Re: Crocodile Dundee Whirly Thing (AKA Bullroarer)
Lorie McGraw (llmcgraw@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 00:49:06 +0000
Hi, Wayne, You wrote:
<snip> When Dundee was in the outback he communicated with the aborigines
>using a piece of wood? on a piece of cord that he swung around and it made
>a errie whirring sound. Different pitches depending on how fast he swung
>it around. I thought if it was simple to work I could get the patrols to
>make them and use them to communicate with each other from a distance, or
>use it some night after a scary story.
Great idea and I have used it for both to wonderful effect. And it is very
simple to make and use.
>Anyway, does anybody know what I'm talking about???
>What's it called and do you have instructions on making this thing?
It is called a Bull-roarer and it is very simple to make. Many
aboriginal tribes on all continents used this tool as a means of
communication, religious ceremony, initiation rites, and to scare the
bejeebies out of kids by being the voice of a monster or boogerman. Many
North American tribes used it as a communication device while hunting (the
sound carries for miles, is very distinctive, yet does not spook game, maybe
only confusing it). It also has a sort of natural ventriloquisitic effect
that makes it hard to pinpoint the location of it from a distance, good for
warfare and religious ceremonies. One African tribe used it during manhood
initiations, with the voice of the Bull-roarer eminating from a closed hut
that the initiates were taken into blindfolded. (I can only guess how scary
To make a Bull-roarer ( I do not know why it is called that, maybe
Mark Arend knows) you need a flat piece of hard wood. A slat from a
mahogany or oak chair does nicely. Size does not matter (I have one that is
10 inches by 2.5 inches (30 cm x 5cm) and another that is 35 inches by 4
inches), but shape does. The wood needs to be a long, flat oval, angled
like a knife on both of the long sides of the oval, but a little uneven,
like an airplane wing. This is so that the wood will cut through the air
like a knife, but it must spin, too.
Drill a hole in one end of the oval and attach a long, very strong
cord (start with about 4.5 feet (~1.2 meter), but the cord can be longer.
Parachute cord works well if doubled and doubled again, or corded for a
fourstrand light rope. Braided or corded rawhide or dogbane cordage will
work, but it must be very very strong, but lightweight, too. A short (2
inch) stick at the other end and knotted on securely in the middle of the
stick like a "T" will make a good handle. Double check all knots.
Now, in a large >clear< space (these things can detach and become
missiles) place the short handle in your hand with the cord coming out
between your fingers. Do not twist your fingers in the cord, they may be
amputated! Slowly swing the Bullroarer over your head and get it spinning.
As it twists up the cord, it will start to hum. Then it will sharply
untwist and hum again. Keep spinning it in the same direction, being
careful not to hit yourself or anyone else in the head. (ouch! You will do
that at least once. I am pretty low on the learning curve and have knocked
my head a few times). Pitch varies with the speed of your swing and the size
of your wooden oval. The key is the spinning of the wood as you swing it
around in a circle.
>Is there any standard communication code for this thing like Morse Code?
Not to my knowledge, though since you can vary the pitch it would be easy to
make a series of pre-arranged signals (long sustained sound = "buffalo are
in position for the hunt", etc.)
>Or was this whole thing just a Hollywood gimmick?
Not at all, it is as real and ancient as the rocks themselves.
>Maybe our friends "down under" can clear things up for me.
I'm in South Carolina, and the local Indians used this method for hundred of
years, too.I am sure that Grant and our other friends can help out, too, hey?
If anyone is interested in more primitive skills, go to any search engine
and type in "primitive technology" and stand back. There are lots of great
sites with much information out there.
Well, have to go play my didgeredoo now. Anyone want to know how to make
one of those, too? Now >there's< a wild sound!
Sorry for the length of the post. Hope this helps you.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Lorie McGraw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bear Den Leader Pack 410
Indian Waters Council, Columbia, SC
Etowah Creek District Webmaster
Visit The Slide Show at http://home.att.net/~llmcgraw/etowah/slides.htm
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City