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The Mapoon Indigenous Double Outrigger in storage.

Mapoon Indigenous Double Outrigger Canoe

Vessel Number: HV000442
Date: 1896
Previous Owner:
Classification:Vessels and fittings
The Mapoon Indigenous Double Outrigger Canoe is one of the different types of Indigenous outrigger canoes that have been recorded from around the Cape York coastline of northern Australia. These were used close to the coast and their configuration is related to the Torres Strait Islander versions which operated in more open waters. It was donated to the Queensland Museum in 1896 and is one of a small number of original outrigger canoes from Cape York that are held in Australian collections.
DescriptionThe Mapoon Indigenous Double Outrigger Canoe was built in northern Queensland. It was collected in 1896 by John Nicholas Hey, a Moravian Missionary from the Mapoon mission situated near Cullen Point on Port Musgrave, which is just over 150km south-west of Cape York. Hey led the mission from 1895 until 1919 and donated the craft in 1896.

The outrigger canoe has a main hull and two identical outrigger hulls supported by cross beams. The main canoe hull is a dugout form, and painted in red with white squares along the sides, while the parallel outriggers are solid with shaped ends and remain unpainted. They are all built from sections of the cotton tree (Bombax ceiba). The beams crossing the hull and connecting the outriggers are made from a species of mangrove (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza). The beams connect to the outriggers with twin vee shaped sticks that are made from Coastal Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) and driven into holes in the outriggers. They are bound to the beams with fibre ropes that can be made from various creepers and used after they have been soaked in water for several hours. One possible material that has been recorded for this use is Water Vine (Flagellaria indica).

Hey recorded that the local language (probably Nggerikudi - now Yupungayth, or Tjungundji) and in his notation the name for the canoe is 'badra', and the timber for the hull and outriggers is called 'fibra'. The outriggers are called 'tradana', the cross beams are called 'tolsana' and their wood is called 'tehedra' . The twin sticks connecting the beams to the outriggers are called 'a' meaning 'a hand'.

The main hull has slightly raised ends at the top edge, but is otherwise straight fore and aft on the sides and keel. It would be a suitable craft for fishing and transport along the coast in calm to moderate conditions, with excellent stability from the relatively wide outriggers. It is simply constructed and decorated, and this appears to be typical for the mainland outrigger types. Evidence from documentation of the larger Torres Strait type indicates they were more sophisticated and detailed in their construction and decoration, but shared the same basic pattern.

In 2010 the Mapoon Indigenous Double Outrigger Canoe is in excellent condition and in storage in the collection at the Queensland Museum.

Prepared from material supplied by Queensland Museum and Geoff Wharton.

Vessel Details
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:paddle
Hull material and construction:indigenous materialsnative materials
Alternate Numbers

: QE.1215

Previous Number: HV

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