Aboriginal Weapons

Hunting Spears

Hunting Spears from the Mbantua Museum

Hunting spears used by the Aboriginal people are usually made from Tecoma vine.  These vines are not straight but in fact curly.  To straighten them the maker dries out the moisture by heating the branch over a small fire while it is still green.  While doing this he shapes it into the form that he wants.  A wooden barb is attached to the spearhead by using kangaroo (sometimes emu) sinew.  The opposite end is then tapered to fit onto a spearthrower.  On completion the spear is usually around 270 centimetres (9 feet) long. In Aboriginal Art the spear is usually depicted as a straight line with a triangle at one end.



Spear Thrower

Spearthrowers are also commonly known as Woomera or Miru.  The spearthrower is usually made from mulga wood and has a multi- function purpose.  It is however primarily designed to launch a spear.  The thrower grips the end covered with Spinifex resin and places the end of the spear into the small peg on the opposite end of the spearthrower.  The spear can then be launched with substantial power at an enemy or prey.  Inserted into the Spinifex resin of the handle of many spearthrowers is very sharp piece of quartz rock.  This is used for cutting, shaping or sharpening.   The spearthrower was also used as a fire making saw, as a receptacle of mixing ochre, in ceremonies and to deflect spears in battle. In Aboriginal Art the Spear Thrower/Woomera is depicted as what can be seen in this image....


Don Onion holding a traditional shield.

Shields are usually made from the bloodwood of Mulga trees. Aboriginal men using very basic tools make these. They are designed to be mainly used in battle but are also used in ceremonies. Like other weapons, design varies from region to region. Many shields have traditional designs or fluting on them whilst others are just smooth. In Aboriginal art the Shield is depicted as an oval shape with two small oval circles for hand holds. See here....




Boomerangs are also a very multi functional instrument of the Aboriginal people. Their uses include warfare, hunting prey, rituals and ceremonies, musical instruments, digging sticks and also as a hammer.

Boomerangs made in the desert are non-returning and when thrown correctly can reach distances of 160 metres (175 yards). This is nearly three times the distance a fighting club could be thrown. They are usually made from mulga wood and can be smoothed or incised with various designs purporting to that maker or family group. In Aboriginal Art the boomerang is depicted as a 'V' shape or the 'killer boomerang' as a Number 7. See here.....


Aboriginal Fighting Clubs

Clubs are usually always made from mulga wood and can vary in shapes and sizes. Many are fire hardened and some have razor sharp quartz set into the handle with Spinifex resin. They are used in ceremonies, in battle, for digging, for grooving tools, for decorating weapons and for many other purposes. In Aboriginal art paintings fighting clubs are usually depicted the same as digging sticks. See here...

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