Come Back, Please: The Art of the Boomerang

Lehman's Handcrafted Boomerangs
Long before humans discovered mechanical flight, Australian aborigines used boomerangs to hunt. These simple wonders still don’t need batteries or computers to fascinate. With a little know-how, you can wing them into the wind and watch as they magically return to you.

When I first started working at Lehman’s, I could not help but smile when I learned that they sold boomerangs. I had one when I was little and was fascinated by it for many reasons. For one, I couldn’t quite understand why or how it came back; all I knew was it did (or at least when I threw it correctly, which well . . . took me quite awhile to figure out). However, the main reason why I liked it so much was the boomerang’s story.

At the time, all I knew was the boomerang originally came from Australia, and as a child, any place that had kangaroos and kola bears was plain cool. I remember these rare summers where my grandparents’ friends, who were from Australia, would come and visit. I’d listen attentively to their pleasant accents and their stories of living on their farm. It didn’t matter that I was surrounded by farms myself an Australian farm somehow seemed much more interesting. They described troublesome dingos and how kangaroos caused car accidents much like our overpopulated deer. They talked about the seasons and what winter was like for them. I was completely intrigued with their country.

Sydney Bridge
A picture of the Sydney Bridge in Darling Harbour I took while on a ferry

Years later when I was in college, I decided to spend a semester studying in Sydney, Australia four whole months that turned out to be my absolutely favorite semester of college. As part of a class I took, I went on a camping trip and stayed on an Australian farm in the middle of what they called “the bush.” It was a rural, quiet area where the nearest neighbor was miles and miles away. The land was completely flat and dry from the drought. Trees were sparse, and at night, the stars were so visible and beautifully bright.

Australian sunset
One of the many beautiful sunsets I saw while in Australia

As part of the trip, my instructor had invited some guests, which included an Aboriginal man who spoke to the class about his ancestors and their traditions, which wouldn’t you know, included the boomerang. He told us that years and years ago, the boomerang was invented not as a toy or sport, but rather as a weapon. The Aboriginal people (also known as the Indigenous people of Australia) used the boomerang to hunt birds and small animals off their land; however, the boomerang we see today is much different. Some believe the earlier boomerangs weren’t much more than a rock that slowly evolved into its curved shape that we are so familiar with today. He kindly explained to us how different carvings and designs on the boomerang meant different things to their culture.

He then had us line up and showed us one-by-one how to properly throw a boomerang. Arm up with the end of the boomerang in our hands, we took turns flinging boomerangs in the air. It was one of the most memorable experiences I had during my time in Australia.

The good news is you don’t have to go all the way to Australia to learn how to throw a boomerang (though if you have a chance, I’d take it.) That’s what I love about this particular boomerang Lehman’s has. It comes complete with detailed instructions to help you learn how to throw it correctly (something I could have used years ago). Handcrafted out of sturdy birch wood, it is quite charming, too, with its brilliant blue and black design. It is a great way to get youngsters and the whole family outside. Plus, it’s made right here in the USA and even includes an application to join the U.S. Boomerang Association.

This boomerang will go as far as 25 yards (75 feet). It does take a little practice, so don’t get discouraged if your boomerang does not quite come back on the first few throws. (If you’re anything like me, it will take several trips of retrieving your misplaced boomerang before mastering the technique.) However, once you finally get that first return, it’s quite exciting. And you might just find yourself throwing it again and again.


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