Wooden Tools and Weapons
All wooden tools were either made from the available local resources or traded. The hard wood of casuarina, wattle, blackwood, and gum trees were used to make wooden tools and weapons. The main weapons used for hunting included the gurawan (spear), wamar (woomera), the bargan (boomerang), shields and boondi (wooden club).
Boomerangs are an internationally recognised symbol of Australia. We see the boomerang as a symbol of cultural endurance and a tangible link to our long presence on this continent. The boomerang features in our creation mythology, and we consider the boomerang as old as the continent.
There were seven different shaped boomerangs for different uses.
We used them as weapons in conflict, and for hunting birds and game, such as emu, kangaroo and other marsupials. The hunter could throw the boomerang directly at the animal or make it ricochet off the ground. In skilled hands, the boomerang was effective for hunting prey up to 100 metres away.
Several types of spears were used by our Ancestors for different purposes, such as hunting, fighting, fishing and ceremony. Spears were generally somewhere between 2-4 meters in length, depending upon its use, and the size of the owner. There are examples of smaller spears used for teaching young men.
When making a spear the first job was to choose a suitable sapling. Once it was cut the wood was pulled through the hot ashes and gently turned so that it did not burn. This warmed the sap and made the wood pliable enough to be straightened. The next stage was to rub the shaft with a sharp stone, sand or shells to make it smooth, this job could take many hours. When almost completed it was smeared with fat, usually from a goanna or emu to preserve the wood.
Paul Greenwood (2013) Land of the Wiradjuri: Traditional Wiradjuri Culture. NSW Riverina Environmental Education Centre, Wagga Wagga.
Wamar, or spear throwers, were tools used by our Ancestors to increase the accuracy and distance a spear could be thrown. Using a wamar would enable the thrower to launch a spear up to three times the distance. We made wamars from hard wood and they were made roughly the length of the thrower’s arm.
Our Ancestor’s shields come in two main types – Girran.girran broad shields and marga parrying shields. Marga deflected blows from a club so they were constructed to be manoeuvrable and needed to be strong enough to deflect the blow of a hardwood club. They also needed to be thick, strong, and narrow. Girran.girran were wide, often oval-shaped with a decorated front. Our Ancestors used these shields for blocking spears and protecting the body. Shields were made from different materials on different Country, such as buttress root, mulga wood and bark.
Shields were decorated with carving and ochre using designs that were important to the maker. The designs reflected Wiradjuri clan motifs.
The ganhay is a smooth cylindrical hardwood stick sharpened at one end with a flat top base. This wooden implement was used by women for digging up edible bush tucker such as yams, roots and burrowing animals or insects. Also used as protection from animals and other mobs.