Children’s costume competition – History Alive 2016

The children’s competition returns to History Alive in 2016. It’s the perfect way to get children involved in history!

Dressing up is always heaps of fun, and memories are made from those moments.

You can make the kids excited about the whole process by involving them in the costume preparations! We recommend jumping on Google or heading to the library, and looking through historical websites or books to choose a time period or person from history. Because History Alive covers so many time periods, there are endless options for costumes! You’ll see everything from Roman, Viking, Medieval, High Medieval, Renaissance, Napoleonic, Colonial, Victorian, 20th Century (until the 1970s).

We know not everyone is great with a sewing machine or needle and thread, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create accessories and props to go with a purchased costume.

How to enter
Entry forms are located at the Information booth (near the entry gate). All children entering the competition must enter before 1pm each day.

1st Prize: 2-day family pass for History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2017, family portrait and a surprise
2nd Prize: 2-day family pass for History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2017 and a surprise
3rd Prize: 2-day family pass for History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2017
Most historically accurate costume: 2-day family pass for History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2017 and a surprise

Here are the fine print details you need to know
For children of general public:

  • Costumes should be historical and based on historical periods represented during History Alive.
  • The competition will be judged on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 of June in the Lytton Arena at xxx. These are two separate competitions, with entrants allowed to enter only once (unless your child wears a different costume each day).
  • Open to all children up to the age of 12. Children will be entered into one of two categories – 6 and under, and 7–12.
  • A top three from each gender will be chosen from each category.
  • There will be a special prize for ‘Most historically accurate’ costume for each day.
  • Entry Forms (including a photo release form) must be completed by a parent/guardian at the information booth
  • Prizes awarded are non-cash and not redeemable for cash.
  • All decisions made by the judges are final.

For children of re-enactors:

  • Costumes should be historical and based on historical periods represented during History Alive
  • Only one competition will be judged for re-enactors children, at 2PM on Sunday 12 June.
  • Open to all children up to the age of 12. Children will be entered into one of two categories – under 6 and 7-12.
  • Entry Forms must be completed by parent/guardian at the entry gate and will include a photo release form for use of images of the entrant by History Alive or its Agents.
  • Prizes awarded are non-cash and not redeemable for cash.
  • All decisions made by judges are final.

1916 – Part 1, the build up

IMG_7136 11916 was a year of terrible sacrifice.

The beginning of the Great War in 1914 saw the unprecedented mobilisation of European armed forces. The volunteers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) prepared to join in the conflict, and many anticipated joining the fighting in Europe. Instead, they were sent to Egypt, joining their New Zealand counterparts to form the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). In Egypt, they prepared for a seaborne assault on the Turkish Gallipoli Peninsula – this would be their initiation into battle. You will know the date, 25 April 1915.

Australians at home were thrilled by stories of their troops’ exploits in action and recruiting surged. However, the invasion came to nothing. Turkish forces held the ANZACs at bay, and after eight months of stalemate, this ill-fated enterprise was abandoned and the ANZACs were evacuated back to Egypt in December 1915.

IMG_3057 resizedFollowing the Gallipoli campaign, the battle-worn 1st and 2nd Australian infantry divisions were joined in Egypt by large numbers of fresh reinforcements and more volunteers arriving from Australia. The two divisions were expanded to four, while a further division (the 3rd) was raised in Australia and sent straight to Britain. From March 1916, the Australian divisions began arriving in France to serve on the Western Front.

1916 was the halfway point in four years of slaughter. For the French, there was the horror of the battle of Verdun. For British and Commonwealth forces, 1916 will be remembered for the series of battles known as the First Battle of the Somme. British and Commonwealth casualties from this fighting totalled an appalling 420,000. The French lost 204,000. Combined with German losses, there were more than a million casualties at the Somme.

For the Australians, 1916 began well enough, but once committed to the Western Front from July, their war quickly soured with heavy losses, and suffering at the Front and widespread mourning at home. In the attack at Fromelles the cost in lives had been the highest in any 24-hour period in the war, while the casualty rate in the six weeks at Pozières was the worst ever experienced by the AIF.

Australia had committed four infantry brigades to the Gallipoli landings; further brigades of infantry and light horse came soon afterwards. Now, on the Western Front, the Australians had four divisions each consisting of three brigades (each brigade consisted of between 2,500 to 5,000 troops). These, the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, were initially sent to a region of the Belgian border to gain familiarity with some of the new weapons of modern warfare including gas. They then moved into the front-line trenches near Armentières, in an area dubbed “The Nursery.”

NEDA9357WAlthough the Australians were in a relatively quiet sector, there were periods of sharp fighting, shelling, and some heavy raids. By the end of June, over 600 men had been killed. Only a few days earlier, Private William Jackson became the first man of the AIF to win the Victoria Cross in France. He rescued wounded members of his raiding party from no man’s land until his arm was blown off by a shell.

Stay tuned for more on the 1916…


Thank you to Robert Finlay of the Australian Great War Association – Queensland for sharing his knowledge of WWI.


Town CrierThe peal of a bell is heard followed by the cry of “Oyez, oyez, oyez!” Everyone’s attention is captured by the man or woman about to speak. The Town Crier has something to announce.

Did you know? The word “oyez” is derived from Anglo-Norman French and means “hear ye” or “listen.”

From early times, Town Criers played a very important part in day-to-day life in towns and cities.

When people generally could not read or write, and especially before the invention and spread of the printing press, the Town Crier performed the vital task of communicating edicts from the monarch, local bylaws, market days, and trade advertisements.

Because Town Criers were sometimes the bearers of bad news (tax increases for example), they were protected by law. Anything done by the Town Crier was done in the name of the ruling monarch, and harming a Town Crier was considered treason. Whenever you use the expression “don’t shoot the messenger”, you’re invoking a time-honoured protection under law afforded to Town Criers.

Today, the practical need for the role has all but disappeared and the Town Crier has drifted into folklore, often represented as a plump man in a frock coat, three-point hat, with cherry cheeks, waving a bell.

However many cities around the world retain the role for ceremonial purposes and have maintained an unbroken line of Town Criers lasting centuries.

In Australia, the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Australian Town Criers is custodian of the tradition.

Strangely, Brisbane, Australia’s largest City Council, does not have an official Town Crier, and has at times called on the services of Town Criers from other cities for ceremonial duties, such as our very own Max Bissett from the Redland City Council, who has been at History Alive for the last three years. In fact, the Redland City Council is hosting the National Town Crier Championships in 2016 and has urged Brisbane City Council to officially appoint a Town Crier to represent Queensland’s capital.

A Town Crier will be doing their best to be heard over cannon and rifle fire, the clash of swords and the hum of historical life at History Alive 2016 at Fort Lytton National Park on 11 & 12 June, 2016.

Five things you probably didn’t know about World War II Germany

BrettCroese-3030 (2)Being a re-enactor attracts many questions, especially if you’re a Second World War re-enactor. While many people may not understand what I do, and some even criticize it, it is something I have become quite passionate about.

I’ve always loved military history, especially the two World Wars. Re-enacting is living history; it’s a way for me to get closer to what I am most passionate about. What was it like to be a German soldier? From what is it like to sleep in a foxhole or to dig a trench, to doing extensive research into what made them tick, is something I find incredibly satisfying.

Naturally this has always been met with opposition; “But the Germans were all Nazis” or “They caused the Holocaust” and while this is true, I’ve always devoted my time as a re-enactor to try and help educate people to see past the stereotypes. Because of this, I’ve created a little list of little known facts about the Germans during the war, which I’ve frequently used to stun and shock when asked about my impression.


ONE: Not all German soldiers were Nazis

This has to be the most common misconception people have about the German army – that they were all Nazis. Saying that every German soldier was a Nazi is like saying that every current serving Australian soldier is a Liberal. The German army had roots in strong Prussian tradition, and part of this tradition was that every soldier was to reject any political ties. In the Wehrmacht (the German army), it was illegal for any soldier to be affiliated with, or a member of, a political party, including the Nazi party. People, of course, argue against this with, ‘the German uniform has a Swastika on it’, and this is true. However, people often forget or ignore that the Swastika was the official flag of Germany at the time. It is also worth mentioning that between 1933 and 1945 there were more than 25 assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler’s life, with nearly all the attempts made by German army, and even SS, officers.


TWO: German U-Boats made it to Australia20140607-1231200458-9365 (2)

Throughout 1944, the German U-Boat U-862 sailed around the coast of Australia, sinking American ships in Sydney and Fremantle. Launching from a U-Boat pen in the Japanese occupied East Indies, U-862 sailed down the coast of Western Australia, across the Great Australian Bite, around the coast of Tasmania then up to Sydney and across to New Zealand. There is an urban legend in New Zealand that while U-862 was secretly docked in the port of Napier in New Zealand, members of the crew snuck ashore and stole fresh milk from a farm. Whether or not this is true, we’ll never know.


THREE: The German army had Chaplains

I’ve seen first-hand the expressions of shock and disbelief when people see a man dressed, not only in a German uniform, but in the uniform of a Wehrmacht Chaplain. This is quickly followed by comments such as, ‘The Germans didn’t believe in God’ or ‘The Germans weren’t religious’. This is false. During the 30s and 40s, 95% of the German population were Christian, and during that time many Wehrmacht soldiers continued to belong to their churches. Even on their uniform, their belt buckles were inscribed with ‘Gott mit uns’, which translates to ‘God is with us’. Germany had a strong tradition of appointing Catholic field Chaplains in the army, and this continued throughout the Second World War. Hundreds of photos exist of German soldiers participating in field services conducted by Chaplains, and many civilian accounts exist of German soldiers taking part in mass at the local church.


IMGP9866_3437 (2)

FOUR: Foreign Volunteers in the SS

It is ironic that the Waffen-SS, an organization that prided itself on its German radical heritage, would eventually end up recruiting soldiers from all over the world to fight for Germany. At first, the Waffen-SS only allowed volunteers from acceptable European origins, such as Dutch, French, Danish, Norwegian and Belgian backgrounds. However, as the war progressed, so did the SS ‘Foreign Legions’ which would eventually include Latvian, Estonian, Ukrainian, Muslim, African, Indonesian and even Indian soldiers fighting for Germany against the Allies. The Waffen-SS even had British volunteers, who formed the British Friekorps.


FIVE: Operation Paperclip

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, many people believed it was the US that led the world’s technological advancement. This may or may not be true, but any and all success and progress that the US had following the war was because of one thing – German scientists. Nazi Germany was the pioneer in innovative technology such as, jet fighters and rocket science and while this may have come too late to help them in the war, the US was desperate to acquire this knowledge. The process of retrieving this knowledge came to be known as Operation Paperclip, a covert operation launched in 1945 with the aim of recruiting as many German scientists, technicians and engineers as possible before the Russians. Operation Paperclip was tremendously successful, with over 1500 scientists recruited, transported and employed in the US. In fact, most of the research relating to the Saturn V rockets and the Apollo spacecraft, came from Wernher von Braun, the scientist who had designed the V1 and V2 rockets.


Mitch Henson is a World War II Re-enactor with Army Group South. He is also studying history at university.

Cooking in the Middle Ages, recipe reconstruction

Medieval cooking display at History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2015

Andrew’s medieval cooking display at History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2015

The Forme of Cury was compiled and written by the master chefs of King Richard II of England, around 1390 CE. It gives us a great insight into the foods that would have been served into the royal household. As such, many people of wealth and affluence would be seeking to emulate this.

However, many of the recipes are not for great feasts and I think it is reasonable to assume that this is every day cooking for the royal household. By understanding what our ancestors ate we can get a better picture of how they lived. Food has a great influence on how someone lives, for it is more than just sustenance it is a way of live for many.


The Cury – what is that?

It may come as a surprise to most people, but the word ‘curry’ or ‘cury’ is actually an English word – not an Indian word. Cury or curye was English – referring to the cooking of food. As referred in the book title, The Forme of Cury. The word was most likely a bastardisation of the french ‘curie’ (to cook).

Alan Davidson, in The Oxford Companion to Food, proposes that Europeans misunderstood the Tamil word kari – a thin soup-like spiced sauce – to refer to all dishes of this kind. Hence becoming the word curry.

At History Alive this year, my re-enactment group, Ex Libris cooked a few dishes over the weekend. One of which was Mawmeny a dish that appears in The Forme of Cury and a personal favourite of mine. I have made this before at home and it is delicious.

First we’ll discuss the original extract from the book.

The Original extract reads:

FOR TO MAKE MAWMENNY. XX.IX. XIIII. Take þe chese and of Flessh of Capouns or of Hennes. & hakke smale in a morter. take mylke of Almandes with þe broth of freissh Beef, oþer freissh flessh. & put the flessh in þe mylke oþer in the broth and set hem to þe frye. & alye hem up with flour of Ryse. or gastbon. or amydoun. as chargeant as with blanke desire. & with zolkes of ayren and safroun for to make it zelow. and when it is dressit in disshes with blank desire styk above clowes de gilofre. & strewe Powdour of galyngale above. and serue it forth.

That looks like a confusing mess, but with a bit of translation we can make sense of it.

Andrew Fraser with fellow group members in the Ex Libris encampment at History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2015

Andrew Fraser with fellow group members in the Ex Libris encampment at History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2015

Firstly, when the recipe is speaking about ‘Blanke Desire’ – it is referring to another dish that Mawmeny is supposed to be served with at the time so this can be disregarded.

Take the Cheese and of Flesh of Capon or of Hens and make small in a mortar. Take the milk of the Almonds with the broth of the flesh of the Beef, other fresh flesh. and put the flesh in the milk other in the broth and set them to be fry. And set them up with flour of rice or of gastbon or amydoun as chargeant as with blanke desire. And with egg yolks and saffron for to make it zelow. And when to serve it in dishes with blank desire stick above it Clove – gilliflower and strew powder of Galangal above it. and serve it forth.

That’s still really hard to follow and still confusing. Some of these things are easily understandable: almond milk, chicken and broth. But others still are confusing and speak in terms we no longer use or understand.

To clarify, amydoun is wheat grains that have been soaked in water, and then cooked and then dried to be used as a thickener. Gastbon is also known as wastrel bread – a good quality bread. To read more about medieval breads go here and here.

So I’ll simplify it again:

Take cheese and the meat of a chicken and pulverise in a mortar. Take some almond milk and beef broth, and other flesh. Put the flesh in the milk and the other in the broth and set them to fry. Thicken them with rice flour, or white flour or amydoun. Whisk in egg yolks and saffron. When serving, garnish it with cloves and galangal.

This is in no way helpful to us in a modern context, medieval recipes do not give measurements – there was no standardisation of cooking as we have it today. We do not get a teaspoon of this a cup of that. When it comes to reconstructing a medieval receipe, it tends to involved a lot of experimentation, and trial and error.

Many assumptions are made in culinary reconstruction. For starters, there are many different sources for Mawmeny, some that call for Greek wine and no almond milk. The first step is to find a modern reconstruction of a Mawmeny recipe to work from.

I got this recipe from Medieval Cookery:

  • 1 pound chicken
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. galingale
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. mace
  • pinch saffron
  1. Chop the chicken finely and place in a large pot.
  2. Whisk together almond milk egg yolks and rice flour, and add to chicken.
  3. Add spices and bring to a low boil. Simmer until thick, and serve hot.

Source [MS Harley 5401, S. Wallace (trans.)]: Mawmeny. Recipe brawne of capons or of hennys & dry þam wele, & taise þam small; þan take thyk mylk of almonds & put þe saide brawne þerto, & styr it wele ouer þe fyre, & seson it with suger & powder of canell, with mase & quibibs & anneys in confete, & serof it forth.

This is a later recipe, however we can see that the this original also did not have measurements. The writers make an assumption that their audience know how to cook, they are merely passing on how to achieve a dish.

When asked by people how much spice they should add my advice is the same for them in both a modern context as in a medieval one. Use enough that pleases your taste, if following the recipe the first time make sure you follow it close enough to understand the intention of the flavour. But don’t be afraid to add a bit more or less to suit your own palate. The medieval palate was as refined as ours, and they did crave flavour.

My interpretation of The Forme of Cury Chicken Mawmeny

  • 500g chicken
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cups almond milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. rice flour
  • pinch saffron
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp galangal
Andrew Fraser

Andrew Fraser

  1. Finely cut chicken and place in a large pot, whisk together almond milk, stock egg yolks and rice flour add to chicken.
  2. Bring to the boil.
  3. Serve hot and sprinkle with fine ground galangal and cloves.

You’ll note that I have left the cheese out of the mix for now for now as I am not too sure of the type I am supposed to be using and how much. I will be fiddling around with this, but if I would hazard a guess, I would say 100 grams of a basic cheddar.

Reconstruction of recipes is hit and miss, sometimes you make something great, other times it ends up in the sink. Those sink times you know you are on the wrong path so you go back to the shops and try again.

Feeling curious/brave? You can find a copy of The Forme of Cury from the University of Adelaide here.

Andrew Fraser is a 14th Century re-enactor with re-enactment group, Ex Libris. He loves talking about medieval cookery (Ed: and we enjoy reading it!). You can find him on his Modern Medieval Man blog and Facebook page.