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The Hunting Boomerang

Most people today know the boomerang only as a light weight flying stick of Australian origin that returns safely to its thrower, and which has no utility for hunting whatsoever.  Historically, however, returning boomerangs were a very limited variation on a hefty and deadly straight flying weapon found not just throughout Australia but on at least 5 continents around the world.  Large, straight flying "hunting boomerangs" were used historically to deliver bone shattering blows and hunt game at ranges out to at least 80 meters, 87 yards and even well beyond this.    


The varieties of this weapon are numerous globally.  They originate from no single culture but are shared by all as a common earth skill of our ancestors, appearing even as inspiration for characters in ancient alphabets.  Many regional designs are unsurpassed in both practicality and beauty, and yet modern researchers still struggle to decode the physics that make them defy gravity in flight.  


In Australia, hunting boomerangs were developed to their highest refinement anywhere.  With hundreds of aboriginal dialects used, they called their variety of long range hovering missiles by numerous names. including kylie, aly iripakerte, alye, karli, barikan, mangaburunya, eraka, gaigai, gurrubadu, ilye, kwangenry, kali, kayle, kurrpartu, rilewe, ulperrenye, waridlia, wirlki, belo, irigili, kaile, kaili, munartajartu, pirrkala, wallanu, warlanu, warraka, and many more.…

“Boomerang” was the first popular term adopted from the Aboriginals by the colonists for these weapons and it remains so today.  It was originally popularized by Captain Phillip King (around the year 1825).  It seems, historically, however, that the most popular Aboriginal term used across large areas of the continent was “Kylie” (and variants).    

Some returning boomerangs were actually used for hunting as well, but not in the way that the straight flying boomerangs were.  Hunters found that returning boomerangs could be used as decoys to imitate birds of prey and thus keep game birds grounded, where they could more easily be hunted by other means.