Australia: Boomerang                                                      


The boomerang (photo) is a flat crescent-shaped stick that whirls through the air in a spiraling arc that sweeps back toward the thrower.


Boomerang History

The Aborigines’ everyday weapon was a heavy non-returning boomerang that could be either thrown or wielded as a sword. Similar throwing sticks have been hurled by many people including: American Indians, Egyptians, and Danes.


The Art of Stick Throwing

Because they revolve as they fly, their tips travel at enormous speed and pack considerably more wallop on impact than a non-spinning missile such as a thrown rock. The lighter-weight returning boomerang was exclusively an Australian invention and represented an elegant refinement on the art of stick throwing.


Boomerang Uses

Though used mainly in games and tournaments, or for amusing children, it played an important part in at least one serious activity: the duck hunt. Crouching beside an oxbow lake in one of the half-dry river courses, a duck hunter would hurl his boomerang above a flight of oncoming birds. At the same time he would screech like a duck hawk. Tricked by his calls and by the shadow of the boomerang overhead, the ducks would dive low into nets staked out or held up by collaborating hunters farther down the billabong. Instead of falling into the water, the boomerang, meanwhile, would land at the feet of the thrower and be ready at hand for the next flight of ducks and the next cast.


Its sharp edge makes an efficient knife (image) for cutting up and skinning kangaroos and emus.

Used as a trowel or digging stick, it enables the user to dig a cooking pit, open up a well or ferret out a burrowing animal.


Two boomerangs clapped together (image) provide a rhythmic background for Aboriginal dances.


Boomerangs are also used to retouch stone blades, to start fires, and as swords and clubs in combat.


Types of Boomerangs

The boomerang that the Aboriginals use for hunting (B) is fairly straight and streamlined in cross section (F). It is thrown directly at game and does not return. A pick-like tip may be added (A) to make a more lethal fighting weapon. Returning boomerangs (C, D) are lighter, have an airfoil shape (E) and are used as toys and in sporting contests.



Throwing a Boomerang

To throw a returning boomerang, grasp an end, keeping the curved upper surface facing your body. Throw the boomerang overhand, adding a sharp flick of the wrist as you let go. Aim into the wind to make a boomerang come back.