Image 'Jandamarra's boomerang', late 19th century

TLF ID R6694

This is a boomerang painted with three oval markings. On one side is an old label that reads: 'Western Australian Boomerang called Kielie of curious pattern. This boomerang belonged to the black bushranger Pidgeon who was shot by the police on … the Lillemillora Gorge, Leopold Range. Rare Pattern'. The boomerang is 52.5 cm long x 7.4 cm wide and weighs 248 grams.




Educational details

Educational value
  • This boomerang is believed to have belonged to 'Pidgeon' or Jandamarra (1870?-1897), a leader of the Bunuba people in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in the 1890s. The old label on the boomerang calls him a 'black bushranger', but the series of events involving a group he led are now viewed by many as acts of resistance against the takeover of Bunuba country by non-Indigenous pastoralists.
  • In November 1894 Jandamarra's group attacked pastoralists driving cattle into Bunuba country, killing two of them. A series of other attacks and punitive raids by the police followed, but Jandamarra eluded capture. It was not until April 1897 that he was located and shot dead by an Aboriginal tracker named Micki, recruited by police from the Pilbara region.
  • The Victorian Government geologist Edward John Dunn (1844-1937) donated this boomerang to the National Museum of Victoria (now Museum Victoria). How it came into Dunn's possession is unknown, although it could have been abandoned by Jandamarra after a battle at the Two Mile Creek homestead, where police found guns, ammunition and Indigenous weapons.
  • This is an example of an item that presents staff of a museum with frustrating identification difficulties. The old label says this belonged to 'Pidgeon' and the circumstances and location of his death (on 1 April 1897) are correct. Although the label is undated and unsourced, E J Dunn was a meticulous curator, and in the absence of any other known evidence proving or disproving the link with Jandamarra, Museum Victoria can only presume that it is true.
  • This is a beautifully balanced boomerang, striking in its simplicity, with one large oval marking painted with natural pigments at the apex and one on each wing. When spinning in the sky, the ovals on the wing would merge into a single larger circle around the one at the apex.
  • This boomerang appears to be a non-returning or hunting boomerang (also known as a throwing stick or killing boomerang). Non-returning boomerangs are much heavier and larger and have a far less pronounced curve than a returning boomerang. While a returning boomerang can travel distances up to 200 m, it is much more difficult to aim accurately and its impact is negligible compared to a hunting boomerang, which can bring down a kangaroo.
  • English-born E J Dunn was a prominent geologist, and public servant in both Australia and South Africa. The collections of minerals and ethnological artefacts that he assembled in Australia and South Africa ended up at two museums in Britain as well as at Museum Victoria.

Other details

Contributors
  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum Victoria, 2016, except where indicated under Acknowledgements