Unknown Artist
A Large Museum Quality Woomera, late 19th century

late 19th Century
in fine condition, of leaf form, stone axe carved, designed with tightly incised working of a line and wave motif, with evidence of early ochre. The surface & handle of this important object displays a deep rich dark chocolate aged patina
81 cm long x 12 cm wide
with stand

Private Collection, Sydney

A Woomera is a spear throwing device used as an extension of a man’s hand, enabling a spear to travel at a greater speed and force than possible with only the arm.

Records show that the implement began to be used about 5,000 years ago, although the Mungo Man remains from at least 43,000 years ago show severe osteoarthritis in the right elbow associated with the use of a Woomera.

Like spears and boomerangs, woomeras were traditionally used only by men. The woomera is held in one hand while the other hand places the butt of the spear on the woomera’s hook; the hollow curved shape facilitates this alignment without looking. The woomera effectively lengthens the thrower’s arm, greatly increasing the velocity of the spear. Correcting for the game animal’s lateral dodging is accomplished by tilting the wing-shape woomera during the throw for last-second corrections. The kinetic energy of a spear launched from a woomera has been calculated as four times that of an arrow launched from a compound bow.

This woomera was made by an important traditional senior man, of a high degree ceremonial status. This woomera could have been made for trade ceremonial exchange item.

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