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National Museum of Australia

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Boomerang found near Canning Stock Route


Boomerang found near Canning Stock Route

Object information

Physical description

A brown wooden boomerang that is asymmetrical. It is tick shaped with one long side and one short side. It has a crack at the shorter end that has been repaired. One side of the boomerang is smooth and the other is decorated with carved lines.

Statement of significance

The James Ferguson collection consists of a boomerang collected in 1957 near Natawalu (Well 40, Canning Stock Route, WA) by helicopter pilot James Ferguson.

The boomerang collected by James Ferguson tells a unique story of twentieth century contact. Ferguson collected the boomerang near Natawalu (Well 40) on the Canning Stock Route (WA) in 1957. At the time Ferguson was working as a helicopter pilot contracted by the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources. The boomerang is linked to an encounter between Ferguson and a group of Western Desert people who were living in a traditional manner near Natawalu which led to Ferguson flying a woman and child to Balgo Mission for medical treatment. The encounter is vividly recalled by individual Kukatja people as a defining moment in their personal and collective histories and complements a rich Indigenous history of the Canning Stock Route documented in art and oral tradition. In representing a relatively recent episode of first contact between Indigenous and settler Australians the boomerang further contributes to an understanding of the pattern of colonial settlement in Australia as it unfolded in time and space and its impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Object information

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