Boomerang from La Perouse made by Joe Timbery
This boomerang was made and decorated by Joe Timbery (1912-1978) from the La Perouse region of Sydney. Joe Timbery was famous for making boomerangs and other Indigenous artefacts, which were either painted or engraved with motifs such as Australian flora and fauna, along with iconic images such as the Harbour Bridge. Such works reflect links to land and traditional cultural practices, along with changing circumstances within Aboriginal communities brought about by European invasion.
From the mid to late 1800s, Aboriginal people created artworks such as boomerangs, shields and clubs which were decorated with engravings or paintings. These were sold to tourists who were coming to the beachside area in increasing numbers. In addition sellers would take their wares to sell at market places and other tourist areas within Sydney. Aboriginal women from La Perouse became known for their shellwork, decorating boxes, boomerangs and other items with shells collected at La Perouse and nearby areas along the NSW coastline. Joe's grandmother Emma (1842-1916), known as 'Queen' or 'Granny' Timbery, became an accomplished and well known shellworker, selling her works to tourists as well as exhibiting in the Royal Easter Show.
Similarly, Joe entered this market and became famous for his engraved and painted boomerangs, along with his excellence in boomerang throwing. Joe offered lessons in boomerang throwing, including the rock group Abba, and taught at the Sydney Boomerang School. He demonstrated his skills near the Eiffel Tower in Paris and in 1954 presented his hand-made boomerangs to Queen Elizabeth II during her royal tour of Australia. Joe was also known for his storytelling, and was a keen writer of poetry.
This boomerang relates to a significant member of the La Perouse Aboriginal community, whose family has a long and considerable history within the region. An ancestor of the Timbery family, known as Timbere, King of the Five Islands, lived in the area at the time when colonists first arrived at Botany Bay. In 1929 his King Plate was unearthed at La Perouse and is now in the Mitchell Library. Members of the Timbery family continue to live at La Perouse.
In addition the boomerang is exemplary of the manner in which members of the La Perouse Aboriginal community have used art and craft activities to generate income since the late 1800s, often adapting traditional motifs or techniques for this new market. The Museum holds a number of items relating to Joe Timbery and the La Perouse Aboriginal community. This community was one of the first to be confronted with European invasion and material within this collection assists in documenting the social and cultural history of the region and its people.
Randwick City Council, http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/default.php?id=148
Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/AS10461b.htm
Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/A-tale-of-twohistories /2005/01/16/1105810768834.html