Before we have overseas visitors, we generally check in with them a few weeks prior to find out their desired itinerary and goals for their visit. There were two things at the top of Uncle Barry's list. An avid golfer, he mentioned that he wanted to visit a golf course, and further, that he hoped to purchase an authentic boomerang, and possibly a didgeridoo. The first request was easily handled, as I had been planning for Ross to stop off at the golf course in Anglesea on their trip to the Great Ocean Road. There they discovered, as we had been promised, dozens of kangaroos lounging on the greens amongst the golfers.
The second request was a bit trickier. I think it is safe to say that the majority of boomerangs for sale in Australia are not made in Australia at all. Instead, they hail from Indonesia or China, often with tags that claim they have been the "designed" or "inspired" by Australians. I presume these tags are meant to make the tourist feel better about his purchase. The Queen Vic Market has numerous such stalls filled with cheap, brightly painted and varnished souvenirs, the majority of which are produced overseas. We have a couple of non-indigenous, non-returning boomerang from these stalls, as more than one of my own children have concluded they would rather save their money and purchase a cheap, attractive-looking boomerang as a souvenir rather than spend five times as much for a more authentic one. Here is one example that has made its way into our house.
Here it is next to a supposedly more authentic one that we purchased on our first visit to Healesville Sanctuary. The man who sold it to us threw it in an arc and caught it before we handed over our cash, so we at least know that it works in the hands of an expert.
This was the extent of our knowledge of boomerangs before the visit of Ross's Uncle Barry and Aunt Marion. We did visit Healesville Sanctuary with them, but alas, the boomerang thrower was not there peddling his wares. Inquiries at the Queen Vic market produced a few authentic-looking specimens, but Uncle Barry was not completely satisfied. He turned to the internet, and after some research and a handful of phone calls, he came up with an address of a world champion thrower who also makes his own boomerangs and didgeridoos. On one of our free days, we plugged the address into the car's gps, my lifesaver in Melbourne, and realized it was surprisingly close. I went along as their chauffer and local tour guide, and learned a few things myself.
As you will see from the photos, Uncle Barry was not content to merely purchase a boomerang, he wanted lessons in throwing as well. I am happy to report that he succeeded on his second attempt, something I could never hope to do I am sure. In order to fly and return, the specially-shaped stick must have airfoil wings that cause it to travel in an elliptical path as it spins. After the teaching session, our expert took the boomerang back to his workshop to work on the airfoil part a bit, and then he signed and varnished it before handing it over. Aunt Marion bought one as well, although I don't think she plans on throwing hers.
Our champion thrower explained that boomerangs were traditionally crafted from curved tree roots, and he showed us an example of one he plans to turn into a boomerang. When I queried as to the original purpose of the curved, returning, throwing stick, he affirmed that it was for sport and entertainment, or occasionally to help hunters flush birds out of trees. Wikipedia confirms this, adding that the non-returning variety of throwing stick dates back thousands of years to several continents and was used to kill or bring down large prey.
Once Uncle Barry felt he had learned enough about throwing his new boomerang, the talk turned to didgeridoos. Here he put his musical talents to use as he attempted to blow through the large tube-like structure. Satisfied with the results, he purchased one of these as well. Our next problem to solve was how to get the didgeridoo safely back to Canada.
Thanks to a tip from a playground mum at the boys' school, we ended up at Pack and Send, where the staff were more than happy to help us solve the problem, for a fee of course. Happily the Pack and Send was located very close to the Prahran Market, where we ended up afterward, and when we returned a few days later, the didgeridoo was all set for its long airplane ride back to Canada.
Now all I am waiting for is to hear Uncle Barry playing his new instrument on YouTube. When I do, I will be sure to include a link.
Coming in the next post: the winner(s) and answers from my language quiz