By Troy Brown
Scar trees and toe hold trees have been a part of Aboriginal culture for centuries.
There is a scar tree and a toe hold tree out the front of the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place here at GEGAC.
We are excited that we have recently been able to put covering structures over the scar and toe hold trees, to protect them from the elements.
These structures were built by Nigel Pearce’s company, Pearce Cameron Contractors.
If you don’t know what a scar tree or a toe hold tree is, here is a brief description.
A scar tree is formed when the bark of a tree is removed.
Aboriginal people use the bark to create useful items such as coolamons, woomeras and, with larger pieces, even canoes.
The scarred section resembles an open ‘wound’ in the side where the bark was taken, and this becomes drier as the tree ages.
Toe hold tree
Toe holds were cut into trees to help people climb the tree to extract animals, honey or bird eggs, or to climb for a lookout.
The toe hold tree that is on display was actually cut down by our Elders back in the 1990s.
The scar tree that is currently at GEGAC was found in Eastwood, and is estimated to be around 300 to 400 years old. It has been moved a couple of times in recent years.
“In about 1980 I remember it being around the Bairnsdale Museum,” says Rob Hudson, GEGAC’s Keeping Place and Cultural Business Coordinator.
In 1990, GEGAC fought for it to be moved from the Bairnsdale Museum, down near the Bairnsdale Football and Netball Club on Macarthur Street, to the Keeping Place.
Rob is very passionate about these artifacts because they showcase our incredible history and culture.
“Artifacts such as these two are so important for our culture,” Rob says. “We have got to start making sure Aboriginal artifacts are preserved all over Australia.”
“These toes hold trees are extremely rare, and hard to come by.”
To have one out the front on display for everyone to come see means so much to us at GEGAC.
So, whenever you come visit GEGAC for an appointment, or if you’re just passing by, make sure to visit these incredible pieces of history.