Tools and Weapons

There are an extensive range of tools made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and different methods used for making them. Stone is used for grinding seeds, hammering or flaking, to make other tools or to prepare food. Some stones have handles to make shields, swords, spearheads or other things like axes to chop wood.

Animal teeth (including shark teeth) are used to engrave objects whilst fire is another tool used for warmth, cooking food and forcing animals from their burrows, which makes them easier to catch. Some groups use sharkskin for sanding or filing. The bones of stingrays and sharks are used to make tools and the spines in the tail of stingrays are used as spear tips.

Fishhooks can be made from wood, bone and shells while nets, baskets and traps all aid in hunting and gathering for food. Digging sticks, fire sticks and message sticks are other important tools that can help clans in their daily lives.

The Ngaro people, from the Whitsunday Islands and mainland coastal fringes of the region, once used woven grass nets made from plant material to gather shellfish and fish. Traps made from sinew were used to catch land animals like waterfowl and kangaroos.

One method of catching food from the sea was the construction of stone fish-traps in inter-tidal areas such as those created by the Meriam people of Murray Island in the Torres Strait. Fish traps, crayfish holes and coral structures used to raise lobsters are maintained and provide nutrition and sustenance from the sea.