My life fades, the vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Pike and Musket Society, the group we called Routiers. To understand who they are we have to go back to the other time. When the re-enactment was powered by polyester, and the desert sprouted groups with gal and velvet. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all.

1973-76 Ford Falcon yellow "Interceptor" (Mad Max) clones ...
Kick it in the guts, Harry.
That’s me in the the driving seat. I think we burnt nearly as much oil as petrol.

On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to travel to Melbourne, brutal enough to eat from highway cafes would survive to get to Monsalvat. The re-enactment clubs took over the highways, ready to wage war for history. Pierre, Sanders and Gross in the ISM Fairlane 302 with the Cleveland V8, Steve Roland and Greg House in the mighty House ute, the late Roley Dunkerley, Simon Fowler, Dave Rea and I in a run-down rent-a-wreck yellow XB Falcon Interceptor with a dodgy gearbox.

The House Ute in full woodwork machine moving rig.
The House Ute in full woodwork machine moving rig.

And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like House, the combat Wombat. In the roar of an RSL curry, he lost everything, and became a shell of a man. A burnt-out, desolate man. A man haunted by the demons of his bowels. A man who wandered out into the wasteland looking for a khazi. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to eat again. To understand who he was you must go back to the last days of the old world …

The ISM Fairlane
The ISM Fairlane

This is the remembering. The event at Monsalvat was held in 1984, fresh on the euphoria of the convention the previous October. The NVG were the hosts, I think the old Victorian Viking Society was there, and the Melbourne SCA, and from Sydney were the Macquarie Hackers and 1066.

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I can verify that Cardboard Chicken Man was there, wearing an ice cream bucket with an eponymous cardboard chicken crest. I can’t vouch for him being a member of the SCA, but that was the strong impression we were all left with. Entertainment was the lovely Heather singing the Scarborough Canticle, and Roy Castell reading a chapter from the Hobbit. The supplied booze was Steve Nic’s White Lightning, which accounts for the vision dimming. Food was a beast onna spit, the side dishes mostly seemed to come from the odd historical recipe (a 1965 copy of the Women’s Weekly Cookbook). There was more crushed velvet and spray painted knitted woollen “armour” than on the punters at a ‘Medieval Fayre’.

China Customized Plastic Ice Cream Bucket with Lid Manufacturers ...
Now comes with attractive chin strap!

Discussion turned to such abominations, and how we could do better, but it wasn’t until the trip home in Pierre’s car that plans were laid. For this reason, we only count those physically present in the ISM Fairlane as the founding members. The rest of us, they say, can only claim to be accessories to the few, the happy few…

Broken Gearbox Fun - PerformanceForums
Meanwhile, just this side of Goulburn

Coming back through Goulburn that night, Roley tried to grab a quick change to second, and shattered the gate. Only I could become one with the gearbox and do the changes to get home. It was my time to drive… again.

Pierre led us north… to safety – to a place in the sun… In the tenth year, nurturing his vision of a new world, Pierre married and resigned. The Captain and the Black Haaande waged war against the SCA for years… together they raised many musketeers…

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Pierre leading the Routiers on to Glory in 1989!
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Routiers, the Next Generation

House went on to many other things in many places, but up in the Pilliga, locals terrify travellers with tales of a disembodied bowel, roaming the scrub, snarling like a wild animal at night. The locals may laugh at the travellers, but they never, ever stop in the Pilliga after dark.

What of Roley? He continued re-enacting for many years, then went into a hermetic retreat. He’s gone now, earlier this year. Remember him… when you look into the night sky.

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And as for me… in the fullness of time, I became a leader – the chief of the Blue Mountains re-enactors until someone put a black floppy hat on my head and handed me a pike…

As for Cardboard Chicken Man… That was the last we ever saw of him. He lives now… Only in our memories…

The Cardboard Chicken lives on…

With apologies to Monsalvat, the NVG, the SCA, 1066, the script writers of Mad Max and Mad Max II, the English language in general, and above all, our livers.

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