Tony Angel of Gunnedah is in search of old stock whips, broken and all. At age 10, Tony used to sit on the back of the combine, plaiting belts with string out of the wheat bags. He then moved onto red hide before finally using kangaroo hide, which Tony says is by far the best quality and most durable for whips.
For 40 years, Tony has been plaiting and has slowly improved his skill set, now able to do fancy plaits and make trophy whips. He has been a member of the Australian Plaiters and Whipmakers Association (APWA) for eight years and is passionate about keeping the skill alive.
“It’s definitely a dying art” says Tony. “There is a lot involved in making a whip, it is no simple task. For roo hide whips, there are five different components including the plaited belly, the bolster and another few bellies. Then you have to stretch it and split it. It is the toughest leather you can get. For red hide, there is the belly and then four straps. Balance is everything in a whip. In the association, we hold workshops for those who would like to learn how to plait, and for those who would like to advance their skills. We want to keep the art of plaiting and whipmaking up and running.”
Tony is on the hunt for old stock whips from the Snowy Monaro area.
“With the history of droving and horsemanship in the mountains, there are some really amazing quality whips floating around in your area. Most good whips come from the high country.”
Tony says he doesn’t mind if they are broken as it gives him a chance to check out the belly of the whips, which shows how they were made.
“I’d like to take them back to the association and show our members, who are really interested in seeing old whips.”
The APWA was formed in 1985 and now has members Australia wide and even internationally. The association publishes a quarterly magazine, Australian Plaiters and Whipmakers Journal, with a mixture of news and ‘how to’ articles contributed by members.
Featured in the Monaro Post 28 June, 2017