Boomerang and woomera

I found these Australian Aboriginal artefacts in my parents’ loft! The first is a boomerang which would have been used as a throwing stick for hunting small game, knocking things down from trees etc. The second is a woomera, a spear thrower similar to an atatl.

Unlike an atlatl, a woomera typically has this paddle shape. Some had multiple functions and had a cutting edge along one side for chopping, or were used to carry water-soaked vegetable matter. I love the snake pattern carved into the surface of this one. I doubt I’ll be using this one for spear throwing but it’s hugely inspirational.


7 comments so far

  1. Tico Vogt on

    Have you thrown the boomerang and did it arc its way back to you? That seems like such a magical phenomenon. I can’t make out the detail photo on the right. Is there a stone that is bound/lashed to the tip?



  2. tangiblesanctity on

    Hi Tico

    I haven’t thrown it as I didn’t want to risk damaging it. I’m not sure it is one that is designed to come back though. I think it is more of an aerodynamic rabbit-stick. I stand to be corrected though.

    I think it’s antler lashed to the tip with sinew and set with some sort of pitch.

  3. al-dhabih on

    The Boomerang & the Woomera were made for ornament, not for use: the B ought to have, at either end, an aerofoil sliced in opposite edges; they usually are symmetrical; but ‘aerodynamic rabbit-stick’ is about right: good for birds, too.apart from the snake, the shape is wrong for a W., which is a bowl, able to carry berries, dead lizards, roots; or used to mix ochre & fat for ceremonial purposes; lots of grass. plus water, & one can carry water without it slopping out. Your parents were dudded, as for as the real thing goes, but the workmanship is genuine. Both words are Wiradjuri.

  4. al-dhabih on

    PS: unlikely to be antler; try Bone. there are five species of deer in Australia, but they are a recent development.

  5. tangiblesanctity on

    Thanks al-dhabih, that’s great information! My parents were given them as a gift and didn’t know what the woomera was, so they won’t be too disappointed. I had a sneaky feeling that these were made for the tourist market. Still wonderful objects though!

  6. al-dhabih on

    A pleasure: my father’s mother’s mother was a Morgan; so we may be distant cousins::lol enjoy! see you on PP

  7. Sandy Macduff on

    Hmm, 2 years late but I’ll still say it. The remarks of “Al-dhabih” exemplify the Internet phenomenon of all too many people having verbal diarrhoea about subjects on which they know [next to] nothing. Everything he has said is wrong. The boomerang and the woomera may be ornamented but the statement that they were “made for ornament, not for use” is completely wrong: when you’re a nomad, everything has to have practical use because you end up carting it all on your back.

    Some boomerangs have an aerofoil shape so they can return but most do not. A woomera is most definitely a throwing stick; only some are shaped to also function as a long very narrow “bowl”, and even then not to the detriment of the primary purpose. It can also be used to shield off blows during an altercation. Shapes, sizes and designs of both implements vary greatly throughout Australia.

    Whether made for the tourist market or not, the two implements shown seem to me to be fine examples of genuine Australian Aboriginal implements. Your parents were most definitely NOT “dudded”.

    How do I know this? Apart from decades of reading in Australian anthropology: my father worked in very remote inland South Australia during the 1950s and was given several boomerangs and woomeras and a 9-foot-long spear by Aborigines who had seen their first white man only a year before. I will never forget them.

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