food collecting


Three women from Atherton outside their hut, making baskets. Although people have few possessions, every hut has these five main items: a grindstone, a bark water container, one of these large baskets, the large battle sword, and a large shield.

Aboriginal women utilise a range of bags, baskets and containers to carry food and other items. These include:

  • Soft string bags or dilly bags made from woven bush string.
  • Stiff baskets made from bulrushes, strips of palm fronds, and strips of cane.
  • Baskets made using a coiled technique.
  • Wooden coolamons of various shapes, sizes and depths (particularly in desert regions).
  • Elongated bark containers with pleated and tied ends (known in the Kimberley as anggam, and used as food and baby-carriers).
  • A container made from a thin piece of bark folded in half and sewn along its edges (found in northern Queensland and on the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, where it is known locally as a tjunga, pronounced choon-ga).

At the top, two plant fibre string bags for carrying food and other items. Below left, a headband. Below right, a stiff fibre bag used for straining food, such as yams after they are washed.


food collecting

bicorn basket

Cane basket made from split Lawyer Cane / Vine (Calamus caryotoides). Usually called a "bicornual" basket, the correct term is "bicornuate" basket, named after its two horn-like pointed corners. Cedar Creek, north Queensland.

A decorated  tjunga (folded and sewn bark container) from the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, Northern Territory.

(David M. Welch Collection)

tjunga Tiwi Islands

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