Australian Aborigines manufactured a range of tools, utensils, fighting weapons, and hunting weapons made from the available resources of wood, bone and shell.
Wooden tools and utensils included:
- Chisels and scrapers (stone pieces) hafted to long wooden handles. (See the section on stone tools.)
- Women’s digging sticks made with a range of shapes and sizes.
- A woman’s spade-like implement was used in the south-east of the country.
- Wooden carriers. (See section on containers).
- Wooden spindles of crossed sticks were used to spin human and animal-fur string.
A Wangkangurru man spinning string with a wooden cross-piece spindle. The fibres were obtained by smashing up dry grass stalks. 1920s.
- Fire-making kits. These varied throughout the country. Often two sticks were rubbed together, or one was drilled into the other, to create hot embers. Sometimes a boomerang was rubbed across a softwood shield to make embers. (See Making Fire in the Australian Aboriginal Culture Series published by David M. Welch.)
- Bone tools include awls to pierce holes in soft objects to allow them to be sewn or attached with string. Kangaroo and possum jaws were used as engravers, and fibulae were used as pressure flaking tools to press on the edge of a stone blade and produce a sharp irregular edge. The scapulae (shoulder blades) of animals were sometimes used as scrapers.
- Shell tools and utensils. Small flat marine and freshwater shells were used as palettes for mixing ochre with water to make paints. Large marine shells were used as water carriers. In coastal areas, sea shells were often fashioned into knives and scrapers in place of stone tools.
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