This woomera is a fine example of the Australian Aboriginal spear-throwing device. A spear would be hooked onto the woomera and then ‘launched’ from the woomera which acted to extend the effective length of the arm so that the spear would be thrown with greater force.
Of native mulga wood, it shows plenty of chipping marks most probably caused by having been fashioned from a piece of wood using a sharpened piece of flint as a chisel.
An animal tooth or claw most probably from a kangaroo has been attached via native twine to the tip to aid with spear throwing.
The base of the handle is wrapped with probably with black gum from the triodia plant to provide a rounded sphere to aid with flicking the spear off the woomera. It is decorated with incised designs which possibly indicate the tribe or ‘skin’ of its owner. Woomeras were used by men only – hunting for wallabies and kangaroos was very much considered ‘men’s business’. Interestingly, the rocket launching range in South Australia was named Woomera after the Aboriginal device.
Note: This item is accompanied by a custom-made stand.
McCarthy, F.D., Australia’s Aborigines: Their Life and Culture, Colorgravure, 1957.