Vol. 6, August 2007

2007 08 picture 1Kevin (Blind Fox) Norris on target at Winter Rendezvous.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Sundbloom

Relive a glorious past – Experience the revelry of the heydays of Rondivoo – Dress the part – Camp the era – Cook on open campfires – Shoot with flint on steel using powder and round ball – Smell like black powder – Re-acquaint with old friends – Leave all the drudgery of the 21st century behind for just one week – Come to Spring Rendezvous!

Rendezvous, September 22nd – September 30th. A re-enactment of the 1830’s era.

First week of Vic. School holidays, a full week and including both weekends (or just do the weekends) at the Rolly Plains – Whorouly – Just 34 kms south of Glenrowan, or 16 kms north of the Myrtleford shops. (see Vic Roads Map 49, B2 for general area. Detailed directions supplied to those registering attendance – contact the secretary).

Main events are planned for the latter part of the week, being from Thurs 27th Sept through to Monday 1st October, however those wanting a full 10 days may arrive on Saturday 22nd Sept and help setting up long drops, cut and gather firewood etc. Each camp should fetch 20 litres of drinking water. There will be ample clean fresh water for washing or boiling available on site. And plenty shining times for everyone!

Beer n Beaver Waltz

Twas a Rocky Mountain Trapper of whom I’ve been told,
Who died, it is said, on account of the cold,
As he lay on his death bed and wrestled with fate,
He called on his children, to share his estate.

Let Jeff have my skinning knife and the pet Grizzly bear,
The hound dog with fleas can be Katherine’s share.
Let Murray have the Racoon that comes when he’s called,
And John, the eagle, although he’s gone bald.

To Justin I’m leaving a tipi made from real buffler skin,
Louise can keep the rabbit-fur blanket – fret not where its bin;
Let Kevin have the red fox, and the tame water-rat,
They’re all blind with old age and it’s sad about that.

There’s two pair of dry moccasins I leave to Colin,
For Myrtle, the Dutch oven, and three cups made of tin,
Give Chris my tobacco and the peace pipe as well,
And let Jim have the hatchet, and the scalps it did fell.

Let Paul have my traps with double springs that do fold,
Give Lisa the good books, both the new and the old;
My sewing kit to Robyn I leave with needles and waxed thread,
And a half-pint of southern whiskey stashed under the bed.

Give Richard the mule and pack saddle, and the harness too
They should all be retired, being long past brand new;
For Lorraine – there’s nothing left, but a tattered silk purse,
It might hold some silver, if the seams haven’t burst.

Let Bob have my firelock, my old fifty cal Hawkin,
Although his crook knee won’t allow for much stalking,
It’ll shoot dead straight, the ball, true and far,
And it’s powerful enough to kill the meanest of bar.

To Ian I leave a bullet pouch with my scratched powder horn,
The scrimshaw tells a history of our nation new born;
There’s fish in the river, and wild fowl on the lake,
Such as are the scenes on each horn he does scrape.

Farewell, my dear children, no more can I leave,
Don’t quarrel, or else my poor spirit will grieve;
And if you should marry, and ever children be born,
Remember, I reared you on beer, beaver and corn.

(Adapted & extended from a Traditional – Iron Rooster)

Note – There are as many beaver as stars in the sky – all hollering “Take me, Take me”

2007 08 picture 2
Prickle, Ian and Murray waiting for the kettle to boil. Winter Rendezvous 2007. Photo by Kevin.

Attending Rendezvous

It needs to be stated again, that our Free Trappers rondivoo happenings are not actually “open” events. To attend you must be a member of the SCFT Inc or an Invited Guest. To join the SCFT contact the Secretary or other Committee member (see listing in this newsletter). Invited Guests are those individuals or groups who have received SCFT Committee official invitation. Camp location directions are supplied only to those people registering for attendance. We take pains to re-enact a particular period of early American hunters, trappers and woodsmen, and their lifestyle, hence, we do not encourage visits from uninvited non-conformists.

As previously, our invitations to Rendezvous on private properties are not to be construed in any way as an open invite to re-visit these properties at any other times.
(Note also – We choose our event dates to align with the Victorian school holidays, therefore we cannot help it if these dates clash with other activities, either on any individual’s calendar of events or with other clubs programs.)


A great man once said: “The only requirement for evil to be done is for good men to remain silent.” Justin has fashioned a traditional style “talking” stick for use at our meetings, to ensure that each may have their equal opportunity to speak and be heard.

Now Seriously!

Just how earnest are we over this “authentic” business? Several among us have expressed concerns that getting too serious about our portrayal of chosen persona means mortgaging one’s soul. And I have heard “Well, I am not forking out 300 bucks for eyewear that may only be used several times a year!” and “What about footwear? A pair of Carl Dyer’s moccasins cost as much as a week’s rent!”

Whoa, there Dobbin! We are getting the cart before the horse again. How serious we get depends entirely on the individual. What the club suggests is that we all try to improve our portrayal just a little, from one event to the next. Some of the easiest and cheapest ways is to manufacture your own gear. Other cost savers may be purchased at local Opportunity shops. Example, a pair of good, but second hand, shoes of close style, or that might easily be altered to the period style may cost less than five dollars. Other Op shop bargains to watch for are wooden bowls & black iron frypans and etc.

Now prescription eyewear is a different matter, and it is never cheap. However, really passionate re-enactors will organise period style frames ready for their next prescription change, and then happily use these for everyday wear. Eyewear fashions can change so rapidly that hardly anyone bothers to compliment your style anyway.

Yes, we are playing a serious game; adults simply cannot throw a Whitney blanket over the sofa and call it a western plains tipi. Youthful imagination has been replaced by the same responsibility that insists we watch our dollars. The best way to save is to look, ask and learn at every Rendezvous. We often buy stuff without proper research to confirm that it is truly appropriate for our era. Hands up who started off with army disposal items vintage WW2. We have all done something similar, I’m sure.

Few, are the affluent, who can buy the complete re-enactment package before their first Rendezvous. We are not asking beginners to forego meals for weeks on end just to meet the high cost of another’s expectations. Remember this is a hobby after all. We do appreciate it when beginners make an effort to improve their portrayal with gradual understanding and learning and from camp to camp. Yes, seriously!

Trading Post

Bell-end Wedge Tent sold, another needed, or any other items for our Trading Post.

2007-2008 Subscriptions Now Due

The Annual Subscription remains at $20.00 per person (which includes the Public Liability insurance premium of $16). Most members have already paid but please note; we do not want a tax collector pushing a barrow at our rendezvous, nor do we have Bpay facilities. Please use the less modern facility of Australia Post and a 50 cent stamp and mail ASAP your cheque or money order direct to treasurer:- Myrtle Barrett, 342 Lawrence Street, Wodonga 3690.

Diary Notes

1697: Patriotic Scotsman, Andrew Fletcher, recorded “Arms are the only true badges of liberty. The possession of arms is the distinction of a free man from a slave.”

1837: Scottish nobleman Captain William Drummond Stewart hires the artist Alfred Jacob Miller to sketch and paint a record of camp life, both at, and on route to, the Free Trapper’s Rendezvous on the Green River.

2007: Justin Fletcher invites good friend Marek Felinski of Action Replay to capture on DVD the essence of the 1837 Rendezvous as re-enacted in the 21st century by the Southern Cross Free Trappers.

Around The Traps Tattler

Seen at Ballarat Arms Fair – Justin, trading all his plews on Harper’s Ferry stock.

Tattler did recount being caught out having the wrong variety of fresh apples on a trencher at a Napoleonic re-enact. And we acknowledge the remote possibility of dried fruits finding their way to Rendezvous; but fresh bananas – on display? Doh!

2007 08 picture 3
Buckskinner’s Shuffle, – a slightly different line-up of group featured in Vol. 5. Photo by Jim Walker.

1700’s Meal Times, East and West

Back east, meals were Spartan affairs. Most folks ate with fingers or wooden spoons as proper cutlery was scarce. The dining table was usually a rough plank of timber hewn from the forest and was called “the board”. Women and children sat on rough bench seats (if they sat at all) and the man, being head of the family, might sit at the only chair in the house. Hence “chair-man” and “chairman of the board” (head of the family table) and this is also where that other phrase “bed and board” originates.

Food would be ladled from the cook pot onto pewter plates or wooden trenchers. Beverages might be milk, cider or beer, and were usually shared from a common tankard passed around the board on request (children included – yes, beer too!)

Out west, things were even more primitive – trappers might sit around a blanket or tarp spread on the ground and using their skinning knife hack off chunks of buffalo hump roasting by the camp fire. Tin cups were the common drink vessels, and the only cutlery would be those skinner knives, and fingers seldom saw soap and water.

2007 08 picture 4
Write a “Caption” for each of these 2 pics Competition. Good prize! Send your entries to the Editor. Photos by Bob Ellis.

2007 08 picture 5
Write a “Caption” for each of these 2 pics Competition. Good prize! Send your entries to the Editor. Photos by Bob Ellis. Covered Wagon by Bojo Products. Contact Bob Ellis for all tentage. 03 5796 2753

Annual General Meeting

Notice of Meeting. The Southern Cross Free Trappers Inc will hold our 1st Annual General Meeting at 9.30am on Sunday 30th September ’07 at the Spring Rendezvous. Please forward any Agenda items to the Secretary prior to Wednesday 12th September.