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The Indigenous bark canoe on display at Hay Gaol Museum in 2007

Bunumbert Lake Indigenous Bark Canoe

Vessel Number: HV000412
Previous Owner:
Vessel Dimensions: 2.57 m x 0.6 m (8.43 ft x 1.97 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
This Indigenous Bark Canoe from Bunumbert Lake NSW and on display at Hay Gaol NSW is a typical example of the Indigenous bark canoes cut from trees and used on the Murray Darling River systems in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. It was found in dried out lake bed near Hay NSW. It is possibly quite rare as few original examples of this type appear to exist, although a number of images and illustrations have survived to identify their general characteristics. From an archeological perspective it is also quite rare as perishable materials of this nature often do not survive well on open air sites.
DescriptionThe canoe is 2.57metres long, about 600 mm wide, and is thought to have been cut from a Black Box (eucalyptus largiflorens). This is a common tree to the area and the species is known to have been used for canoe construction through scar evidence seen on the 'canoe trees' in the region. It was found at an unknown date at Bunumbert Lake near Tupra Station in the Oxley region when the lake bed dried out. It was later donated to the Hay Gaol Museum by the family of Harold Pearson.

The form of the bark, shaped to have the edges and bow rounded up to create more volume confirms that it is a canoe and this is agreed with by the local Indigenous communities, the Yitha Yitha and Nari Nari language groups. There is documented evidence that canoes were used on the Lachlan River, the primary river in this region which flows south west to the Murray River. Although quite thick and potentially heavy because the bark is about 12 to 25 mm thick at the edges, the depth created by the rounded up sides, traditionally formed with the aid of fire and heat, would be sufficient to support a person poling the craft along a river or across a lake.

One end, possibly the bow, has the typical tapered shape that ends in a blunted point, but the opposite end is squarer, and has developed a split. It is quite possible this end has been damaged at some time and may have lost some of its original shape.

In 2010 this unique craft is on display at the Hay Gaol regional museum in Hay NSW, and demonstrates valuable evidence of the varied watercraft used by Indigenous communities throughout Australia.

Vessel Details
Current status:on public display
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:pole
Hull material and construction:indigenous materialsnative materials

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