CANBERRA, Australia – An Aboriginal leader said Friday he wants a boomerang to return to Australia more than 300 years after it was taken as a souvenir by celebrated British explorer Capt. James Cook.
The boomerang will be auctioned in London on Sept. 25. Auctioneer Christie's director Nick Lambourn expects the unmarked 22-inch wooden artifact will fetch up to $113,000.
Cook, who led the first Europeans to discover Australia's fertile east coast in 1770, collected the boomerang at the site of present day Sydney, Australia's first British colony.
Aboriginal leader Merv Ryan said his Gweigal people felt strongly that the boomerang — an iconic weapon crafted to return to the spot from where it was thrown — should return to what is now the Sydney bayside suburb of Kurnell, the site where Cook first met Aborigines.
"Having the boomerang back in Kurnell will be a historic symbol of harmony between our two cultures and will help teach young Australians about the importance of Aboriginal culture," Ryan said.
The Australian government is considering bidding for the boomerang while Sydney lawmaker Scott Morrison, whose electoral district includes Kurnell, said the British should return it to Australia as a gift.
Heritage Minister Peter Garrett, who as a rock singer with the band Midnight Oil had championed Aboriginal causes, has asked his department to investigate buying the boomerang, his spokesman Ben Pratt said.
History does not record how Cook came by the boomerang. It has remained for generations with the family of the executor of his widow's will.