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The kylie, or what we know as a boomerang, is a returning throw stick. It has different shapes and sizes as well as different functions. However, it is internationally recognized as an Australian icon. Aboriginal Australian people use this device mainly for hunting. However, boomerang has been used as entertainment and competition as well.
In this article, we are going to discuss the Australian Aboriginal boomerang history.
The History of Boomerang
The earliest evidence of boomerangs dates back 20,000 years ago in Australia. In fact, the Aboriginal myths about creation mention the use of a boomerang. It was said that the Ancestors formed the landscape by throwing boomerangs and spears into the earth.
For Aboriginal people, boomerang is as old as creation. It is also a symbol of enduring strength for them.
In modern Australia, boomerangs have become increasingly popular and sold as souvenirs. This helped the boomerang transform into a national symbol and has branded various other products, such as brandy, butter, cigarette papers, and flour, as distinctly Australian products.
Boomerang has a unique feature that allows it to return after being thrown. This has become a favorite symbol for the tourism and transport industries. Australian military emblems and gifts or memorabilia also feature a boomerang, expressing their wish to return to Australia like a boomerang.
Types of Boomerang
Now that we know the Australian Aboriginal boomerang history, let’s move on to the types of boomerangs.
Traditionally, a boomerang is made of a root or branch of certain trees or bushes with a distinct grain and shape, and then it is carefully constructed. The trees chosen are usually a mangrove, gidgea, mangrove, casuarina, or mulga. The branch or root is then carefully carved to create a distinct shape.
There are basically two types of boomerangs, returning and non-returning ones. Both can be used for hunting; however, the techniques are different. The Aboriginal in Australia capture birds with returning boomerangs and hanging nets.
The nets are hanging between grouping trees as traps. When a flock of birds flies above the nets, the boomerangs are thrown above the flock to imitate a hawk, these birds’ predators. They would be frightened and then swoop and dive, trying to avoid the ‘predator’ without realizing that they were flying into the nets set up in their path.
The non-returning boomerang is usually used to kill fish in high tidal areas. Fishes are usually trapped in rock or beach pools, making it easy to capture them.
This type of boomerang does not have the aerodynamic qualities that allow them to return when being thrown. The non-returning boomerang is heavier and wider; therefore, it could slice through the water easily. Aside from being used to catch fish, the non-returning boomerang is also used as a digging stick to forage for root vegetables or to scrape ashes away from fire.
Interesting Facts about Boomerang
Aside from their interesting shape and feature, boomerang also has various interesting facts. Here are some of them:
- Most boomerangs are actually the non-returning variation and were never intended to do so. The returning variety was actually made in a special form, for recreational use, or to scare birds into hunters’ nets.
- Boomerang is believed to be the first flying object heavier than air made by humans.
- Traditional boomerangs in Australia actually exist in Eastern and Southern Australia only. This weapon is unknown to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, half of South Australian, the northern part of Queensland, and Western Australia.
- Boomerang is traditionally thought of as native to Aboriginal in Australia only. However, this weapon is also found in different parts of the world, including ancient Egypt, North America, and Europe.
- The largest boomerang made was 259 centimeters in length, while the world’s smallest boomerang to travel more than 20 meters was only 48 millimeters in length.
- The longest time a boomerang flies in the air is over 2 minutes.
- Today there are many boomerang throwing contests, such as return accuracy, Aussie round, trick catch, maximum time aloft, fast catch, and endurance.
Now that concludes our article on Australian Aboriginal boomerang history and everything you need to know about this unique weapon. Its unique feature and the culture behind it make this weapon used as an important symbol in Australia. Therefore it is no surprise that you will find many souvenirs in Australia that features a boomerang.