Digging stick

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Registration number
Item name
Digging stick 
Indigenous name
Associated cultural group
Australia > Australia > Queensland > Cape York region > Aurukun
Acquisition date
January 01, 1950 
Acquisition method
Foundation Donation from Aurukun Mission 
Raw material
wood, ochre
H: W: L: D: Circum:


Shaft of wood, 1450mm long, blunt at one end and pointed at the other. Appears to be red ochred all over except for worn point, and with white ochre for approx. 90mm along the blunt end. Bears barely legible writing, white on the red ochre, towards the blunt end: Yam stick Au[ruku]n.

Research notes

The Foundation Donation comprises the items from L. P. Winterbotham's personal collection, which were donated to the University of Queensland in 1948 and form the basis of the Anthropology Museum.

Drawing from fieldwork between 1927 and 1934, Ursula McConnel noted "Women use long hardwood fighting sticks usually made of acacia wood and painted red with white points, and are supported by "seconds" in a fight, who use short sticks, similarly painted, to hit back the opponents' spears" (1953, pg 11). It was identified as a yam stick by the missionary who donated it in the 1940s.
Reference: McConnel, U (1953) Native Arts and Industries on the Archer, Kendall and Holroyd Rivers, Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland, Records of the South Australian Museum Vol 11, No 1

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