We’re at Buttenshaw Park, a nondescript reserve off the Great Western Highway in Sydney’s Lower Blue Mountains where the group hold combat training sessions every Saturday. Around us, long-haired children gather twigs and women sit on sheepskins, knitting with needles made from animal bones. Men in chainmail fight each other with swords and circular shields. There’s some kind of high-pitched music, which sounds to me somewhere between an angry sparrow and a church organ. I later find out it’s coming from Close, who’s taught himself to play a Medieval stringed instrument called a hurdy-gurdy.
- When I heard about a community in the Blue Mountains with a decades-long passion for recreating life as Vikings there was only one action that felt plausible — writing about it. So I did in a feature for VICE that reminded me how much I love reportage (and how rarely the pressures of full-time freelancing allow writers the time and resources to pursue this kind of journalism). You can read the whole thing here.