Tree Climbing

Tommy Wright in Malanda Jungle. c.1930
Photo. Cairns Historical Society

Lumholtz, describing the method of tree climbing used by the Ngadjonji:

....if he has to climb a high tree, he first goes into the scrub to fetch a piece of the Australian calamus, which he partly bites, partly breaks off; ....at the end of it he makes a knot, the other he leaves as it is. This implement, which is usually sixteen to eighteen feet long, is called a kamin ( gamin ). After wiping his hands in the grass so as to remove all moisture .. throws the kamin around the big tree-trunk, and tries to catch the other end in his right hand.....he winds this end a few times around the right arm and thus gets a secure hold. The right foot is planted against the tree, the arms are extended directly in front of him, the body is bent back, so that it is kept as far as possible away from the tree, and then the ascent begins. He keeps throwing the kamin up the tree, and at the same time he himself ascends about as easily as a sailor uses an accommodation ladder..... he takes his tomahawk in his mouth, and when he wants to use it removes the kamin from his right arm and winds it around his right thigh, whereupon with his free hand he cuts the next niche or two in the bark of the tree....no tree is too high or too smooth for the Australian native to climb, provided it's circumference is not too great.

Lumholtz (1889) p.98


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