Making Fire

No matches? No Problem!

The traditional Burarra way of making fire is by using two sticks, the rubbing stick and the base stick.

The rubbing stick is made from straight branches of hard, dry and light wood. This stick is thin and long, about 40 cm (16 in) in length. The outer layer of bark is removed and the stick is smoothed with a knife.

The base stick is wider and flat so that it sits firmly on the ground. A recess is made in the middle of the base stick so that the end of the rubbing stick just fits in. A little groove is made on one side of this hole. Fire makers usually keep good fire sticks so that they don't have to prepare new ones each time they want to light a fire.

To make fire, you have to rub fast and push down hard at the same time.

If the speed and push on the stick is right, you will soon get smoke. When a glowing ember forms, you tip this onto dry grass to start the fire. If the firesticks are made from good wood, you can start a fire in just a few minutes.

Of course, this method of fire making takes a lot of energy. Today Burarra men and women often use matches or lighters to start a fire, but they sometimes still make fire the traditional way.

The Burarra people have many uses for fire: to burn grass when hunting, rebirth, cooking, for warmth and ceremonial purposes.