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Two men standing at a tree with bark removed for canoes
Title : Two men standing at a tree with bark removed for canoes Two men standing at a tree with bark removed for canoes
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Date of creation : ca. 1900
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 105 x 150 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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 :

This item is reproduced with kind permission from Riverland Aboriginal Cultural Association. It may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires written permission from Riverland Aboriginal Cultural Association and the State Library of South Australia.

Description :

Two European men standing by a tree, scarred with past bark removal by Aboriginal people, for making bark canoes, possibly Waikerie or Kroehns Landing.

Aboriginal communities living along the rivers of south-eastern Australia cut the bark from trees to build canoes. This practice was particularly prevalent along the River Murray and its tributaries and has left an abundance of what we now call 'canoe trees'.

The plentiful river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) around the Murray provided perfect bark for the building of canoes. While the bark was still fresh and supple, it was fashioned into a boat-like shape. The canoes were often propelled by the use of a long shaft like a punt.

The canoes did not have a long life as prolonged immersion in water caused the bark sheets to become sodden. For this reason, they were used for fishing and crossing rivers rather than for extended journeys.

Coverage year : 1900
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Bell, Diane. Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin : a world that is, was and will be, North Melbourne, Spinifex Press, 1998

Berndt, Ronald M. and Berndt, Catherine H. with Stanton, John E. A world that was: the Yaraldi of the Murray River and the lakes, South Australia, Vancouver: UBC Press, 1993

Etheridge, R. The dendroglyphs or "carved trees" of New South Wales, Sydney : Dept. of Mines, 1918 (Sydney : William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer)

Edwards, Robert. Aboriginal bark canoes of the Murray Valley, Adelaide: Rigby for the South Australian Museum, 1972.

Jenkin, Graham. Conquest of the Ngarrindjeri, Point McLeay, Raukkan Publishers, 1995, 2nd ed

Kartinyeri, Doreen. Ngarrindjeri Nation: Genealogies of Ngarrindjeri Families, 2006

Taplin, George (ed). The Folklore, manners, customs and languages of the South Australian Aborigines, Bridgewater, 1989, edited by G. Taplin, first published 1879

Weir, Jessica. Murray River country : an ecological dialogue with traditional owners, Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press, 2009

Woolmer, George. Traditional Ngarinyeri people: Aboriginal people of the Murray Mouth Region, Adelaide, Education Department of South Australia, 1986



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