Gariwerd boomerang

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For a while now I've wanted to make a boomerang. A recent trip to Gariwerd became the perfect time to do it. I took a few basic tools with me and late one afternoon I set out from our camp to find an appropriate wattle limb.

Near to where Zeph, Gabe and I were camping I found a lightwood wattle (Acacia implexa) that had blown over in a storm. It was still quite green and I found a suitable part to cut out.

I then got to work with my small hatchet cutting a basic form,

before beginning work on shaving down the sides. Traditionally, a stone head axe of a similar size would have been used to shape such tools.

I then used the small saw to do some more basic shaping,

returning to more shaving until most of the wood was removed. A boomerang is the precursor to an airplane's wing and precedes this technology by about forty thousand years. It has a flat under side and a curved up side.

I then used my pocket knife to finely finish the boomerang. It flew well, but didn't return. Someone at the camp joked, if it doesn't return it is not a boomerang, it's just a stick. I needed some better advice than this so we headed off to the Brambuk Cultural Centre again.

We admired the traditional boomerangs in the Brambuk collection,

and booked in to the boomerang throwing workshop with Jeremy. He kindly gave some great tips on getting my next boomerang to return. He suggested that the shape of mine was generally used for ceremonies. Next time I will try to find an acacia root with a greater natural curve.

On no other continent did people develop a returning arrow. This ingenious tool really indicates an incredible intelligence. I have often heard it said that Aboriginal people purposely didn't develop their technology beyond their edible and ceremonial needs. This represents a mature sensibility to land and resources that the west (and its anxiety for innovation) could really refer to now.


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