Aboriginal art forms discussed in our blog usually pertain to painting or sculpture. These forms both often involve storytelling or at least reference to an Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime story. However, some Aborigines truly embody the Aboriginal art of storytelling in a much more literal sense.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that
this blog contains the names of deceased persons.
Sugarbag Jack of the Walpiri tribe lived in the settlement of Yuendumu in Central Australia (in the Northern Territory). He said that most people would say the boomerang has few advantages over a rifle when it comes to hunting kangaroos. However, there is certainly an important advantage – and it’s an impressive one: a boomerang is safer than a rifle because a kangaroo can’t turn a boomerang against the thrower, whereas it can fire a rifle.
You may be thinking, “I don’t believe it! Can a kangaroo really fire a rifle?”
If you’re sceptical about this, then read this true story about a kangaroo that shot his hunter in the arm. It was told by Arthur Crosbie, a half-caste stockman who worked at Tipperary Station in the Northern territory. He had a six-inch bullet wound in the back of his right upper-arm to prove it.
“I was in Tipperary stockcamp,” Crosbie said. “Kangaroos were coming into water. We were short of beef. I thought there’d be nothing wrong with fresh ‘roo steak and maybe a pot of ‘roo-tail soup. So I went down with the rifle and shot one. It flew into the air, then sprawled on the ground. I ran over to the spring to bring him back, and reloaded the rifle on the way, thinking I might get another.”
“When I got there the ‘roo was still alive so I took aim to finish it off. But then I remembered we had only half a dozen bullets left. They were precious. A big waddy was lying near the kangaroo’s head and I decided to kill it with that rather than waste a bullet.”
“I jammed the butt of the rifle on its throat, holding its head so it couldn’t move, then reached down to pick up the stick. While I was doing that the kangaroo got a paw around the trigger and pulled. I jumped about ten feet … the bullet went right through my arm. You know, just six inches to the right and he’d have got me through the chest. Nobody would have believed the story and my wife, who was with me, may have been on a murder charge.”
“I’ve shot hundreds of kangaroos for tucker but this was the first one ever shot me,” Crosbie said.
Now do you see that a boomerang is safer?
(Lockwood, 2008: 237-239)
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Lockwood, Douglas (2008) We, The Aborigines , Marleston, South Australia : Gecko Books