Bushcraft is a long-term extension of survival skills. A popular term for wilderness skills in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the term was popularised in the northern hemisphere by Mors Kochanski and recently gained considerable currency in the United Kingdom due to the popularity of Ray Mears and his bushcraft and survival television programmes.
Bushcraft is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include; firecraft, tracking, hunting, shelter building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, rope and twine-making, and many others.
Origin of the Term
Before the recent popularity of Ray Mears and his programmes, the term was also used by the Irish-born Australian writer Richard Graves and Canadian bushcraft teacher Mors Kochanski. The word has been used in its current sense in Australia at least as far back as the 1800s. The accompanying term Bushman (in the sense of someone adept in bushcraft) has been used in South Africa and Australia since a similar time. It is more common to hear the term bushcrafter to describe someone interested in bushcraft.
The term was used in the following books (amongst others):
- The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888 by Ernest Favenc; published in 1888.
- My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin; published in 1901.
- Campaign Pictures of the War in South Africa (1899-1900) by A. G. Hales; published in 1901.
- The Explorers of Australia and their Life-work by Ernest Favenc; published in 1908.
- We of the Never-Never by Jeannie Gunn; published in 1908.
- The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders by Ernest Scott; published in 1914.