Gathering tinder for the fire is very satisfying. I have loved doing this I was child, gathering sticks in the Tasmanian bush. Behind the dear old dogs in the following photo is the woodheap on our farm. It was taken circa 1960. We had an open fire and a fuel stove, so a good wood supply was essential.

I live in the Blue Mountains of NSW now. We don’t have dogs, but my companions are blue wrens and yellow robins.

There are many other creatures that are drawn to the woodheap, and recently I found myself in a tricky situation!

A couple of years ago I used an electric saw to cut down an old pine stump. It was about two metres tall and produced a good many rounds of ‘wood’. To be honest they barely qualified as wood because the stump was well rotted, having been infected by white ants many years previously.

Anyway, I realized that with a bit of drying out I had a fantastic supply of tinder. There is still quite a lot left. The material simply ignites with a match….no need for commercial fire starters and absolutely perfect for our new stove.

I line the tinder up to ‘season’ under cover at the base of our woodheap. It’s a bit like Irish farmers drying out clods of peat.


While I was writing this story I thought I’d show how I use my splitter to work around the circle removing handy sized pieces of tinder. The section l chose was saturated after heavy rain, but hey, it would give the general idea. Look carefully and you can see the moisture oozing where the head of the splitter has gone in.

Drying out the tinder wood.

After I’d taken the photo I decided I might as well finish splitting it up, wet as it was.

A couple of almighty swipes and bits flew everywhere, as did a very large funnel web spider which had been peacefully sleeping inside. OMG! I’d forgotten how much they love moisture. 😱He (or she) woke up was not at all pleased! Thank goodness it didn’t land on me. My main worry was that it would scuttle off and hide. Imagine if I picked it up with something later on and got bitten. Thankfully I managed to scoop it up in a plastic bucket. It’s pretty safe to do this because they are unable to climb up the slippery sides.

The tinder spider!

Afterwards I transferred it to a tulip tree leaf for a final photo and then released it well away from the woodheap. A majestic creature really. However, a lesson learned….do not hack into saturated, rotted wood! 🤓


For information on funnel web spiders from the Australian Museum, CLICK HERE

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.