Aboriginal spears taken by Captain James Cook to be returned

Aboriginal spears brought to the UK by Captain James Cook 252 years ago are being returned to Australia. The explorer’s 1770 landing at Botany Bay was resisted by Gweagals – the area’s indigenous people.

Cook took 40 spears from their camp, and they are thought to have been the first artefacts collected by a European from the country. The four that remain are held by Trinity College, Cambridge.

Activists called for their return to Australia, where Gweagal folk use similar multi-pronged fishing spears, for display in a visitor centre.

They will be handed to the Aboriginal community in La Perouse, south-east Sydney.

Noeleen Timbery, the chairman of its Aboriginal land council, welcomed the move, saying: “They are an important connection to our past, our traditions and our ancestors.”

Dame Sally Davies, the master of Trinity, said it was the “right decision”.

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