I know the feeling and I think that is what has attracted most of us to the boomerang. I have been making and throwing boomerangs now for 40 years. I still remember the first time I saw one thrown.
My wife and I were at a birthday party close to a park when I saw at a distance some guys throwing a boomerang. I eventually made my way over to them and introduced myself. My first question was where did they get it. One of the guys spoke up and said his ship stopped off in Sydney, Australia on thier way back from Viet Nam.
I was mezmerised by it's flight and looked it over trying to figure out the airfoils so that I could make my own. My first boom was made at work with a hack saw blade wrapped with cloth to form a handle cutting thru 3 ply plywood and using files to make the airfoil. One of my co- workers chided me and said if your so confident about this boomerang go throw it out over the water and if it works you get it back.
I took him up and about 4 of us made our way to the back of the chemical plant. I was supposed to walk up on a levee and throw out over the water but because of security driving around I was hesistant and told the guys I would throw from the ground level out over the levee.
The guy who challenged me stayed next to a big tank drinking a cup of coffee with one foot on the tank to steady himself. I walked out and threw but the boomerang went to low and hit the levee bounced straight up and them came back like a buzz saw causing my challenger to jump out of the way and spilling his coffee. My boomerang broke hitting the tank but I couldn't have asked for a more memorable ending to my first toss.
I too am intriqued with the flight of long distance booms. It is truly amazing to witness the flight of a boomerang that goes out so far that you can not see it for a time and then have it hone in on the base line.
They are truly amazing!
Trapped in Arnhemland
This story really started around 39 years ago. In 1968 I saw a boomerang being flown and was immediately mesmerized by its flight. From that point on I was on a mission to learn as much as I could about this simple yet complex flying piece of wood. During the ensuing years I have made hundreds of boomerangs and gone to World Cup Boomerang competitions and competed in Long Distance. My collection has grown mainly by trading with other makers around the world and presently has taken on a new direction. I now appreciate the throw stick even more that the returning boomerang. The throw stick was used to collect food, start fires, as a digging implement, musical instrument, and in our vernacular would be called the Swiss army knife of the Aboriginals. Without this one tool life would have been much harder to endure. It takes a lot more skill to make a throw stick than it does a returning boomerang and throw sticks are made to go in a straight line and not return.
My journey to Australia was planned a couple of years ago and during May and June of 2006 finally came to pass. I made most of the arrangements thru the internet. It lasted a month and started out in Sydney, where I spent 3 days visiting museums, China town, Kings Cross where I spent time at the Boomerang School, Circular Quay and many shops trying out didgeridoos.
I then turned to the Northern Territory and Darwin where I went bush with Aboriginals for a week to make didgeridoos and receive instruction on how to play in their style.This is where I was trapped in Arnhemland due to Cyclone Monica. Geoff Toll my Australian guide met myself and a lady from Switzerland in Darwin and we loaded up a Toyoto land Cruiser and took off for Aboriginal lands. We crossed the East Alligator River by driving thru it (no bridges). We drove on for quite a ways and started to encounter an area that was devastated. Trees were down across the road and the landscape looked as tho a massive bomb had leveled everything in sight.
We drove around where we could, moved what we could but in the end it was useless. We made the decision to backtrack and recross the East Alligator River and try and find another way to go. Upon reaching the river the Rangers on the other side had closed the gate on the dirt road because the river had risen too high. Now we were trapped on Aboriginal lands we no place to go.
We had earlier passed an Aboriginal settlement and asked permission from the head man to stay until the river went back down. They provided us a place to stay and the next night invited us to eat with them. Food was delicious. Our hosts found out that I threw boomerangs and asked if I would put on a demo the next morning at the footy field.
The next morning I showed up with high winds, no rubber bands or tape to help tame the wind. I finally managed to figure out the best throw and the throw went good. Some Aboriginal kids were watching me and I motioned them over and taught them how to throw. We could not get to the Aboriginal settlement we were originally going to so Geoff called a pilot he new and he went to the area where they lived and brought them to us. We camped for a week and made didgeridoos starting out with termite hollowed logs bark and all.
Upon my return to Darwin I spent another week visiting Kakadu and Litchfield Parks. While in Darwin I threw boomerangs each evening at the war memorial next to the bay. On three different occasions I had someone ask me to teach them how to throw. All three turned out to be from Germany. The first was Chris a backpacker and then Debbie another backbacker and finally Volker. From Darwin I flew to Alice Springs. In Alice Springs my journey took me to the Olgas, Uluru, Kings Canyon and the McDonnell Ranges. After Alice Springs I flew to Cairns before departing for the U.S.A. To keep the cost down I spent most nights in backpacker accommodations and did my own laundry by hand and dried them on a line overnight. While out in the bush I learned to do the Australian stomp ( a very unique way of washing clothes). My knowledge of life in the bush has been greatly enhanced along with the challenges that face a culture that has been caught in between a modern society and 40,000 years of history. The Aboriginals of Australia have the distinction of being the oldest culture in the world along with some of the most unique wildlife on planet earth.