8450
Vice President – Bob Ellis, tel. 03 5796 2753
Secretary – John Fowler, tel. 03 5753 4455, Email chookster@vfowler.com
Treasurer – Murray Convey, tel. 03 5346 1086
Committee – Paul Sly, tel. 03 5435 3557
Committee (Safety Officer) – Jim Walker, tel. 03 9723 5868

Dick Schwer & Peter Hawkey trek out - photo by Jim
Dick Schwer and Peter Hawkey bid farewell to the Beaver Creek camp. Photo by Jim

Tree of a Kind!

What to do with a huge slab of Murray willow, thought Ian? Oh, I know! I’ll pick on Chook’s fancy Remington with the fake barrel pins until he gets so cheesed off that he begs me to restock it for him. Worked didn’t it? That slab was milled down into three nice stock blanks. So pleased with the refurbished Remington was Ian that he had to use a second blank to make a nice half stock 54 cal for himself. Then there were two!

After the February bushfires, Ian heard of the disaster to the guns stored in John’s safe. Nothing left but burnt barrels and ashes. Could he make a phoenix gun – turn that third blank into a nice rifle for John, restoring it with the original lock and furniture where possible? The lock was sent to Allan Vaisham of Green River Rifle Works in South Australia, for restoration, retuning, and with a rehardened frizzen. On its return Ian inlet the lock, hand made a patch-box and side-plate, fitted the restored furniture to that third chunk from the tree, completing yet another very nice workmanlike rifle.

Sounds simple, when condensed to a few words, but I’m sure it took many hours of skilled effort to convert that slab of tree into a three of a kind, coming up with 3 Aces!

Three of a kind - photo by Ian convey
Three of a kind. Photo by Ian


Melbourne Medieval Fayre and Tourney (MMFAT) Nov. 7th & 8th. 9am- 4pm. A popular annual event for re-enactors at the Old Cheese Factory, Berwick. We will be attending, dressing in period costume and presenting a static display, supported by Bob Ellis’ wagon and tents. All members are encouraged to come along either one or both days and to dress as your persona for our own camps. Melway Ref. Map 131 A 2.