Wallaby trap from northern Queensland
This is a wallaby trap woven from lawyer cane. It is 110 cm long and the entrance has a diameter of 55 cm, tapering down to a diameter of 33 cm in the body of the trap. It was acquired by the Australian Museum from Atherton, south-west of Cairns in northern Queensland, in 1895.
Basket traps such as this one were woven in the shape of a cone with one end tied shut with twine. The entrance was made large enough to allow a wallaby to enter but the trap narrows to prevent escape. As the wallaby attempts to move through the trap it becomes more tightly held.
Although made by men, basket traps such as this were used by women and children working together in a hunt that required good communication and teamwork. They laid 10 to 12 traps side by side across known wallaby trails and disguised them with branches and bark. They then made noises and beat bushes to drive a wallaby into one of the traps. When the wallaby entered and became trapped it was killed with a club, spear or axe.
The trap is an example of a wallaby trap made from lawyer cane Calamus australis. Lawyer cane, related to rattan, is an extremely flexible and strong cane that grows in the subtropical rainforests of northern Qld.
The trap is representative of a wide variety of basket traps used throughout Australia to catch birds, mammals and fish. The shape, size and materials of manufacture varied according to each region's flora and fauna. Other technologies used for the same purpose included snares, nets, pit traps, stone traps and fishhooks.