State Library of South Australia logo Mountford-Sheard Collection
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Aboriginal boy cutting bark disc
Title : Aboriginal boy cutting bark disc Aboriginal boy cutting bark disc
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Mountford, Charles P. (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976, photographer
Source : PRG 1218/34/1261D
Place Of Creation : Ernabella
Date of creation : 1940
Format : Photograph
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright :

The Library received cultural clearance from the Ara Irititja Project, to display this image. Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia.
This image may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia and the Ara Irititja Project.
To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.

Description :

An aboriginal boy, of Ernabella, cutting a bark disc from a tree for a spear game.

In Brown Men and Red Sand (p. 34), Mountford writes his account of witnessing the bark disc and spear game played by the Ernabella children after a picnic:

When the meal was finished the children started to play. The boys began the spear and disc game. Already some of them had made a number of short spears from a tecoma vine which was growing on the rocky walls of the gorge, while others had cut a disc of thick green bark, about the size of a dinner plate, from a nearby gum tree. The players then formed themselves into two groups and took up positions about fifteen yards apart on the floor of the gorge. As the disc was rolled backward and forward between them, each group in turn tried to spear the target as it passed. There did not seem to be any spirit of competition, either between the boys themselves or the groups; their enjoyment was gained from the success in spearing the bark disc.

The game provided not only enjoyment, but training for the boys, for by it they acquired that quickness of eye and accuracy of aim that would be so essential to them in later life, when they, the boys of to-day, would be the hunters and food-gatherers of to-morrow, and the target not the rolling disc, but the quickly moving animals of the desert.

Related names :

Mountford, Charles P. (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976

Coverage year : 1940
Place : Ernabella
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback
Further reading :

Haagen, Claudia. Bush toys: Aboriginal children at play, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1994: Chapter 4 - Hunting and fighting games

Lamshed, Max. 'Monty' : the biography of C.P. Mountford, [Adelaide] : Rigby, 1972

Mountford, Charles, P. Brown men and red sand : journeyings in wild Australia, London ; Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1981, c1948

Rockchild, Liesl. Bush toys : a living history: a collection of toys from Eastern Arrernte Communities in Central Australia, Alice Springs, N.T.: Liesl Rockchild Arts Management & Design, [1999]

Wallace, Phyl. Children of the desert, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson (Australia), 1973

Internet links :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on