Ironfest 2017

Yes, I probably should have gone on a March for Science on Saturday but I didn’t. Instead, I headed westwards to the Australian town of Lithgow.

Sydney, as a city, is quite famous but beyond Sydney, the smaller towns tend to be largely unknown. Partly this is due to the weird geography – Sydney itself is hemmed in on nearly all sides by major obstacles, so it sprawls in an unusual way (unlike, say Melbourne which sprawls more sensibly – it being an inherently more sensible city).

Westwards, Sydney’s natural limit is the Blue Mountains (‘is’ rather than ‘are’ I think). Not mountains even by relaxed English standards, the Blue Mountains is more of a heavily eroded plateau. However, steep escarpments, labyrinthine gulleys and thick bush meant that early British settlers found them a major barrier to westward expansion. Until helpful Aboriginal people explained the correct way to get across was to go over the top of them, following the ridge lines, they were an impassable barrier. The many hidden gulleys still contain secrets from remains of temperate rain forest to living things from the age of the dinosaurs.

Beyond the Blue Mountains there are still further hills of the Great Dividing range and amid those hills is the former industrial town of Lithgow. With a history of coal mining and metal work, its location meant it was also perfect for munitions production for the Australian armed forces.

In 2000 people in Lithgow decided to hold a bit of festival to celebrate Australia’s metal working industry. Nice idea. That festival grew and included aspects of Lithgow’s firearms and munitions history. That in turn, brought in people interested in military historical re-enactment. That in turn, brought in people interested in more general historical re-enactment including middle-ages type stuff. That (and the whole industrial vibe) brought in people really into Steampunk. And with people interested in building working models of R2D2 also turning up and the whole ambience of creative anachronism that arose from a big field full of Vikings watching Turkish dancers next to WW2 tanks, made everything look like the set of 1980’s episode of Doctor Who…so naturally Ironfest just embraced what it was becoming and had a Doctor Who theme a few years back.

Lots of photos below the fold…

The theme this year was the Lost World hence a dinosaur:


And a steam engine.


And a working steampunk velocipede


And two furry dragons jostling for supremacy


And K9 next to Captain America’s feet


And a Napoleonic era battle


And then a WW2 battle, which started with Vietnam War era Australian soldiers attacking a WW2 era German camp, which was then attacked by small tanks, which then got invaded by knights and vikings who got blown up by the tanks.



Followed by jousting


And these guys


And this couple


ahhhh 🙂


4 thoughts on “Ironfest 2017

  1. That looks really fun, glad you had a good time and nice weather, (and, presumably, some theme-y beer)! I’ve never been to Australia or NZ, but am contemplating a madcap adventure to Mongolia next year. I’m in the mood for opening new horizons and have always wanted to go there. One of the transcendent moments of my life linked the Rijksmuseum, Mongolian throat-singing, and a Palestinian movie.

    So, Happy Earth day, which is also my birthday. It’s been fun reading and learning from you and your smart, witty, hilarious commenting community here. Thank you CF, Timothy, et. al !

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