Tin-kettling was an old rural custom in Tasmania, as indeed it was around the whole of Australia. It was a kind of initiation for newlyweds; their welcome into the community as a married couple. In the early days it was carried out by the ‘young bloods’ of the district and could get a little out of hand.

Saucepans, frying pans, tin trays and other household objects became instruments in a discordant ‘band’ outside the marital home. I think I spot a couple of good old kerosene tins in the following photo.

I was surprised and a little disappointed to find that my Tasmanian hometown once took a dim view of tin-kettling;

ULVERSTONE – Wednesday. An attempt to revive this once much honoured practice of tin-kettling was the cause of some dozen of local lads being charged with disturbing the peace. At the Police Court yesterday two of the defendants put in an appearance, pleaded guilty, and were fined 2s 6d costs, with 4s court costs. The remainder, who did not appear, were each fined 2s 6d with costs 8s, and one youthful offender was admonished and discharged. (Examiner, Jun. 12 1917.)

Oddly enough this seemingly trivial episode was followed by a more serious incident at nearby Castra just a few months later.

This is what happened after the quiet marriage of Edward Bingham to Miss Amy Melville on October 17 1917. There was a lengthy write up of the ceremony at Devonport, which concluded;

‘The presents were numerous and costly. After the breakfast, the happy couple motored to ‘Freelands’, Central Castra, where they will reside.’ (Advocate, October 18, 1917)

Freelands, Central Castra, where tin kettling created a disturbance!

Now Freelands was also where Edward’s parents lived. His father, Mr Thomas Bingham, was a prominent local figure. He was a member of the Ulverstone Council and a Justice of the Peace. He and his wife Louisa are pictured below in a photograph taken earlier that year.


Mr Bingham did not take kindly to his own peace being disturbed on the night of his son’s wedding. He went outside and told the revellers they were not welcome. Unfortunately, some of those present, no doubt emboldened by beer, refused to leave;

Some slight disturbance took place, during which Mr Bingham had the back of his hand stabbed, and the tendon of at least one finger severed. He was driven to Ulverstoe this morning, and is to be put under chloroform whilst Drs Gollan and Ferris open up the wound and attend to same.

Anxious not to create any more trouble among his neighbours (who were most likely friends of young Edward), the victim was now very circumspect regarding his injury;

Mr Bingham has no idea who did it, and is inclined to think it was an accident, as possibly some men were cutting their tobacco, or may have had some of those bottle horns, one of which might have inflicted the injury. (Examiner, October 19 1917),

Horn bottle opener, blamed for injury at a Tasmanian tin kettling.

The tin kettling tradition was still alive around Ulverstone post WWII. My father’s diaries record attending one at the home of Jim and Mona Rudd at Abbotsham, in April 1950. The custom had evolved into something far more civilized. Often there was advance warning to the young couple, who invited the kettlers in for supper and games. By this time both men and women took part. It was all harmless fun in tight-knit rural communities where there was not a lot of evening entertainment other than church socials.

Several years later my parents went to the tin-kettling of neighbours Ralph and Avis Dobson at South Road, Ulverstone. The games played greatly amused my mother. In one, the guests were blindfolded and asked to identify various objects being passed around. Among them was a raw sausage, which created great hilarity. At the same evening one of Dobson boys performed a trick involving cutting his brother’s tie in half then miraculously restoring it. With a great flourish he revealed the tie; ‘Oh dear, sorry, it doesn’t seem to have worked’, he said, handing Ralph the two pieces amid much laughter.

Sadly, that was last I ever heard of the old custom in our district. Pre-wedding kitchen teas and bridal showers took over in the 1960s.

UPDATE – If you read the comments below you will see that tin-kettling continued for much longer than I was aware of.


  1. Just last week, I found a court report in Trove about one of my ancestors who was arrested for tin-kettling in the 1800’s. Luckily the charges were dismissed when it came to the court. I knew what ‘tin-kettling’ referred to (it was obvious from the context), but I’d not heard that term before. Such a coincidence that your post appears today!

  2. The tradition of tin-kettling lasted well into the 1960’s in the Hawkesbury-Kurrajong area. We were tin-kettled in late 1964 three weeks after we moved into our new home.

  3. We married in 1972 in Tasmania. We lived in the Nubeena area close to .Port Arthur.

    A couple of weeks after moving in to our house we were awoken by the most horrific noise……Looked out the window to see the little house circled by shadowy figures with a myriad of ‘noise making’ instruments……There were rubbish tin lids, sheets of corrugated iron, steel fence posts, a couple of chains and quite a few saucepans……all be bashed with great enthusiasm…..We were being ‘tin kettled’!!! Being city slickers we had no idea what was happening…..
    My husband invited the ‘musicians’ in for a ‘quick drink’ while I stayed in the bedroom……
    All went well….they didn’t stay for long….but in the morning I found that my husband had served their drinks in our brand new crystal glasses…..which were a wedding present…Grrrrrrr…..I think he got the message that I was not happy…🤭🤬🤬

    • Pauline

      Dear me Robyn, no wonder you hid in the bedroom. I hope no crystal glasses were broken. 😎

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