Historical information

George Barraclough (1907-1981), a landholder from north of Licola, in the Victorian Great Divide, made a number of these spikes, as needed. As accounts were paid, receipts were pasted to the account, the account was impaled on the spike, and the spike was rehung on a nail on a wall stud. All transactions dealing with money were filed in this manner, as an orderly way of tracking items that were usually remotely ordered and delivered on the mail car.

George Barraclough used No8 in a number of creative ways, and his durable and untilitarion toasting forks are still in family use today.

After George died in 1981 the spikes with their accounts passed to his daughter Linda Barraclough, who archived the accounts and later made copies available for study. Those accounts form a record of the businesses of Heyfield for 1940s and 1950s.


This bill hook is of historical significance as a survivor of bush ingenuity and bush filing systems. Commercially made bill spikes were in common use in offices, where they usually consisted of a heavy metal base with an upright pointed piece of wire.

Number 8 fencing wire was an important and readily accessible repair commodity for rural dwellers, and achieved iconic status as the most generic method of repair for cars broken down (resort to nearest fence) and was even used to hold houses together. Referring to "No 8 fencing wire" became a type of Australian shorthand for bush ingenuity.

It is no longer available, being replaced by 4mm high tensile wire.

This item is important both as an example of inventive use of No8 wire, and also as an example of the bush filing methods in use in the 1940s and 1950s.

No 8 fencing wire holds a similar position in New Zealand - see Wikipedia NZ at

Physical description

A section of number 8 fencing wire twisted to form a bill spike. It has a rounded.base made from several twists of wire in a flat platform, with the remaining wire rising from the centre to form a stem that terminates in a hook with a sharpened point.