Sunday, March 20, 2011

Paddle culture

The group of islands (1 very large, 1 moderate and lots of small) that constitute this place known as Australia have a total length of coastline of approximately 59,736 km.
( Mainland = 35,877 km + Islands = 23,859 km )
Source: Australian Geoscience.

So it's not surprising to find that the groups of indigenous people who lived along these extensive and varied coastal environments for tens of thousands of years developed a culture with a great variety of marine craft for travelling, hunting and gathering.

The elegant drawing by David Payne (reproduced with permission above) represents just some of the documented types of indigenous paddle (and sail) craft known to have existed at the time of British colonisation and shortly thereafter. No doubt there would have been still more designs that escape our knowledge. They have not survived the limited timespan available to organic materials and have disappeared back into the soil from which their constituent elements were derived, along with their original paddlers.

According to Historian Keith Vincent Smith, the indigenous people of Sydney Harbour - the Eora - were a canoeing culture. Indeed during the earliest days of British settlement there are reports of observing more than 90 indigenous paddle craft on the harbour in a single day.
Paddling was a central aspect to indigenous coastal culture.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The blue field

South along the cliffs to Botany Bay ...

"I'm on!"

"Me too!"