Australia's First People


As Mangan left camp early in the morning, he rubbed a mixture of mud and dead leaves over his body. This would help mask the smell of his body from any game. He walked noiselessly, every watchful, towards the river. He moved so as to be downwind of his hunting area, a grassland, recently burnt, that would now be covered in fresh young shoots. He knew the habits of the kangaroos. He could recognise their tracks and tell how long ago they might have passed. Far ahead startled cockatoos took to flight; Mangan knew he was near his quarry. As he approached the river the kangaroo tracks indicated that they had passed by only minutes ago. Mangan sensed that over the rise ahead the kangaroos would be grazing. He advanced a few steps at a time, taking care to remain sheltered by the few trees and bushes not burnt. Each time the kangaroos stopped feeding to look around Mangan remained motionless until they began to feed again. Slowly he advanced throwing-stick and spear at the ready. A few more steps and his spear would be thrown.



As there is a vast diversity of environments within Victoria many different hunting strategies were used. Methods also varied depending on the season and resources available.

Hunting Kangaroos and Emus
OPEN COUNTRY: Hunters used a screen of branches and leaves to hide behind until they were close enough to throw their spears. (The spear was a Tea-tree branch, approximately two metres long with a smooth point.)
SCRUB COUNTRY: Kangaroos and emus were hunted down with the aid of dingoes.
SUMMER: Hunters dug holes in dried out swamp and waterhole muddy banks to trap emus as they came to drink.
NETS: Hunters drove emus and kangaroos into strategically placed nets.
BERRIES: Hunters placed berries beneath a tree to entice emus with spear range.

Spear thrower

Hunting Birds
Fences of brush with small holes were built around watering places. A noose was concealed within the small hole to trap the approaching bird. Parrots could be taken with the aid of a boomerang or club. Large nets place just above the waterline were used to snare startled ducks.