Sharing a Collection
"…if you ever come to a place where you see things that belong to our traditional owner group speak up and be proud about it."
- Tim Chatfield, Chairperson/CEO, Martang Registered Aboriginal Party.
The Dunkeld Museum has a variety of Aboriginal artefacts including a message stick, boomerangs, spears and spear throwers, a parrying shield and a fighting club. In this video, members of the Aboriginal community discuss how the items were used, their significance to the community and the sense of identity and pride that the objects give them.
The Dunkeld & District Historical Museum and members of the local Aboriginal communities have worked together to research and register the Dunkeld Aboriginal Object Collection. The partnership has improved interpretation and presentation of Aboriginal perspectives of the district’s cultural heritage; ensured that Dunkeld Museum meets its legal obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006; and improved access to the collection for Aboriginal people and the general community.
-We have three stone axes. One we know has come from Matt William up in the Grampians, one's come from Matt William near Lara, and the third one we believe has come from somewhere over near Casterton, indicating that the tribes moved fairly frequently and would trade woods and things with the other local tribes.
-What I've got in my hand is, it's a green stone axe. It's pretty common throughout the western districts. It's been used a lot for trade, but more importantly it's an object that's been grinded on each side to form an axe shape for cutting certain things. So it was really important in aboriginal lifestyle, especially through Djab wurrung country. A lot of these objects you'll find around a lot of waterways, also campsites.
-Here we have a grinding stone, which was also used in two facets. One side was for grinding the seeds for your flour and that, and the other side, which was also used for your fire. So the little indent there, they would put the main stick in there for friction, they'd put bark or whatever, and then in this part, they would fill it with extra grass, so the-- As you can see the little leverage there would go down the channel, and then they'd start to blow on it, and then they'd start their fie.
Here we have a metal artifact, and its called a bullroarer. This was mainly used like a telephone. It was swung over the head. They'd have a string. It would be swung over the head, and it could be heard for miles. So the people like say down the road would hear it and they would say, oh, there's a meeting on tonight.
-Until the contact period, most of the tools that were made had no decoration on them at all. They were plain, pure, simple, made to do the job, and not to be some sort of a show piece.
-On my left hand is your normal hunting spear. It was mainly just used for hunting and nothing else, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, whatever was about at the time. And this one here was used for your war, because of the barbs on it. So when this penetrated into the person, there's only one way it'll go, straight through you.
EILEEN: The shield, for example, has got all this lovely work done to it, but the work's certainly not going to stop the spear from coming at you, you know.
-The angle club had two purposes, one was for digging, and the other one was for inflicting pain on your mortal enemy.
Now, the way it works is the shield here, as you see, was used for parrying. OK. So if you could not get around your enemy, you would go for the hand, or if he was across the top like that, you'd come over the top into the head. If he was trying underneath, you'd come underneath with the angle club. And that was mainly light, the shield was light, because you also had your spears with you and your stone axe when you're in war.
-We're very fortunate to have a message stick. Because Ramsay didn't understand the tradition of the aboriginal people in that the message stick should have been burnt in the fire when it arrived. And so we have a traditional message stick that is marked with Bobby's markings.
-This is what you need to get from one boundary to another, into someone else's country. If you look closely, you'll see the name of the person, in this case who made it, which is we know is old Bobby. And also it is the marking of his mob, his clan, his tribe, as you can lightly see. So he would need this to go from the Djab wurrung country to say, Gunditjmara or if he wanted to go further on the other lands with the markings on it, the name.
Ol' Bobby he would wait on the boundary for the neighboring tribe to come over, then he would pass the message stick onto them, and they would look at the markings on it. They would know who's his clan, what his blood grouping is, his kinship structure, and his name, most of all. So they knew he was passing through their country, and they would return it to him for safe passage, so if he went on to the next mob, he would have to show them the same.
-I certainly hope that it would evolve to a point where-- maybe the sharing of collections. So maybe once we have our center built, that we could exchange with the museums or keeping places.
-Certainly as an individual, as an aboriginal man, I'm very proud to tell my children and their children to say, listen, be proud of who you are and if you ever come to a place where you see things that belong to our traditional honor group speak up and be proud about it. I think that's very important. Be proud of who we are and be proud of what we've got, and be able to share and pass on. Because it's part of their history, it's part of their learning.