The Aborigine's Prehistoric Match

Most people don't realize that the Australian Aborigines were made up of many different tribes living in vastly different climates and conditions. Each area had its own demands for survival. Each group adapted to its environment whether it be the desert, the rainforest, or the coast from the hot and humid tropical north of Australia to the much cooler temperate south.

Aborigine's Prehistoric MatchSince the tribes tended to stay in their own geographical areas, they developed many local variations in their diet, language and culture but at the same time retained many overall similarities. Tourists visiting Aborigine cultural centers in different parts of Australia would be presented with somewhat different customs. Even the types of animals hunted and plants eaten would vary from tribe to tribe.

At the cultural center I visited, the Aborigines were descended from the Northeast rainforest tribes where giant snakes and salt water crocodiles are common. It is a hot, wet place where daily rains and one or more typhoons occur each year. Fire starting is a real challenge here. These Aborigines overcame this problem by carrying a waterproof fire making kit with them.

The kit or "fire stick" was quite simple and consisted of two sticks(a large one 2 inches in diameter X 3 feet long with several crosscut grooves and a smaller pointed stick 1/2 inch in diameter X 2 feet long), some dry tender, and a small waterproof cover to keep the tender dry. When not in use, the two sticks were laid parallel together. A softball sized water proof cover, coated with a waterproof wax or resin, was filled with dry tender and then slid tightly over the end of the two sticks. This had to be a tight waterproof fit to keep the tender dry and it also held the two sticks tightly together for carrying. It had the appearance of a large 3 foot long safety match.

When a fire was needed, the waterproof cover was pulled off and some tender removed. The tender was then placed on a dry spot on the ground. The large 2 inch diameter stick was placed on top of the tender with one of the precut grooves lining up with the center of the tender. The groove was held at an angle to the tender. The smaller pointed stick was then placed with the point at the upper end of the groove. Although one person could use this kit, in the demonstration which I watched, three Aborigines worked together.

Page 2

Return To Deer Hunting Articles