Aboriginal Bullroarer

01 Nov

Continuing on with the Subject of Aboriginal artefacts, I share with you this beautifully decorated Bull roarer from the Aboriginal Tribal lands of Central South Australia. But first to explain what a Bull roarer is.

Bull roarers are thin tear-shaped pieces of wood attached to a long cord.

To use a Bull roarer, spin it around it’s own axis, holding the end of the string in a big circle above your head. If done correctly the Bull roarer will produce an eerie whirring sound that carries well in the barren landscape of Australia. Its sound can carry over a kilometre on a silent night when used in mountain ranges or gullies.

It’s said that Bull roarers were used in secret Aboriginal ceremonies. Other people believe Bull roarers were used as the Aboriginal ‘bush telephone’, to communicate over long distances.

I chose this particular Bull roarer as it displays the beautiful artwork of its Tribal origin.

I photographed both sides to show its intricate detail, it is a butterfly that has been painted, using the Dot style of painting that Aboriginal art is renowned for, it truly is a beautiful piece of work.

If you have seen the Australian Movie Crocodile Dundee11, you would have seen the actor, Paul Hogan using it as a form of Aboriginal communication, much like we use a phone.

I attach a video clip demonstrating its use and the eerie sound it makes.



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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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18 responses to “Aboriginal Bullroarer

    • The Emu

      February 19, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story, a good example of the Bull Roarer in use was shown in the movie Crocodile Dundee,
      Kind regards and best wishes.
      Emu aka Ian

  1. Sue Dreamwalker

    November 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Love the Bull roarer Emu.. and the video of it in action.. I adore Aboriginal Art.. And love the Transformation sign of the Butterfly within this art piece.. very symbolic.. 🙂

    • The Emu

      December 1, 2014 at 4:58 am

      Pleased you appreciated the artwork on the Bull roarer Sue.
      I love Aboriginal art, for the simplistic beauty, that has Spiritual meaning for the peoples.

  2. auntyuta

    November 9, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Wonderful art work. The Aboriginal culture is quite amazing. It is great that other Australians come to appreciate it now.

    • The Emu

      November 9, 2014 at 4:44 am

      I love the Aboriginal artwork, not the cheap shop produced stuff that is in every souvenir shop.
      I enjoy watching them create the work, then you know it is traditional and has Aboriginal meanings.

  3. gpcox

    November 3, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Such detailed artistry. [I don’t suppose teenage aborigines sent as many messages as teenagers do today!! That would get pretty exhausting.]

    • The Emu

      November 4, 2014 at 2:54 am

      Good afternoon gpcox, glad you appreciated the artwork in that Bullroarer.
      Agree with your comment mate, Aboriginal teenagers would have used it in communicating their location with others, or indicating what they are doing or where they are going, much like the mobiles and teens of today, but unlike the teens of the day, they wouldn’t have walked around with a Bullroarer in their hand all day.

  4. Clowie

    November 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I’ve wanted to try that ever since I saw Crocodile Dundee do it!

    • The Emu

      November 4, 2014 at 2:51 am

      Hi Clowie, the Bullroarer is easy to use, just need a good swinging arm.
      The sound is eerie at night and carries a long way.
      Mick Dundee is a good example of its use, Aboriginals heard the sound and knew where Mick was.
      Great communication in outback Australia.

  5. natswans

    November 2, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Yes I loved those movies Emu , so fascinating! That is a strange sound , the work is beautiful.
    Great invention.
    Take care sorry took so long to read your good posts Emu.

    • The Emu

      November 4, 2014 at 2:45 am

      The beauty of the Aboriginals Sheila, is that they use the simplest means they have around them, to achieve their everyday needs, with the Bull roarer its for music, communication and design in denoting their tribe.
      Quite a fascinating culture.

  6. giselzitrone

    November 2, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Einen schönen Sonntag wünsche ich dir das macht schöne Musik beim drehen lieber Gruß von mir und Freundschaft Gislinde

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Danke Gislinde, Sonntagabend jetzt hier.
      Danke für mögen meine Post und schön zu wissen, dass Sie die Klänge der Musik der australischen Aborigines geschätzt.
      Ich wünsche Ihnen einen schönen Woche mein Freund.
      Grüße aus Australien.

  7. cat

    November 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Lovely bush telephone, I’d say … you think it works in snow and -30C as well??? Just asking, because the colder it gets the more you can hear over long distances … such as deer treading lightly … Love, cat.

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Good evening Cat, the sound would definitely carry over a snow field if you can create wind, personally I would prefer a mobile, hehe.

  8. prenin

    November 1, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Yeah I remember the movie! 🙂

    Amazing piece of technology if you think about it – Wonder who carved two pieces of wood and thought: “Hey I can send messages with this!!!” 🙂

    Human ingenuity at its best!!! 🙂

    God Bless!


    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

      It is ironic Prenin, in that the basics of sound and creation, are made from the simplest things in Aboriginal culture.
      They could talk over a kilometre away long before phones were invented.


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