Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Across the Border: Kings Cross: Retailers: The Boomerang School

I was walking home from work yesterday up William Street and as I always do, glanced in the windows of The Boomerang School.
I have long been fascinated by this little shop with its walls lined with boomerangs and Aboriginal art on canvas, so it was sad to see 'closing down' signs in the windows.

Normally there's just a sign in the window advertising free 'fun for the whole family' boomerang throwing lessons.
Boomerangs must be the most widely known Indigenous hunting tool, most likely because children love the idea of throwing something that spins around and returns, while tourists to Australia often buy boomerangs as a souvenir of their travels.
And that's probably why this shop sprang up 50 years ago. Yep, 50 years. I only know this because as I stopped to look at the signs, the owner was locking up the front door and so we had a quick chat.

Frank, above, is the son-in-law of the original owner Duncan MacLennan, who opened The Boomerang School in the 1960s.
Duncan still runs the school with his daughter Belinda and Frank, but business has been tough in recent years. 
Frank said that because most of the big hotels in the area have closed in the past decade or so (the Rex, Top of the Town, Sebel Town House and Hyatt Kingsgate come to mind) there aren't so many tourists seeking boomerang lessons or souvenirs.
And the backpackers, he said, prefer to spend their money on other things.
Frank said they'll make a final decision in the next three weeks on whether to shut the shop.

The Boomerang School in 1975, courtesy City of Sydney Archives. Note Carroll's Hardware, which just moved to new premises on William Street, was once right next door.

I wish now I had written about The Boomerang School earlier and perhaps encouraged people to visit or take part in one of their free boomerang throwing lessons, which are held at Rushcutters Bay Park every Tuesday.
It's not just sad that this family will be closing shop after five decades in business, it's also sad for the area, which will lose such a unique business. And I dread to think what could replace it. Kebab shop? Convenience store? 
Anyway, if you have been a silent and secret admirer like me, why not go into the shop and say hello or buy one of their boomerangs, which are all made in Australia by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

The Boomerang School
224a William Street
Kings Cross NSW 2010
02 9358 2370


Anonymous said...

I've also walked past that little shop so many times and been intrigued by how it remains in business. I had no idea that they'd been around that long and it'll be sad to see them go. You're right, Violet, it'll probably be replaced by another kebab shop. Like the area needs more of those...

Violet Tingle said...

Hi Anon, I really hope it doesn't close at all. How many towns can boast a Boomerang School? Just need hipsters to adopt the boomerang like they did beards, and there'd be loads of willing students.

Bnonymous said...

Buy a kebab get a free boomerang.