Category Archives: Swag

Australian Kelly Kettle: The "Dingo Bush Kettle"

This is another variation on the Kelly Kettle (Volcano Kettle), STORM Kettle (Eydon Kettle) and Ghillie Kettle: used in Australian bush camping the “Dingo Bush Kettle” look fantastic – slightly different to our northern hemisphere variations, this one has no separate fire base meaning you light a small fire on the ground directly beneath it, perhaps surrounded by a few rocks to limit any spread – this perhaps points to our different climates – lighting a fire direct on the invariably wet ground in the west coast of Ireland where the Kelly Kettle hails from isn’t going to work very well! It does however come with instead a small “metho tray” for liquid fuel cooking.

It looks very nice and the vertical handle would work very well for lifting off the flames and pouring. As a result of this kind of handle rather than the overhead ones of the Kelly/Eydon Kettles using it as a water carrier is not an option. The pouring spout is a lot narrower too, which is great for pouring, but not so good for re-filling. The capacity is 1.2 litres, so just a bit more than the smallest kelly kettle and enough for just 2 cups really, by the time you’ve spilled a bit! But still a great piece of gear and by all accounts a very authentic piece of Australian bushcraft gear – perfect for use with Australian-style swag camping! (See our swag stories for more on this great way to Get Out & Stay Out). We’ll see if we can get one imported and test it out here in our wetter, windier climate!
dingo bush kettle 400pix

More info at http://www.bushkettle.com.au/ or Camping With Hill Billy.

For larger capacity, the Aussies have their “Eco Billy” kettle, more like a large Kelly Kettle, and also from that part of the world is the “Thermette” from New Zealand.

Autumn on the River Wye

At the first sign of it getting colder and the leaves turning we loaded up and headed for an overnight trip down the Wye to catch the early autumn mood – leaving enough time for a late Autumn trip to follow before winter hopefully…

The water level was very low over the rocks at English Bicknor: made for a challenge not to get stuck on the rocks, we just managed to follow the flow enough to get through with a sharp left and right turn thorough this stretch.

The water level was very low over the rocks at English Bicknor: made for a challenge not to get stuck on the rocks, we just managed to follow the flow enough to get through with a sharp left and right turn thorough this stretch.

'Hawkeye' Rich steering at the back - Good Work!

'Hawkeye' Rich steering at the back - Good Work!

 

Some cattle were drinking at the river bank...

Some cattle were drinking at the river bank...

 

 

 

The view back up the river...

The view back up the river...

This iconic Pastoral scene unfolded before us...

This iconic Pastoral scene unfolded before us...

a bit of a rumble through this stretch, because the river level was so low - normally you'd float right over this section with smooth water on the surface.

a bit of a rumble through this stretch, because the river level was so low - normally you'd float right over this section with smooth water on the surface.

 

A flat stretch as the evening began...

A flat stretch as the evening began...

 

Clear skies above... it was beginning to get a bit chilled, you could tell it was proper Autumn now, a real chill in the air.

Clear skies above... it was beginning to get a bit chilled, you could tell it was proper Autumn now, a real chill in the air.

Approaching Symonds Yat at Dusk...

Approaching Symonds Yat at Dusk...

Our chosen stop for the night's camp.

Our chosen stop for the night's camp.

Some firewood gathered along the way.

Some firewood gathered along the way.

Ahh a warm fire finally - it was a bit tricky to get this one going in truth... we were rushing as it was getting dark: you can never rush starting a fire: stop and start again slowly - it's quicker in the end!

Ahh a warm fire finally - it was a bit tricky to get this one going in truth... we were rushing as it was getting dark: you can never rush starting a fire: stop and start again slowly - it's quicker in the end!

Morning Camp. Just climbed out of the swag. Earlier, after I woke up I'd watched from inside the swag as a female Row deer picking her way along rocks on the opposite bank just 20 feet away, what a way to start the day!

Morning Camp. Just climbed out of the swag. Earlier, after I woke up I'd watched from inside the swag as a female Row deer picking her way along rocks on the opposite bank just 20 feet away, what a way to start the day!

At 2.30 am we'd woken to see a huge stag coming down to drink just about where this phot was taken - no more than 15 feet from our beds... He was spooked as Hawkeye woke me up to see it, and turned and headed back up to the top of the bank - treating us to an amazing perfect silhouette against the moonlight sky of this big stag with his large antlers, looking back at us... the highlight of the trip. If we hadn't stirred he'd have just come and had a drinkand wouldn't have known or cared we were there...

At 2.30 am we'd woken to see a huge stag coming down to drink just about where this phot was taken - no more than 15 feet from our beds... He was spooked as Hawkeye woke me up to see it, and turned and headed back up to the top of the bank - treating us to an amazing perfect silhouette against the moonlight sky of this big stag with his large antlers, looking back at us... the highlight of the trip. If we hadn't stirred he'd have just come and had a drinkand wouldn't have known or cared we were there...

Getting the fire started in the morning, from the pieces of last night campfire...

Getting the fire started in the morning, from the pieces of last night campfire...

It was going in no time..

It was going in no time..

Chilly morning so we needed the fire going and some hot tea brewing in the Kelly.

Chilly morning so we needed the fire going and some hot tea brewing in the Kelly.

 

Swag 'n Kelly Kettle scene...

Swag 'n Kelly Kettle scene...

The fire going....

The fire going....

 

 

With the swag you can sleep very close to the campfire to keep warm because it's made of think canvas - I needed nothing more than a light sleeping bag inside the swag: had a great night's sleep...

With the swag you can sleep very close to the campfire to keep warm because it's made of think canvas - I needed nothing more than a light sleeping bag inside the swag: had a great night's sleep...

 

 

Coffee...

Coffee...

And what a place to have it... beautiful morning, we could have been waking in Canada, it was so secluded...

And what a place to have it... beautiful morning, we could have been waking in Canada, it was so secluded...

 

'Hawkeye' enjoying his Kelly Tea.

'Hawkeye' enjoying his Kelly Tea.

 

At the Bank on Monday morning... The river bank that is ;-)

At the Bank on Monday morning... The river bank that is ;-)

 

Water level was incredibly low - I hadn't seem it this low since I first camped here 15 years ago, learning canoe craft and bushcrafting techniques with Dirk Stronnsun - you could almost wade across - we'd had a very dry late summer/autumn to this point.

Water level was incredibly low - I hadn't seem it this low since I first camped here 15 years ago, learning canoe craft and bushcrafting techniques with Dirk Stronnsun - you could almost wade across - we'd had a very dry late summer/autumn to this point.

 

 

Porridge cooking on the fire in a steel 'crusader' mug.

Porridge cooking on the fire in a steel 'crusader' mug.

Back on the water, Hawkeye looks back to check again that we left 'no trace' from our camp - this is essential, leave nothing...

Back on the water, Hawkeye looks back to check again that we left 'no trace' from our camp - this is essential, leave nothing...

 

 

 

The view back to Symonds Yat gorge...

The view back to Symonds Yat gorge...

 

Hawkeye spotted a female Sparrowhawk hunting along the river bank, right at the water's edge - we followed it a good 1/4 mile down the river as it hunted.

Hawkeye spotted a female Sparrowhawk hunting along the river bank, right at the water's edge - we followed it a good 1/4 mile down the river as it hunted.

 

 

We planned to stop for Kelly tea on this rock, but getting there there was no way up from the canoe onto the rock - it's bigger than it looks!

We planned to stop for Kelly tea on this rock, but getting there there was no way up from the canoe onto the rock - it's bigger than it looks!

We settled for a smaller rock and got the Kelly fired up again. Q: Can you have too much tea?

We settled for a smaller rock and got the Kelly fired up again. Q: Can you have too much tea?

 

 

 

Last few riffles on the route before the get-out...

Last few riffles on the route before the get-out...

 

And we're out, the canoe back on the car and off home - a great and eventful Autumn trip.

And we're out, the canoe back on the car and off home - a great and eventful Autumn trip.

Ray Mears' Swag Camp

You can catch Ray in his swag bedroll in the Australian desert: on DaveJaVue channel tonight at 7pm if you have Sky TV. Here’s a couple of images of his desert camp from the show:

For more on swag camping, see our main post about “swag” camping here: “Me Ol’ Swagaroo”

Ray waking up in the Desert in a traditional Australian 'Swag Bag'

Ray waking up in the Desert in a traditional Australian 'Swag Bag'

A beautiful desert camp spot for Ray Mears

A beautiful desert camp spot for Ray Mears

Ray packing the Swag back in the 4 x 4.

Ray packing the Swag back in the 4 x 4.

We love swag-camping – if you want to get yourself a swag see our post on “Where to Buy a Swag in the UK” and also see our “Duluth Bedroll” post for a Canadian ‘swag’ option!

For more Ray Mears swag camping see this clip from his DVD from YouTube, showing 4×4 swag camping in places with a lot of biting insects, so a fully enclosed mozzie net features heavily in the swag he uses here – You’ll need to view full screen because there’s an awful lot of split-screen editing gone on in this one!

River Wye – Get Out and Stay Out!

A Late Summer trip on the River Wye – just a 24 hour ‘get Out & Stay Out” trip, but a great one – highlights included a 2 foot Pike jumping out of the water within about a foot of the canoe – teeth bared!

Minimal gear this time - swag and 2 bags ready on the tailgate.

Minimal gear this time - swag and 2 bags ready on the tailgate.

Arrived at the put-in point at Kerne Bridge.

Arrived at the put-in point at Kerne Bridge.

 

"Hawkeye" Rich - describing all the the wildlife he's seeing up front

"Hawkeye" Rich - describing all the the wildlife he's seeing up front

"Campfire Kev" steering in the back.

"Campfire Kev" steering in the back.

 

 

 

 

Gathering firewood at dusk

Gathering firewood at dusk

LOTS of firewood...

LOTS of firewood...

Morning at the Camp, Symonds Yat Canyon

Morning at the Camp, Symonds Yat Canyon

 

 

Using the half-burnt logs from the previous nights fire to get it going again - a spark from a firesteel and a bit of blowing till it glows, then drop on some dry grass and it's away...

Using the half-burnt logs from the previous nights fire to get it going again - a spark from a firesteel and a bit of blowing till it glows, then drop on some dry grass and it's away...

Getting the fire going again... Rain in the air...

Getting the fire going again... Rain in the air...

 

And here's the rain....

And here's the rain....

"do you think it'll last?" "it's just a shower, let's wait it out..."

"do you think it'll last?" "it's just a shower, let's wait it out..."

Really Big Rain kicked in about 9am... we waited for the Kelly to boil from under the shelter...

Really Big Rain kicked in about 9am... we waited for the Kelly to boil from under the shelter...

 

Hot Coffee... out of the rain... no problem...

Hot Coffee... out of the rain... no problem...

 

 

 

 

Caption Not Required...

Caption Not Required...

 

 

Still Raining... more coffee on...

Still Raining... more coffee on...

The Shelter rigged to the canoe, propped with a paddle, simple and effective: only needed a single peg into the bank to stay up as the canoe provides the support.

The Shelter rigged to the canoe, propped with a paddle, simple and effective: only needed a single peg into the bank to stay up as the canoe provides the support.

The Crusader mug in use....

The Crusader mug in use....

"hmmm, this rain is lasting for a while, lets have some breakfast..."

"hmmm, this rain is lasting for a while, lets have some breakfast..."

A cup of Oats...

A cup of Oats...

Porridge cooking in the Crusader mug... straight on the fire.

Porridge cooking in the Crusader mug... straight on the fire.

 

 

We were a bit short of water so collected water running off teh shelter to top up - a litre gathered within about 10 minutes.

We were a bit short of water so collected water running off teh shelter to top up - a litre gathered within about 10 minutes.

We'll move when the rain stops....

We'll move when the rain stops....

It didn't stop so we got back on the river....

It didn't stop so we got back on the river....

Stopped under an old iron pontoon bridge, 'WWII style' and got the Kelly fired up again, wet-through, we needed more hot tea....

Stopped under an old iron pontoon bridge, 'WWII style' and got the Kelly fired up again, wet-through, we needed more hot tea....

Getting the Kelly Going....

Getting the Kelly Going....

approaching the get-out point at Symonds Yat West

approaching the get-out point at Symonds Yat West

Thoroughly soaked, but completely invigorated.

Thoroughly soaked, but completely invigorated.

Loaded up, the end of a great trip on the Wye.

Loaded up, the end of a great trip on the Wye.

 

Let's Go.

Let's Go.

 

Back over the Severn Bridge towards Bristol, the rain finally did stop!

Back over the Severn Bridge towards Bristol, the rain finally did stop!

Military Swags – US Forces Bivvy

This is a kind of soldiers’ swag bag: the “Crysalis sleep system” – a US miltary issue bivvy bag made from a goretex-like material. It features a mozzie net built in a wire hoops to raise the cover up. OK it’s expensive at $300 USD but if the taxpayers are footing the bill while you keep them safe from attack then it’s no problem: you deserve to a) be camouflaged b) be safe from attack from any enemies while you rest and c) be comfortable in bad weather when those same tax payers are sitting at home in 3 season feather down duvets surrounded by fluffed up pillows and eating pizza.

more info see: US Elite Forces Gear.com

chrysliasbag

See also: Duluth Bedroll and Me ‘Ol Swaggaroo – the Australian Swag Bag.

duluthbedroll

Where to Buy An Australian Swag in the UK?

[Update: the new Wynnchester Australian Swags are now available to buy online from www.australianswags.co.uk – see latest post.

It’s surprisingly hard to get hold of a real swag in the UK. I inherited my Razorback swag from my wife’s family when we were living Down Under several years ago: that’s the brown one below and shown in our main post about swag-camping here (and you’ll see it pop up all across this site as it’s been my main outdoor accommodation for ages now – I haven’t used a tent for 7 years…).

There’s a lot of swags available on Ebay, in Australia see here http://shop.ebay.co.uk/i.html?LH_AvailTo=3&_nkw=swag+canvas – worth a look but the postage is pretty heavyweight – but great for looking at the real Aussie swags that are available over there: lots of different shapes and sizes.

Update: Another company based in Devon also sells Australian style swags – they are made in the UK unlike the imported ones above, but are based faithfully on the original Australian designs – see http://www.wruffit.co.uk/ for details:

[Edit: Seems that Wruffit are no longer trading… website has been down for a long time and no answer on their phone number – so one less place to buy a swag now!]

An authentic Australian Swag for sale in the UK by www.wruffit.co.uk

An authentic Australian Swag for sale in the UK by www.wruffit.co.uk

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Me Ol’ Swaggaroo… the Australian ‘Swag Bag’

[Update: the new Wynnchester Australian-style Bedroll Swags are now available to buy online from www.wynnchester.co.uk – see latest post. Designed and tested by Wynnchester and exclusively made in the UK by a high quality bespoke tent manufacturer.

Australian Swag bags are quite unique to Down Under – a thick canvas ‘bivvi’ with waterproof floor which rolls up as a bedroll to go in the back of the ‘Ute’ (Aussie pick-up truck) or in a canoe for river trips – too heavy for hiking long distance they can also be used horse riding and there’s some lighter versions suitable for bikers.

From Wikipedia: “In Australian historical terms, a swag is a waterproof bedroll … In the 1800’s and first half of the 20th century a swag-man was an itinerant rural worker – usually but not always sheep shearers – who carried their bedroll ‘swag’ with their belongings wrapped in them on their back.

Before motor transport was common, foot travel over long distances was essential to workers who were travelling in the Australian bush and who could not afford a horse. Itinerant workers who travelled from farm to farm sheep shearing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were called “swagmen” because they carried all their possessions in a swag. This image was immortalised in Australian culture by the song Waltzing Matilda.”

See our full post on the “History & Romance of the Australian Swag“.

Some come with various additions like mesh screens to keep out bugs, simple poles or hoops to help shed water, or small porches to keep your boots dry. Some are made to be set up in the back of the Ute itself, or on a trailer or 4×4 roof top.

The beauty of them is the simple roll-and-go nature – stop where you want, unroll it and you’re ready for the night – sleeping bags or blankets can stay rolled up inside during the day: they aren’t small when packed up though, but there’s nothing better for a night under the stars.

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

The Swag rolled up in the canoe – ready to travel:

A modern Australian swag:

The swag rolled up in the back of the Landrover for overland and off-road camping trips:

landy-swag

And then simply unrolled for sleeping directly in the back of the Landrover:

landy-swag-unrolled

See also Ray Mears’s swag camp in the Australian desert on TV.
ray-mears-swag-500x375