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The First Boomerang


I am writing this as true to memory as I can. I was honoured to be told this by an Aboriginal elder who was dear to me. Sadly, he is now somewhere in the Dreamtime and we miss him and his great knowledge. I was searching online for this story so I could pass it on to my children, but it doesn’t seem to be anywhere, so it seems it falls on me to pass it on. Please do not copy this but you are welcome to link to this page if you want others to read it. If you have been told this story before and wish to contact me or my husband feel free to do so. We would welcome and encourage anyone who has sound knowledge to corroborate or offer anything which might improve the accuracy of my retelling of this important Dreamtime story.

The first Buumerang. A long time ago in the Dreamtime, a young hunter was out very early; the sun had not yet shown his face. He was out to get some water birds for his family - his father was injured and he also had an elderly grandmother as well as a mother and 2 younger sisters to provide food for. The importance of being the food getter for the family was weighing heavily on his shoulders. He had hunted waterbirds many times before but always with his father - not alone. As he approached the water’s edge he could see a lot of birds standing still in the shallow water about 10 steps off shore. He raised his hand and threw his spear, but as he did the birds rose at once and flew a long way down the river. The young man was disappointed and thought hard. His father almost always got a bird, but he remembered it was his job when hunting with his dad to approach the birds from behind and scare the birds towards his father’s spear. The boy walked down beside the river- as he approached the birds, he slowly crept as quietly as he could. He must get a bird now or his family would be hungry today. Again, he raised his hand to throw his spear, but the birds flew off screeching as if to mock the young hunter. He must get food - but the birds had flown a long, long way away. With his head down he followed the birds, and when he was still quite a long way off, suddenly all the birds took off but flew right over him. He wondered happily what great spirit had helped him, as he raised his spear and skilfully caught a fat bird. As it fell, he saw a hawk was chasing the birds for his own breakfast too. He sat quietly and studied this cunning and silent hunter. He wondered how he too could soar and turn birds in towards his spear. The hawk hovered high and with the smallest twitch of his wing suddenly dived with great accuracy and secured his food. The young hunter turned towards home with his prize secured to his belt. It was a long way home and his mind wandered. He played a game of finding shapes in the branches of the trees of his favourite animals. He often found kangaroos and this kept him amused. Today he had found a branch which looked like a man laying down holding a very long spear, and something which looked like an echidna. As he neared home, suddenly he saw the shape of a hawk’s wing in the branches, as clear as anything he had ever noticed before. He looked at it for some time and wondered if it was a sign from the spirit elders. This occupied his mind as he hurried home to present his catch to his mother and father. That night after dinner as he lay beside the fire, he drifted off to sleep and he dreamt of his hawk and wondered if it would be there tomorrow to help him get tomorrow’s food. There was no hawk the next day. The birds mocked him laughing and screeching every time he rose to throw his spear. The young man returned empty handed. He sat disappointed and talked with his injured father, who was wise and explained that even he had returned empty handed from hunting. He asked his son to describe the hawk’s movements and how it had swooped down onto the birds the day earlier. The young man did so and then told him about the sign he had seen in the tree of the shape of a hawk’s wing. The father asked him to go collect the tree branch which looked like the wing. Together they took the branch and made it look exactly like the wing of the hawk and devised a plan to throw it around and behind the birds who would believe it to be a hawk. This would make them fly towards the hunter’s spear. The young man was too excited to sleep and rose especially early the next day. As he travelled to the river, he practiced throwing his hawk’s wing and made it turn in the air. Eventually, he could make it turn and come back to him. Down by the river he could hardly contain his excitement! He was going to outsmart the birds who had mocked him the day before. Using all his cunning, the excited hunter calmed his breathing and crept slowly to the water’s edge. He silently threw his hawk’s wing as he rose, and the birds leapt into the air, but soon the wing was behind them and they turned towards the armed hunter who skilfully downed his catch! At the same time, his hawk’s wing landed just a few steps from him. He could hardly wait to tell his family of today’s success! On the way home, he threw and threw his wing trying different ways until he could land it some 20 paces in front of him so he could continue walking after throwing it, and could pick it up without stopping. He thought this would be useful for hunting to scare up birds in scrub land. The word for Hawk is BUNDA The word for Spear is GUNANG. Perhaps the first BOOMERANG was called “BUNDAGUNANG”.

My name is Bulku meaning little mouse. I am from the Dharug land. Parramatta area a suburb of Sydney Australia..