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Skills on Sunday: Bow-Drill Fire

  • CERES Environmental Park Cnr Stewart St and Roberts St, Brunswick (map)

The year I spent ‘without matches,’ I made a firm commitment to only light fires by rubbing sticks together. My goal was to use hand-drill, the fire-by-friction technique used by indigenous peoples of Australia. Eventually I did achieve this, but it took months to produce my first coal, and in the rain, it was almost impossible. Life would have been pretty cold and miserable had it not been for bow-drill, the fire technique that I used daily as my ‘back-up’.

Copyright: Australian Geographic

Copyright: Australian Geographic

Bow-drill has been a sacred fire-lighting technique for traditional peoples in many cultures, particularly North America and Africa. 

It’s more complicated than hand-drill in that there are more pieces to think about, including a string to move the bow. The upside is that it doesn’t require nearly the brute strength of hand-drill, and it’s much easier to find suitable timbers at home to use. 

I absolutely LOVE making bow-drill fire, and yet have never offered a workshop. Now’s the time!

Together we will experiment and practice with the bow-drill technique (yes, it takes practice!), as well as the fundamentals of tee-pee fire construction and tinder bundles. After lunch you will sit down around the fire we created, and carve your own take-home kits. 

No prior experience needed. Please enquire about bringing kids over the age of 10. We will also offer a free practice session in a park in the new year for any workshop participants. Practice makes perfect! 

Facilitators: Claire Dunn and Ostii Ananda


from 80.00

Full Day: $90
Full Day Concession: $80
Full Day + a signed copy of My Year without Matches: $100
Full Day Concession + a signed copy of My Year without Matches: $110

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