Aboriginal hunting by Matthew Burns via Flickr.com
As with many other things like food,
and the local culture,
Aboriginal hunting techniques depended on
where in Australia the tribe lived. Because Australia is a large
country covering various climatic regions from inland deserts to
tropical rainforests and snowy mountains, the conditions and resources
were very different for different tribes. The tribes in deserts
for example hunted large kangaroos and
emus, while coastal communities ate a lot of seafood, and also large
marine animals like turtles,
dugongs and whales.
Coastal vs Inland
In the inland tribes,
Australian indigenous people were very clever animal trackers. They
could tell from the grass where large animals had passed recently and
in what direction they had gone. In these areas men often hunted in
groups when they had to kill large animals. They often used hunting boomerangs
to damage the knees of kangaroos,
and cut through the neck of emus.
In the coastal areas, much of hunting was
done in the water. There, indigenous people were very clever using
harpoons and spears when killing dugongs and whales
but also fish and other smaller sea animals.
To let Aboriginal People to live in their traditional way, they are
still allowed to catch these animals and do some whaling. This is of
course nothing like the scale of commercial whaling
that once was going on.
Aboriginal people were traditionally very sustainable and well aware of
the fact that resources wouldn’t last if hunted too much or in wrong
seasons. After all, they could live in Australia for tens of thousands
of years and make sure the food resources would always last.
Women in Aboriginal Hunting and Gathering
Women gathered small animals, seafood, insects,
mushrooms and plant food. And just because gathering is physically less
demanding, didn't mean
that women didn't need techniques, skills and knowledge. In fact, in
many ways they needed to know more than their men.
Firstly, they needed to know where to find the bush tucker. Apart from
the plants, they also knew how to extract sugar, salt and other spices.
Secondly, a lot of Australian plants are poisonous so extensive
knowledge of plants was needed. They also knew in which poisonous
plants the poisons could be removed, and how to do it.
And finally, just like with hunting, they knew how to collect
sustainably. There were cetrain seasons to collect and avoid collecting
each species to make sure the supplies lasted.
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