Here is a salute to the early Australian pioneers who in the absence of proper facilities and processed materials, substituted ingenuity and available resources to fashion equipment and effect repairs.
With typical Australian humour, the finished product was often described as 'rough enough for the bush' meaning that, though it lacked the gloss and finish of the factory produced item, it was nevertheless, solid and functional; meant to do the job rather than to look good.
And in a land so sparsely populated, it was unlikely to undergo frequent or educated scrutiny anyway!
Designed and manufactured entirely in Australia, it mirrors the character of the nation and its early pioneers.
It is with pride and a sense of history therefore that we may proclaim it thus; 'Biji-Barbi: Rough Enough for the Bush!'
Like so many good Australian inventions, the Biji-Barbi has its roots in agriculture. Using the grand old Australian 'plough-disc' bbq as inspiration, the basic design was contrived in 1989 and a patent duly applied.
According to its designer and manufacturer, Tony Upton;
"One of the originals I made, was for a bunch of us who had planned a fishing trip to the Murrumbidgee River, so we referred to it as the 'bidgee' barbie - the barbie for the 'Bidgee.
I live on the Lachlan River, so, tactfully, I changed the spelling. Of course, everyone wanted one, so, in a rare moment of epiphany, I reckoned I was onto something a bit like *Harold Lasseter. As it turns out, the comparison is better than I'd hoped!"
Small numbers of Biji-Barbis were virtually hand-made until 1996, during which time the 'clicking leg hinge' was designed and patented. When setting up the Biji-Barbi a distinct 'CLICK' can be heard as the hinge snaps in place.
Bidgee Welding Pty Ltd of Wagga Wagga then took over production with an investment in tooling, jigs and machinery that saw significantly larger numbers of Biji-Barbis produced.
The handle 'keeper' arrangement (as well as developing the 'clicking leg') has been an enduring contribution to design made by Bidgee Welding.
Manufacture reverted back to the original designer in 2003 with the purchase of the tooling and jigs from Bidgee Welding.
Formal records haven't been kept; however, an estimated 6000-8000 units have been produced and sold to June 30th 2008.
Product options (e.g. sizes, with/out centre hole) accessories (canvas cover, tool caddy) and co-products (FlipGrips, Australian Bush Cooking) have been added to the range to enrich the Biji-Barbi experience.
Quality and presentation of the essential product as well as an innovative approach to product development are the fundamental priorities of this micro business.
*Harold Lasseter (1880-1931) tried to rediscover a 16 kilometre reef of gold that he claimed contained gold 'as thick as plums in a pudding'.