Media identity and cultural ambassador Alec Doomadgee is furious with Qantas after the airline refused to allow him take ceremonial boomerangs on a flight from Brisbane on Tuesday.
Mr Doomadgee was stopped by security at Brisbane airport, and was later told that the two ceremonial wooden boomerangs he was carrying - a symbol of cultural significance for our people - were considered a weapon.
"even the idea of me using a boomerang on a Qantas flight as a weapon to do anything is stupid"
“I think it’s quite ridiculous that even the thought or even the idea of me using a boomerang on a Qantas flight as a weapon to do anything is stupid,” he said.
He points out that ironically, the two boomerangs have a history with the airline: they were used in a ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of Wunala Dreaming – a 747 displaying artwork designed by John and Ros Moriarty from the Yanyuwa people from the same area of the Gulf as Mr Doomadgee's Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda tribes.
“Walalu songlines is the one that we all sing up there, and the one that’s painted on the side of the Qantas 747, was painted by John Moriarty, its the Walalu dreaming and the Boomerangs that I had with me, three years ago, actually sang those very words from that Walalu story,” he said.
"I find it kind of ironic that the very boomerangs that hold those songlines, those stories weren’t allowed to actually go on the plane that’s painted with the Walalu dreaming”
“So it was used in a tribal ceremony, singing the Walalu songline of that dreaming, so I find it kind of ironic that the very boomerangs that hold those songlines, those stories weren’t allowed to actually go on the plane that’s painted with the Walalu dreaming.”
Mr Doomadgee recounted the incident on his Facebook page, saying that he warned the Qantas staff not to touch the boomerangs or they would be cursed.
“Tried telling the lil white girl NOT to touch them as she would be cursed when she grabbed it off the conveyor belt …”
“I then went back to the luggage area to see a QANTAS lady whom informed me that it was a WEAPON!! I replied "no these are ceremonial & used for sacred rituals, therefore they're my religious tools.”
Mr Doomadgee is a popular Indigenous personality, starring in the Logie award winning TV drama 'Redfern Now', having delivered a TED talk on culture and having a lengthy career in the media.
This is the first time Mr Doomadgee he has been stopped by security, despite flying many times before without any such incident. He believes there was more to it than a perceived safety issue.
“[It was] pretty much get back in your place blackfella we don’t care about your songlines or anything else"
“[It was] pretty much get back in your place blackfella we don’t care about your songlines or anything else, as long as we can stand up here and glorify your paintings and your culture to the rest of the world because were such a great company look at us,” he said.
A spokesperson for Qantas said the safety of their passengers and crew is their number one priority. "For that reason sharp wooden objects need to be in checked baggage.. We understand this item has cultural significance for the passenger, however boomerangs aren’t permitted in the cabin.”
Mr Doomadgee says he will continue to take his boomerangs on board and might even mix things up in the future.
“You never know I may come back with a spear too just to make things a little more interesting,” he said.