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The following information is reproduced from displays at the Millmerran Mines Project Artifacts house:

Scarred Trees

Scarred Trees & uses for Bark, Knots, Canoes, Punts, Coolimon & Packages

Before the early settlers arrived there would have been vast amounts of scarred trees along Back Creek and surrounding areas.  Due to the clearing that has occurred since the turn of the 20th century, a lot have been lost.  However, on the Millmerran Power Project lands, there are a small number of “scarred” trees left, some still standing and alive, others are lying dead decaying away.  People sometimes ask, “what were they used for?” And “How did the Aboriginal people make them?”  “How come they have different sized ones?”  These are the notes taken by the “northern Protector of Aboriginals” Mr Walter E. Roth about the different uses the Aboriginal people had for trees.



Vessels made out of bark may be conveniently described under certain types - eg the knot, pleat, bi-cornial, sewn canoe and punt, all of them, with the exemption of the first depending upon the differences in the fixation of their extremities.


The Knot type of carrier - Fig 1

Another good example of a natural form is made of the gnarled excrescence met with the butt of certain species of Eucalyptus, such as the bulging knot.  At a suitable season of the year, the tree is hacked around the base then a pointed stick is used to loosen its edges and the bark shell is then removed.   The roughness etc, within are scooped out by charring with fire and then scrapping with shell or a stone, while any cracks, splits or holes are mended with cement-substance.  The vessel may be carried out by means of a handle-string passed through holes drilled don opposite sides of its free edge.

Scarred Trees2web.jpg
Scarred Trees1web.jpg

The Pleat-type of Bark Trough - Fig 2

The Pleat-type of bark through, is made of an oblong sheet of bark folded up at its ends, which is then fixed in position either by typing, bracing, looping or spiking.  In addition to being employed for the transport of water or honey and for the preparation of various foods, these troughs though, of course on a larger scale, are used for carrying infants and other impedimenta across creeks by being pushed along in front of the swimmer.  Again the larger sized ones could have been used for carrying corpses to other areas for burial during burial ceremonies.


Sewn-Canoe type - Fig 3

This is a large trough, sewn with “lawyer-cane at the two extremities made in fact, on identical lines as the local single-bark canoe but in miniature.  To describe this particular vessel as of a canoe-type pure and and simple would be ambiguous in that there are two or three varieties of this pleat-type of utensil.  They are similar but, small editions of canoes were used in former times in the Southern Queensland and New South Wales coast line.


Punt type of carrier - Fig 4

The punt type of carrier is constructed on almost an identical pattern as the paper punts or trays made by European children, with the addition that, both outside and in the two smaller sides are supported by means of sticks laced through with a vine strip;  the folder of the extremities of the smaller sides may be top-stitched in addition.  This kind of trough is as much as four feet or more in length from 6 to 8 inches deep, and is used for preparing a certain kind of sour yam in.


Coolimon - Fig 5

The elongated wooden trough or “coolimon” where the timber does not lend itself to “splitting’, a trunk or limb is selected as near as possible to a required shape with a slight bend in it which will ultimately become the outer surface of the vessel.  The suitable length of timber having b been removed (split or hacked away as the case may be) its outer shape is then trimmed into the final shape required.  Its concavity is produced by picking or ‘charring’ and gouging with a native-gouge set.  When roughly got into shape it is steeped in water, maybe for some days, then round with twine to fix it in its permanent shape and finally it is finished off with the gouge.

These carriers very greatly in size from 13 to 14 to over 49 inches in length and up to 13 1/2 inches wide, are either convex or slightly flat-bottomed and dip or shallow, with corresponding differences in the angles at which the ends slope towards the centre.  These variations are due partly to the natural contour and adaptability of the timber employed and partly to the use to which the Bessel may be put.  These latter include a basin for the carrying of water, food, a baby, a miniature canoe for transporting impedimenta across a stream, or vessel for washing and soaking yams etc.

The larger variety is carried either on the head or at the side or back of the body, in the latter cases, supported on about the level underneath:  the spilling of the fluid is limited, almost prevented, by laying small twigs or leaves upon its surface.

“Coolimons”: were manufactured by men only.



Apparently the most primitive form of package is the entire breadth of bark sheet from a comparatively small tree, with its free edges overlapping opting to its natural curl:  although such a parcel has open ends, a suitably long one supported by a twine loop from the opposite shoulder may be slung over the mothers hip to enclose the baby.  Another common method pretty well everywhere adopted for carrying and preserving small articles, especially those which are on transit for the purposes of trade and barter, eg pigments, stingaree-barbs, is to roll the package up in bark, fold over the edges and wrap the bundle round with twine.  Tea-tree appears to be the bark which is used.  

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