Kamay Spears obtained in 1770 return to Sydney

Three spears that were taken from Kamay (Botany Bay) by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770 will be on display at the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum from 8 April to 10 July 2022.

Courtesy of the University of Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The spears are displayed alongside 37 contemporary spears, representing the 40 taken by members of Cook’s Endeavour crew during their eight days at Kamay (Botany Bay).

The spears are part of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) collection and have been linked to the first encounter between Cook and two Gweagal men who famously resisted Cook’s landing before being fired upon on 28 April 1770.

Regarding the provenance of these artefacts, MAA Director Professor Nicholas Thomas wrote in Australian Historical Studies in 2018 that “their voyage provenance, their attribution to New South Wales, and their acquisition at the time of the contested first landing, are clearly and unambiguously documented.”

The display is presented as part of a partnership between the University of Sydney with La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the National Museum of Australia.

Noeleen Timbery, Chairperson of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, has said that she is proud to be working with the university “to bring these important artefacts to Sydney for the first time in more than 250 years”.

“We will continue to work to ensure our community’s access to these and other important artefacts and materials; they remain an important connection to our past, our traditions and cultural practices, and to our ancestors.”

You can find out more about the Kamay spears on display at the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum here.