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Office of Sport


This hand hitting or handball game was played with a zamia (Cycas media) seed by the people of Bathurst Island in northern Australia. In the Meda district of north-western Australia players used flat pieces of wood.


Two players in single games or teams of 2–3 players


A small inflated ball or a covered sponge ball as the zamia seed

Game play and basic rules

Singles or pairs

Practice/cooperative game
Two players face each other and hit (volley) the ball back and forth with the palms of their hands as many times as possible.

Competitive game. Use a playing area 12 metres long and 3 metres wide. Mark a halfway line and two lines across the court one metre each side of a centre line — the area between the lines is out‑of‑bounds.

One or two players in each team
Players hit the ball underhand (below the waist) and/or sidearm (below chest high — under armpits) to each other in a game to 11 points (three serves each). Teams have one hit to return the ball (younger players have two hits for each return — one to control the ball and one to hit).


Cooperative team game. Divide the players into two teams facing each other 3–5 metres apart. Players of both teams attempt to keep a rally going as long as possible — aim to set a record for the group. To make the game more of a team effort allow each player up to two contacts (to control and then hit the ball) and each team at least two and no more than three player contacts. When players become more confident, try to hit the ball higher and restrict each player to one contact.

Competitive team game. Teams of three players. Use a badminton court and a ‘soft’ ball about the size of a softball. Net height may be set to volleyball height for older players. Serving is underhand below the waist. Follow volleyball serving rules and play to 11 points — best of three games. The ball cannot be hit (spiked) from above net height from inside the front area of the court. Only ‘clean’ volleys (not a ‘carry’) made with the fist or palms of the hands are legal hits. Overhead and underarm hits are allowed. Teams may have up to two hits to return the ball over the net — but only one hit is allowed for each player.


The game is named wulijini after the Tiwi language (Bathurst Island) word for ‘play’.  

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