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aboriginal watercraft, 50,000 bp 

The Traditional Watercraft of the Australian Aboriginals.
Introduction
The traditional water craft of the Australian Aborigines fall into three main groups; swimming or riding floats, rafts, and bark canoes.
While at European contact, dugout canoes were in use on the northern coasts, these were a comparatively recent introduction, influenced by contact with Indonesian and Melanesian mariners.

The basic
swimming or riding float was used as a personal floatation device when crossing large stretches of water, or sometimes as a platform for fishing.
Crucially, these craft were instrumental in the development of swimming, commonly practised both on the coast and on inland waters of Australia.
In the temperate zones, swimming was a standard skill of indigenous mariners, and the accepted method of self-rescue in the case of misadventure.
James Hornell, in his definitive work on the origins of watercraft (1946), noted that the surf board of Hawaii was a direct descendant of the ancient log swimming float.

The raft, the combination of several riding floats, was generally used for the occasional transport of multiple persons or goods.
The most significant occasion was around 50,000 thousand years ago, when Aboriginals
first navigated the straits between South East Asia and Australia, a distance of perhaps 90 kilometres, and the first definitive benchmark in maritime history.

V
ariations of the bark canoe were widespread across the eastern half of the continent, with the most simple designs found in the inland of the south and more complex models on the northern coasts and islands.
Although commonly called a bark or reed canoe, the catamaran of Tasmania was a specialised version of the raft, with ancient parallels on the Nile and across the Pacific.
Source Documents Links
References From Float to Surf Board

Source Documents
The first entry is D.S. Davidson's Chronology of Australian Watercraft, which is highly detailed, erudite, and a rare overview of the diverse range of aboriginal watercraft.
Thereafter, the entries in chronological order.


1935
D.S. Davidson: Chronology of Australian Watercraft

Text and illustrations from Journal of the Polynesian Society Volume 44, Thomas Avery &​ Sons, New Plymouth, NZ, 1935.

1700 William Dampier: Voyage Around the World.
Extracts from Voyage Around the World, 1670, and A Voyage to New Holland, 1729.

1770 James Cook: HMB Endeavour.
Extracts from the Journals and Notes by James Cook, Joseph Banks, and Sidney Parkinson.

Aboriginal rafts and canoes, from 1770.
Images of Aboriginal rafts and canoes.

1788 Watkin Tench: Aboriginals of Port Jackson.
Extracts from
Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay,
J. Debrett, London, 1789.

1788 William Bradley:
Eora (Aboriginal) Canoes at Spring Cove.
Extract from The Ladies Kept Their Distance, in Tim Flannery: The Birth of Sydney, Melbourne, 1999. 


1797-1892 Michael Organ (ed.): Canoes of SE Australia.
Extracts from A Documentary History of the South Coast Aborigines, 1770 - 1850, Wollongong University, 1990.

1802 Louis de Freycinet  : Canoes of Tasmania.
Extracts from
Voyage de decouvertes aux terres australes. Navigation et Geographie, Imprimerie Royale, Paris, 1815.


1818
Phillip Parker King: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes.
Extracts and illustrations from
Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia,1818 and 1822, Volume 1, John Murray, London,1827.


1826 Dumont d'Urville: Voyage of the Astrolabe.
Descriptions and illustrations
from Two Voyages to the South Seas, translated by Helen Rosenman, Melbourne University Press, 1987.


1831 G. A. Robinson: The Aboriginal Rafts, Northern Tasmania.
Printed in The Hobart Town Courier, 22 January 1931, page 4.


1834 George Augustus Robinson: Swimming and Catamarans, Tasmania.
Extracts from
Journals, 1934.

Emily Caswell: Aboriginals at Port Stevens,1841.

Quoted in
Berres Hoddle Colville: Robert Hoddle, Pioneer Surveyor 1794-1881, Research Pub., Melbourne, 2004, pages 254-256.


1842 J. Lort Stokes: Swimming, Floats and Rafts, North West Australia.
Extracts from Discoveries in Australia, T. and W. Boone, London, 1846.


1850 McGillvray and Brierly: Catamarans, New Guinea.
Extracts and illustrations from
Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, T. and W. Boone, London, 1852.


1862 SMH CorrespondentsCanoes in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 1862, page 3.


1863 James Martin: Rafts in NW Australia.
Extracts from Explorations in North-Western Australia, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 1865.

1878 Robert Brough Smyth: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes
Extracts and illustrations from The Aborigines of Victoria, Volume II, Government of Victoria, London, 1878.

1899
Henry Ling Roth:
Rafts, Canoes and Swimming, Tasmania.

Extract from The Aborigines of Tasmania, F. King & Sons, England, 1899.


1905 N.W. Thomas : Australian Canoes and Rafts.
Extract from The  Journal  of the Anthropological Institute  of G.B and  Ireland, Volume 35, January - June 1905,  pages  56-79.

1907 R. H. Matthews : Aboriginal Navigation.

Extract from Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of N.S.W., Volume XLI, Government Printer,Sydney, 1907.

1908
W. E. Roth : Australian Canoes and Rafts.
Extract from Man, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London, 1908, Volume 8, Number 88, pages 160-161.

1930 Donald Thompson: Arnhem Land.
Extracts from
Donald Thompson in Arnhem Land, Nicolas Peterson (ed), The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University, 2003.

1935
D.S. Davidson: Chronology of Australian Watercraft.
Extracts and illustrations from Journal of the Polynesian Society Volume 44, Thomas Avery &​ Sons, New Plymouth, NZ, 1935.


1946 James Hornell: Swimming Floats and Rafts.

Extracts and illustrations from Water Transport - Origins and Early Evolution, CUP, Cambridge,1946, pages 1 to 4.

1972
Robert Edwards: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes.
Extracts, illustrations from Aboriginal Bark Canoes of the Murray Valley, South Australian Museum, Rigby, , 1972.


1981 Sean McGrail : Rafts, Canoes and Boats.
Extracts from
Rafts, Boats and Ships - From Prehistoric Times to the Medieval Era, National Maritime Museum, London, 1981.

1993
Kate Khan: Catalogue of the W. E. Roth Collection of Aboriginal Artefacts from North Queensland. [Volume 1]
Australian Museum

2005 Debora Smith (Science Editor):
Earth's first beachcombers ended up in Australia.
Reporting research developments published in Science, 13 May 2005 in SMH, Weekend Edition, May 14-15, 2005, page 13.

2000 Rupert Gerritsen: Aboriginal Fish Hooks in Southern Australia.
[National Library of Australia, 2000?]

2005 Andrew Long:
Aboriginal Scarred Trees in NSW.
NSW Office of Environment and Conservation, 2005.

2007 Martin Thomas (ed): Culture in Translation-The Anthropological Legacy of R.H. Mathews.
Australian National University.

Useful Links
Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney NSW 2010
Indigenous Bark-Canoe from Northern NSW

Michael Organ, UOW:
Australian Aboriginal Canoes

Michael Organ, UOW:
Astrolabe, Jervis Bay, 1826

Australian National Maritime Museum

Bark canoe building at Bents Basin   - NPWS Sydney Aboriginal Community Cultural Gathering (2014)
Nawi canoe building workshop     - Koori students and Lawrence Hargrave School , Warwick Farm (2014)
Building bark canoe models     - Alexandria Park Community School (2012)

Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Corporation, Bundanon, and ANMM:

On how to make a bark canoe
Bundanon_nawi_guide.pdf
Synopsis:
Historians Jim Walliss and instigator Diego Bonetto collaborate with artists Steve Russell and Noel Lonesborough from Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Corporation to tackle the challenge of making a traditional (Aboriginal) Jervis Bay canoe from the bark of a stringybark tree sourced on the Bundanon property.
The canoe was constructed in eight hours following clear directions provided by Maritime Architect Davis Payne from the National Maritime Museum, and contemporary marine artist James Dodd who had constructed two canoes in 2010.
The Siteworks bark canoe was made from traditional materials (with a little help from a Bunnings vice), including string from the stringybark tree and beeswax and resin from the grass tree.
It was then launched as part of Siteworks 2011 on the Shoalhaven River.


Rex Greeno, Family, and National Museum of Australia
The making of a Tasmanian bark canoe

Members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and the Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Aboriginal Rolled Bark Canoe

Manganinnie (Film, Tasmania,1980)
https://www.wideangle.org.au/manganinnie-1980

Tawatja: Ningher Canoe
The story behind building a traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal canoe Dark Mofo 2014
https://ninghercanoe.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/canoe-masters/

Museum Victoria
(Yarra Valley)
Aboriginal canoe, 1850.


Jim Poulter
(Yarra Valley, Victoria)
How to build a bark canoe
A Summary of Historical and Contemporary Documentation in making a Koorong Paper presented at Wurundjeri Tribe Council, Koorong Committee Workshop, May 2012.

Aboriginal Scarred Tree - Bark Canoe (Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxFjWb1VIrY

National Museum of Australia (Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Dr William Warner collection.)
Sewn Bark Canoe

Australian Screen
(Northern Territory)
Balanda and the bark canoes
Rolf de Heer oversees the construction of swamp canoes that will be used in the film Ten Canoes (2006),

Moogy's Yuki [Moogy's Bark Canoe], (South Australia)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP3-8x_s-Xw

State Library of Western Australia (One Arm Point, Kimberley)
Bardi Aborigines constructing a traditional raft,1981

State Library of Western Australia (Frank Bunney collection)
Aboriginal man on a raft spearing fish

National Library of Australia - Western Australian Museum
Double raft by Tom Thomas, Dampier Land Penisular, 1975

Patrick Sullivan:
Saltwater, Freshwater and Yawuru Social Organisation (Western Australia)
Chapter 6, in Peterson and Rigsby: Customary Marine Tenure in Australia, University of Sydney (1998).

Keith Vincent Smith: Mari nawi ("big canoes"): Aboriginal voyagers in Australia's maritime history, 1788-1855.
PhD. Thesis, Macquarie University, Australia, 2008.

Wikipedia
Aboriginal Bark Canoes
Aboriginal_Dugout_Canoes

NSW Department of Environment and Heritage
Aboriginal People and Cultural Life.

Trove
Aboriginal man in canoe, 1887. (State Library Victoria)

Ida Lee: The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson (Project Gutenberg)
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/e00066.html#ch02

References

Baillie, Allan:The First Voyage
Puffin Books, Australia, 2014.
[Junior fiction]
This work is only included here only for the opportunity to firmly suggest that, even with the wide latitude usually accorded to works of fiction, it should be avoided.

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/


Barlow, Alex: Aboriginal Technology: Watercraft,
Macmillan Education Australia,1994.
[Junior publication]

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/11066240 

Brierly, Oswald W.B.:
New Guinea coast and Cape York area during the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, ca. 1849-1850]


State Library of NSW
http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=421776

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1850 McGillvray and Brierly: Catamarans, New Guinea.


Burnum, Burnum (edited by David Stewart):
Burnum Burnum's Aboriginal Australia : A
Traveller's Guide.
Angus &​ Robertson, North Ryde, 1988.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/45246864


Cruse, Beryl, Steward, Liddy and Norman, Sue:
Mutton fish: the surviving culture of Aboriginal people and abalone on the south coast of New South Wales
.
Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2005.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/15239200


Dampier, William :
A Voyage to New Holland.
James and John Knapton, Crown in St. Paul's Church-Yard, London. 1729.

Internet Archive
https://archive.org/details/avoyagetonewholl15675gut


Dampier, William :
A Voyage to New Holland.
Edited by James Spencer.
Nonsuch Publishing,.
The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 2QG, 2006.

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/14396843

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1700 William Dampier: Voyage Around the World.

Davidson, Daniel Sutherland:
The Chronology of Australian Watercraft.
 Journal of the Polynesian Society
Volume 44 (extracts)
Thomas Avery &​ Sons,
New Plymouth, New Zealand, 1935.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/31577127

First published as:
Davidson, D. S.: The Chronology of Australian Watercraft.
Journal of the Polynesian Society
New Plymouth, New Zealand, XLIV, No. 1, 1935, pages 1-16, 69-84, and 137-153
.

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1932 D.S. Davidson: Chronology of Australian Watercraft.



Dumont D'Urville: Two Voyages to the South Seas
Translated by Helen Rosenman
Melbourne University Press, 1987.

Volume 1:
Astrolabe 1826-1829
Introductions by Helen Rosenman
Chapter VIII: Westernport to Port Jackson
and Sojorn in that Port.
Chapter X: The Natives of New South Wales

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/12818593

For extracts and illustrations, see:
Dumont d'Urville : Voyage of the Astrolabe, 1826.



Dunmore, John: From Venus to Antarctica : the life of Dumont D'Urville.
Exisle Publishing, Auckland, New Zealand, 2007.



Dyer, Colin: The French Explorers and the Aboriginal Australians 1772-1839.
University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland, 2005.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/9626865
Selections quoted in
1802
Louis de Freycinet  : Canoes of Tasmania.


Edwards, Robert: Aboriginal Bark Canoes of the Murray Valley.
South Australian Museum, Rigby, 1972.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/21980480

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1972
Robert Edwards: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes.

..

Flood, Josephine:
Archaeology of the Dreamtime : the story of prehistoric Australia and its people.
Collins, Sydney, revised edition 2004 (first published 1983).

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/5518084


Garran, Andrew (editor):
Picturesque Atlas of Australasia.
Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, Sydney, 1886-1888.
Illustrated under the supervision of Frederic B. Schell, assisted by leading colonial and American artists.
With over eight hundred engravings on wood.

Published to coincide with celebrations of the centennial (1788-1888), Picturesque Atlas of Australasia was one of the most significant cultural projects in 19th-century Australia.
The project was the initiated by an American company, who 
established a separate publishing house, hence the contribution of "leading ... American artists."
The book was prepared by a host of writers, artists, academics, and politicians and the 1100+ engravings on steel and wood were among the finest quality engravings produced anywhere at this time.

Several images from the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia are reproduced in:
Aboriginal rafts and canoes, from 1770.



Gatty, Harold:
The Raft Book. Lore of the Sea and Sky
George Grady, New York, 1943.

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/8725426

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1943 Harold Gatty: The Raft Book.


Horden, Marsden: King of the Australian Coast.
The Work of Phillip Parker King in the Mermaid and Bathurst, 1817-1822.

Melbourne University Press, 1997.

Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/45158031




1946
Hornell, James:
Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1946. 


For extracts, see:
1946 James Hornell : Water Transport.
 
 

Online at books.google.com
http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Water_transport.html.


King, Phillip Parker:
Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts ofAustralia
Performed Between the Years 1818 and 1822, Volume 1
John Murray, London,1827.
Australian Fascimile Editions Number 30.
Libraries Board of South Australia, Adelaide, 1969.

googlebooks.com
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=YocrAAAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s



For extracts and illustrations, see:
1818 Phillip Parker King: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes.


MacGillivray, John (1822-1867):
Narrative of the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, commanded by the late Captain Owen Stanley, during the years 1846-1850 : including discoveries and surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade Archipelago, etc.; to which is added the account of Mr. E. B. Kennedy's expedition for the exploration of the Cape York Peninsula / published under the sanction of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
T. and W. Boone, London, 1852, Volume 1.

Project Gutenberg
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/e00031.html

Internet Archive
https://archive.org/details/narrativeofthevo12433gut


For extracts and illustrations, see:
1850 McGillvray and Brierly: Catamarans, New Guinea.


McGrail, Sean:
The Ship [series]
Rafts, Boats and Ships - From Prehistoric Times to the Medieval Era.
National Maritime Museum
London, 1981.

Trove

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1981 Sean McGrail : Rafts, Canoes and Boats.


Martin James: Explorations in North-Western Australia.
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 1865,
Volume XXXV, pages 237-289.
Communicated by the Governor of Western Australia, through the Colonial Office.
For extracts see:
1863 James Martin: Rafts in NW Australia.

www.googlebooks- Ned Overton,
May 2014.
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks14/1402201h.html#ch-01

Muekee, Stephen, and Shoemaker, Adam:
Aboriginal  Australians - First Nations of an Ancient Continent
Thames and Hudson, London, 2004.


Trove
http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/44897301

Mulvaney, D. J.: The Prehistory of Australia
Rev. ed.

Penguin Books,
Harmondsworth, England ; Ringwood, Victoria, 1975.



Organ, Michael: A Documentary History of the South Coast Aborigines, 1770 - 1850
Including a Chronological Bibliography 1770-1990

Aboriginal Education Unit Wollongong University, 1990.

Trove

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/20873445

For extracts, see:
1797-1892 Michael Organ (ed.): Canoes of SE Australia.

Oxley, John: Journals of two expeditions into the interior of New South Wales, London. 1820, pages 332-333.
Pearson, Joseph: Relationships of the Tasmanian Canoe-Raft
Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1938, Hobart, 1939, pages 221-5, 3 figures.[unseen]
Radcliffe-Brown, A R: Australian Rafts in Man Vol 16 No.4 (1916)
Rienits, Rex and Thea: The Voyages of Captain Cook, Paul Hamlyn, London, Sydney, 1968.

Roberts, Alice:
The Incredible Human Journey
BBC - Bloomsbury Publishing
36 Solo  Square, London, WID 3QY, 2009.
Illustrations by Alice Roberts.
Maps by Dave Stevens.
Hard cover, 376 pages, colour plates, black and white illustrations and maps, References, Acknowledgements, Index.
Review.
A review and reappraisal of the latest available archaeological and genetic evidence of the population of the earth by human beings critically implies that a large portion was accomplished by coastal movement, and subsequently along river systems.
Although the book does not directly deal with the exploration of the Pacific by the peoples of Polynesia, clearly the man's relationship with the marine environment is long standing.
Item courtesy of Shoalhaven City Library.

For extracts, see:
2009 Alice Roberts: The Human Journey.

Roberts, Kenneth G., Shackleton, Philip:The Canoe - A History of the Craft from Panama to the Arctic.
MacMillan of Canada, Toronto, 1983
.

Roth, Henry Ling:
[assisted by Marion E. Butler , James Backhouse Walker, John George Garson, Edward Burnett Taylor]
The Aborigines of Tasmania
F. King & Sons, England, 1899.

Internet Archive
http://archive.org/details/aboriginestasma00tylogoog



For extracts and illustrations, see:
1899
Henry Ling Roth: Rafts, Canoes and Swimming, Tasmania.

Also note;
Transport and trade / by Walter E. Roth
Sydney : [Australian Museum], 1910
19 p., [7] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
Series: North Queensland ethnography: bulletin ; no.14

Caption title. "From Records of the Australian Museum, Vol.viii, no.1." - Cover.

Call Number: N 507 AUS v. 8.

Smyth, Robert Brough
The Aborigines of Victoria: With Notes Relating to the Habits of the Natives .
Volume II
The Government of Victoria.
Government Printer, London, 1878.

Internet Archive
https://archive.org/details/aboriginesvicto00smytgoog

For extracts and illustrations, see:
1878 Robert Brough Smyth: Aboriginal Rafts and Canoes

Stokes, J. Lort, Stanley., Owen:
Discoveries in Australia, with an account of the coasts and rivers explored and surveyed during the voyage  of H.M.S. Beagle in the years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43, by command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty: also, a Narrative of Captain Owen Stanley's visits to the islands in the Arafura Sea.
Volumes One and Two.
T. and W. Boone, London, 1846.

Project Gutenberg
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12146/12146-h/12146-h.htm

For extracts, see:
1842 J. Lort Stokes: Swimming, Floats and Rafts, North West Australia.


Thomas, N. W.: Australian Canoes and Rafts.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute,
1905, XXXV, pp. 56-7
Not yet located.


Thomson, Donald: Donald Thomson in Arnhem Land
Currey O'Neil, 1983.
Miegunyah Press,Carlton, Victoria
, c2003.

For extracts, see:
1930 Donald Thompson: Arnhem Land.

Wesson, Sue (editor): A History of the Aboriginal people of the Illawarra 1770 to 1970
Based on a report by Kate Gahan, 2004.
Department of the Environment and Conservation, NSW, 2005.


The Arrernte word Awelye, from Central Australia, describes the interrelationship of everything; plant, animal, earth and language. Aboriginal knowledge about: plants, animals, non-living things, spirit, economy, aesthetics, kin, responsibility, and journeying bind categories of information with one another.
In other words nothing can be considered in isolation.
By contrast, non-indigenous knowledge structures involve the separation of information into ever smaller parts for detailed examination.
- 6 page.


Also
Ida Lee (Mrs. Charles Bruce Marriott: The Coming of the British to Australia 1788 to 1829.
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
1906
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks09/0900091h.html

Botantical References
Many thanks to Dr Nicholas H. de Jong.
Gary Leonard: Eucalypts of the Sydney Region
Robinson, L.: Field Guide to Native Plants of Sydney, Kangaroo Press, 1991.
Fuller, L.: Native Trees of Central Illawarra, Weston & Co., 1985.
Kevin Mills: The Natural Vegetation of the Jervis Bay Region of New South Wales, UOW, Wollongong, 1993.
Kevin Mills: The Natural Vegetation of the Jervis Bay Region of New South Wales, UOW, Department of Geography, [1998].

Source Documents Links
References

home catalogue history references appendix


This work is dedicated to Bulpinda Munnungurr, photograph by Julie Whalen,1984.

Geoff Cater (2013-2014) : Traditional Water Craft of the Australian Aboriginals, 50,000 bp.
http://www.surfresearch.com.au/0000h_Australia_48,000bc.html