Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


Gararra (fishing) spear with three wooden prongs that have shell points - made by Rod Mason


Gararra (fishing) spear with three wooden prongs that have shell points - made by Rod Mason

Object information

Physical description

A fishing spear, with three wooden prongs each with a mussel shell point. The prongs are fixed in place with kangaroo sinew and gum. Each of the tips has a single barb made from mussel shell attached with gum.

Statement of significance

The Rodney Mason collection consists of two fishing spears (garrara), and samples of grass tree resin, a mussel shell spear barb, sinew fibre and string fibre.The spears are examples of the types of fishing spears used by Aboriginal people along coastal NSW, both before and after the arrival of British settlers. Mason's family has made and used such spears for generations. They were created in response to similar spears collected by James Cook in 1770, now held in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

These spears are significant for two key reasons: they are well provenanced contemporary examples of NSW coastal Aboriginal fishing technology, and they are a tangible engagement with older historical Aboriginal material held in museums. Rod Mason made these two spears, assisted by his uncle, Shayne Williams, in September 2011 at Cook?s Landing Site on the southern headland of Botany Bay as part of the Encounters project. Mason and Williams? families have long associations with the La Perouse Aboriginal community and are recognised as significant members of their communities.

Object information

Back to top